A HAWORTH man who fought in the Far East with the renowned Chindits special forces has died aged 95.

William Edward Parker went on to become a well-known artist as well as serving as the last lamp lighter in the region.

Bill’s daughter Ruth Parker this week recalled her father’s prolific work as an artist, his Second World War service with the ‘Forgotten Army’ in Burma, and his “unsurpassed zest for life”.

She said: “He lived with kindness and recognised the madness of war yet held the deepest respect those who give their lives so we might have the freedom we enjoy today.

“He was undoubtedly courageous, and had the strength of character to face and overcome difficulties that would make lesser men crumble.

“He had a dry Yorkshire sense of humour and was kind and generous. His love of Yorkshire is evident in his beautiful landscape paintings.”

Bill, who died in July 24, was born in Keighley and lived all his married life in Haworth with wife Ada, having two children Ruth and John and a grandson Luke.

A promising artist, Bill studied at Keighley’s Mechanics Institute but had to leave to earn a living as a mill worker.

After war broke out he was sent to Burma to serve as a Chindit with the Gurkhas, travelling through North Africa and the Mediterranean and fighting behind enemy lines to halt the Japanese invasion of India.

Ruth said: “Seeing both heartbreaking cruelty and loss, he formed strong ties with his comrades, and had close shaves in battle and illness including malaria while in the Burmese jungle.

“He never seemed to lose his faith in humanity and life. Although he had seen unspeakable things, he still saw the good that exists in many.”

Bill fought alongside the Gurkhas from Nepal and the head-hunting Naga tribespeople, and shook hands with Earl Mountbatten of India, who told him ‘keep your head down Bill’. He also documented his war experiences in sketches.

After the war ended Bill stayed in India, working as a courier in Bombay and learning to speak basic Hindi.

With the onset of Partition in 1947 Bill returned to England, buying a motorbike, and on a night out at the cinema in Haworth he met Ada.

Settling in Oxenhope then Haworth, Bill worked as a street lighting attendant and became the last lamp lighter in the region.

He then worked at the railway goods yard in Keighley with horses moving heavy loads, helped by his experience for mules in the Burmese jungle. He often shared his pork pie with his horse.

Bill, a keen hill walker, later worked with British Gas as a labourer until his retirement in the 1980s.

In his spare time Bill painted landscapes and portraits, often getting up early to paint before going to work.

He was a member of Keighley Art Club, a friend of well-known artists Joseph Pighills and Kenneth Jackson, and sold his own work locally, nationally and internationally.