INDIA-L ArchivesArchiver > INDIA > 1999-02 > 0919784530
Subject: COLONEL ERIC "CRAZY" HAYES-NEWINGTON
Date: Tue, 23 Feb 1999 08:42:10 -0700 (MST)
Publication Date: December 27, 1996
Source: The Daily Telegraph London
Obituary: COLONEL ERIC "CRAZY" HAYES-NEWINGTON, who has died aged 98,
was the oldest surviving officer of the 4th Bombay Grenadiers; in 1945
he won an immediate DSO at Meiktila, in Burma.
Hayes-Newington was commanding the 6th Battalion of the 7th Rajput
Regiment when on Feb 28 1945 he was sent to clear the Japanese from Oyin
village. As the battalion - which hitherto had had no taste of action -
approached the village, the infantry, which was moving with the leading
squadron of tanks, came under sustained and heavy sniper and machine gun
With utter disregard for his own safety, Hayes-Newington immediately
sprang from his tank to lead the infantry. Completely cool, exhorting
his men and directing the fire of the tanks, he ensured that the advance
on the village continued without check.
When they entered the village, they found that the enemy, who were well
dug-in, were putting up a determined resistance. Moreover, the Japanese
made several assaults on the tanks, throwing picric acid charges.
Hayes-Newington sustained a wound in his shoulder, but this gave no
pause to his vigorous leadership, and he himself slew three Japanese
soldiers at point-blank range as they bore down on the tanks, shrieking.
Hayes-Newington's example was a splendid inspiration to his untried
battalion. That they came through their blooding with such dash and
spirit was almost entirely down to his heroic lead.
Eric Adrian Hayes-Newington was born on April 8 1898, and was educated
at Dover College. Joining the Army he was posted to India. He was
commissioned into the Indian Army in 1917 and attached to the 29th
Punjab Regiment for seven months before joining the 2nd Battalion of the
4th Bombay Grenadiers at Ahmednager.
The Bombay Grenadiers had a long and distinguished service, with an
honourable record of victories in both India and Africa - it is said
that the Iron Duke of Wellington was once second-in-command.
Hayes-Newington saw service on the North West Frontier, before being
posted to the Small Arms School at Pachmari in 1930, first as
Quartermaster and then as Adjutant. He served there with such success
and efficiency that when he left in 1934 he was awarded an OBE, an
almost unheard-of distinction for a serving officer in peacetime.
Hayes-Newington then returned to the Bombay Grenadiers and fought in
Waziristan - a very active service which involved climbing peaks and
avoiding accurate sniping by tribesmen who regarded fighting as a normal
way of life. But in July 1939 he was posted to the 7th Rajput Regiment,
and served with the 1st Battalion at Kamptee, Attock and Secunderabad,
before being appointed CO of the 6th Battalion.
After another period on the Frontier, he took the battalion through
jungle training, and then on into Burma. As they moved towards Imphal,
the battalion was allotted 87 sub-standard vehicles, some being
survivors of the Desert War and camouflaged accordingly.
Hayes-Newington, who had a strong mechanical bent, applied the battalion
to rectifying all faults and bringing their transport up to the high
standard he demanded.
He acquired spare parts where none were thought to be in existence, let
alone obtainable. During his period of command he acquired the nickname
"Crazy", partly from his unorthodox, though usually successful, approach
to problems, and partly from his attitude to the higher command and
staff for whom he made no secret of his indifference. On several
occasions he was thought to have gone too far, but miraculously his
After a series of successful battles and the Irrawaddy crossing, made in
company with Probyn's Horse, Hayes-Newington was appointed to command
48th Infantry Brigade in 17th Indian Division. His last military
appointment was as Commandant to the Rajput Regimental Centre in 1946,
and in 1947 he retired to Kenya.
When the Mau Mau insurrection broke out in the 1950s, Hayes-Newington
joined the police, and was soon running the operations room at Nyeri.
During his 12 years' service he became Acting Superintendent of the
Kenya Police, and on retirement was awarded the Colonial Police Medal.
In his late 70s he became Chief Game Warden ("Number One White Hunter")
at Treetops Hotel, where he escorted Royalty, and appeared on a BBC Blue
Peter television programme. Although very modest and reticent, he had a
low threshold of boredom and if he felt that a dinner party was too
dull, would begin eating his table napkin or do something equally
As a young man, "Crazy" had been a good hockey and soccer player, and he
was always a first-class shot. He enjoyed riding a powerful Norton
motor-bicycle, in spite of the practice being deplored by his seniors.
Invariably cheerful, with a dry sense of humour, he was an excellent
organiser, and extremely good at putting people at their ease.
Part of his younger days had been spent in Ireland, where he had become
a skilled trout fisherman and a good horseman, and partly in Bruges,
where he became fluent in the language. He skied, skated, won medals at
cross-country running, played polo, and planned and built his own home
in Kenya - where he developed a great fondness and affinity for
He retained all his faculties into his 99th year, and was an avid
reader, wellversed in current events.
His wife predeceased him, and he is survived by a daughter.