SSgt John Lea died aged 80 after a spirited fight against cancer.

SSgt JH Lea
SSgt JH Lea

He served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars and the Malayan Police Force during the insurrection by the former Malayan People’s anti-Japanese Army to take over the government of Malaya.

He served some five years in Malaya and when asked by his children if he had shot anyone his reply was ‘one when I was with the Malayan Police Force’.

John was born in Lewisham SE London on 8 October 1928 and enlisted into the Army on the 18th of April 1946.

After initial training with 90 PTC followed by Corps Training with 59th Training Regiment RAC, he remained with them in the rank of Corporal until joining the 4th Hussars at Colchester in November 1947 as the Regiment returned from Lubeck. This was the first time the 4th Hussars had been stationed in the UK for seven years.

The Regiment sailed for Malaya in August 1948 and John served with them until they were due to return to the UK in December 1951. By this time his Colour Service was due to expire and his B Reserve Service as a civilian would begin.

He volunteered for the Malayan Police Force and served with them until July 1953 when he then opted to rejoin the 4th Hussars from the Reserve.

In 1958 the 4th Hussars amalgamated with the 8th Hussars and became the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars. John served with them in BAOR. UK Aden, Malaya (again) and BAOR until his discharge from the Army in July 1970 whilst the Regiment was in Bovington.

In civilian life, John had a variety of jobs which included the Officers’ Mess Bovington, frozen food salesman, insurance rep and milk roundsman and spent 17 years as a postman until retirement at 65 years of age.

Those of us who served at the same time as John will remember how he and his wife Pat were always involved in regimental concerts and such, and he continued in the same vein in civilian life by being a member of the Weymouth Operatic Society and the March Airs in Weymouth.

He and Pat were very much involved in St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Weymouth where they helped to raise many thousands of pounds for the church and other community groups in Dorset.

John had a very good send off with a packed church, all the family and lots of friends.

He had a white cardboard coffin on which members of the family had written their thoughts and which included the Spike Milligan epitaph ‘I told you I was ill ‘.

John married Pat in September 1954 and they had nine children and between them five grandchildren.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. A short history of The Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars
  3. Malaya 1948-51
  4. Aden and The Persian Gulf 1961
  5. Malaya and Borneo 1962-64