A veteran sniper and one of the last remaining ‘Chindits’ who survived the fiercest jungle battles of the Second World War has died aged 100.
Crackshot Ralph Tucker was part of a special force of men were the first allied soldiers to fight behind Japanese lines in the swamps of Burma.
The ‘Chindits’ lived in the jungle for months at a time battling a ferocious, often unseen enemy.
They were forced to march for days on end weakened by diseases such as malaria and dysentery and had one of the highest casualty rates of any Allied unit.
But those that survived developed ferocious guerrilla warfare skills, living up to their reputation as the “SAS of the jungle”.
Ralph was trained as a sharpshooter and claimed his skills were so honed he could put on a blindfold and still hit his targets.
Brave Ralph, one of a dwindling number of Chindit veterans, died at his home in Exeter, Devon, last weekend, four months away from his 101st birthday.
Speaking in 2003, he said: ”Our work was so secretive and experimental that we were not recognised as a regular Army regiment.
“Nobody had any rank. There were no officers, sergeants or corporals. Some very high ranking officers dropped their rank to take part.
“The reason was that if you were caught by the Japanese it was a case of the higher your rank, the more harsh your treatment.
“The operation went on for five months until we had a message from HQ telling us, ‘we can no longer support you. Make your own way out’. A lot of chaps never did come out.”
Chindits – who got their name from the half-lion, half-eagle beast, the Chinthe – made history in 1943 as the first Allied force to invade Japanese-occupied Burma.
Ralph rarely spoke about his WWII exploits after leaving the Army in 1945 and returning to his civilian job at a cloth merchants. His family said he died peacefully in his own bed.
Ralph is survived by wife Gwynneth, 91, and their five children, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
His son Graham, said: “His passing is like the end of an era with living history gradually disappearing.”
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