Ray was born in Halifax, Yorkshire, on 2 November 1926. He was attested at the same town on 12 Sept 1946, on an engagement of 5 years with the colours and seven on the reserve. He had previously been employed as a moulder.

Sgt RF Crossley
Sgt RF Crossley

He enlisted on 24 Oct 1946 into the General Service Corps, doing his training at 90 primary Training Centre, and on 19 Dec 1946 transferred to The Royal Armoured Corps.

Raymond served in the UK for the next 5 months; unfortunately, his early records are sparse and lack detail, but it is fairly safe to assume that this time was spent in one of the RAC Training Regiments, doing Corps training.

He disembarked in BAOR on 22 April 1947 en route to joining The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars then stationed at Lingen. As he attended a Wireless Instructor’s course in 1949 he probably had mustered as a Driver/Operator.

On 15 February 1948 he, with the Regiment, returned to the UK to be stationed at Leicester East Airfield. A most momentous move for Ray as it was there, at a local dance hall, he met Sheila who was later to become his wife.

In the interim period, he had taken two short steps along the promotion road, but unfortunately, on both occasions, minor misdemeanours meant he returned to square one.

In Apr 1950 the Regiment moved from Leicester to Mooltan Barracks, Tidworth, Ray having married Sheila a month earlier. The sub-standard barracks, though still not modernised, were a vast improvement as regards accommodation, amenities etc., on the privations of Leicester East.

By June 1950 the war clouds were gathering over Korea, and on 25 June 1950 North Korea attacked South Korea by crossing the 38th Parallel. In late July 1950, The 8th Hussars were ordered to mobilise for active service in Korea.

A very hectic period for all concerned followed. We were to be the Armoured Regiment in 29 Independent Brigade. As such we would be equipped with the superb Centurion tank, still on the Secret list. We would therefore be the first Regiment to employ this tank on active service.

Eventually all preparations were completed, and the Regiment embarked on the ‘Empire Fowey’ at Southampton on 10 Oct 1950. Disembarkation was at Pusan on 14 November to the tune of a dark complexioned US band playing “Baby it’s cold outside”. It was.

During the Korean campaign Ray acted as operator to ‘A’ Squadron Leader Major Pat De Clermont. A demanding task but ensured a place in SHQ Troop where there was rarely a dull moment. That he filled this post so efficiently, often under adverse and difficult conditions, proved his ability as an outstanding operator.

He was promoted Corporal and this time the promotion lasted. From then on, he not only carried out his duties as an operator but because a tower of strength as Troop Corporal, and the writer recalls with gratitude the help and support he received from him.

The Regiment embarked on the ‘Georgie’ at Pusan on 15 Nov 1951, homeward bound for Liverpool, where it docked on 14 June 1952.

After leave and a brief spell at Tidworth, the Regiment arriving at Lüneburg on 22 March 1952. Ray was promoted to Sergeant on 15 June 1952.

After May 1953 his first daughter Madeline was born.

On 29 July 1952 he left the Regiment, his regular service time having nearly run out. On 17 August he was discharged to the reserve.

Always smartly turned out he was a painstaking instructor who gained the confidence and respect of his pupils and in fact of all those who came in contact with him. He was a Yorkshire man through and through, and proud of it. Like many of his compatriots he had grit and determination. Any task he was given he saw through with his quiet, cool efficiency.

His character on discharge was exemplary, and he was in possession of the British Korea Medal and the UN Medal with clasp Korea.

After his discharge he returned to Leicester to set up home with Sheila and Madeline. Still very much the Yorkshire man he always had his Yorkshire pudding and gravy as his first main course.

In 1958 his second daughter Sandra was born.

In civilian life he took up employment as a postman. Promoted to postman Higher Grade he became responsible for, amongst other things, supervising the loading and unloading of mail trains.

Ray was very much a family man, devoted to his wife and daughters and later on, his grandchildren.

He led an active retirement life. He liked to drink and socialise, where his sense of humour came to the fore. He kept in touch with his former colleagues by going on coach tours, visiting the local snooker hall etc.

He was a member of the Leicester Troop and the local BKVA. He was able to keep up these activities until just a few months before his death on 17 August 2009.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 8th Hussars
  2. Korea 1950-51