Gallant soldier passes away

MAJOR Robin Reade, who died last weekend, was a distinguished soldier who won the Military Cross for gallantry during the Burma campaign in World War II.

The son of a Belfast business family, Major Reade joined the army after a short spell in York Street Linen Mills where his father was a director.

It was during the bitter fighting in Burma that Major (then Captain) Reade won the coveted MC for outstanding leadership of his Royal Artillery unit.

On one occasion during the fighting in the Arakan jungles, Major Reade's unit was completely surrounded by the Japanese.

Withdrawing into a 'box' formation, the artillery men refused to surrender and thanks to air re-supply, they were able to hold out for 17 days. Of the 120 men in Major Reade's command, 11 were killed and 20 wounded.

Typically, Major Reade gave full credit to his men for the award he received.

He said many times that he would never forget their fortitude and courage. His men, in turn, held him in the highest esteem and some years ago they organised a special re-union dinner where he was the guest of honour.

After the war, he married his wife Kate and the couple moved to Broughshane in 1951, taking up residence in Carncairn Lodge which had been bought by Major Reade's father some years previously.

Along with the house came an important acquisition which was to shape the course of their lives for the next 45 years; the walled garden was filled to overflowing with daffodils, given to the Major's mother by renowned breeder Guy Wilson.

In 1957, they established Carncairn Daffodils Ltd. and in the years to come won numerous gold medals at the Royal Horticultural Society show and emerged as leading ambassadors for Northern Ireland as they toured the worldwide conventions of daffodil enthusiasts.

During this time, Major Reade and his family played a prominent role in the local community and Broughshane environmental committee chairman, Ian Wilson, said the Major would be sadly missed throughout the area.

“He was always particularly pleased to see Broughshane achieving awards and even after his tragic accident in Dublin in 1992, Major Reade always made an effort to support local events.

“Everyone in Broughshane will be deeply saddened to hear of the major's death and we extend our sympathy to the Reade family and especially to Mrs. Kate Reade who looked after her husband with great affection in the years following the accident which confined him to a wheel chair,” he said.

Major Reade is survived by his wife, Kate, children, Richard, Patsy and David, and grandchildren Jamie, Henry, Nick, Thomas, Freddy, Rosanna, William and George.