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Major Jan Barnes
Late The Life Guards

by Lieutenant Colonel H S J Scott
formerly The Life Guards

Jan Walter Barnes, born on 16th August 1926, was 95 when he died on 12th December 2021.  He was known in the Regiment as Jan and JB to his family, He had been at Eton, leaving in 1944, memorably having been deployed on firewatch to lead the fight against incendiary bombs landing on roofs, dealt with by shovels and buckets of sand quenching them or boots kicking them to the ground.  Jan joined up in September 1944 and was commissioned in October 1945 to The Life Guards.  

He was at regimental duty for 10 years serving in Germany, then Egypt, moving through Cairo, Alexandria, the Canal Zone and Palestine, followed by mounted duty for a couple of years before returning to the Regiment.  A Captain on his return, he served in Malaya, becoming a Military Intelligence Officer.  On completion of the tour, Jan could not face the prospect of drab duty in England, left the Army and was placed on the regular reserve for the next five years.  He found work in the insurance world of Lloyds and hated it; he bumped into a serving fellow Life Guard, Muir Turnbull, who encouraged him to rejoin, which he did, returning at the end of November 1959 in Germany, serving as Intelligence Officer. When the Regiment went to exercise with the French Army in southern Germany he was sent on ahead to recce the routes and arrange harbour areas.   On the second night, the Regiment harboured in the wrong field causing great righteous uproar, costing Jan a bottle of whisky with which to placate the irate German farmer.  He returned with the Regiment to Combermere Barracks before taking up the post of Staff Captain at Horse Guards for 18 months before being promoted to Major and returning to regimental duty, first as a squadron leader and then 2IC. Thereafter, being a linguist, he served on the intelligence staff at HQ Hong Kong where B Squadron of the Regiment was stationed at the time. There was considerable communist inspired trouble in the colony and intelligence on what was likely to happen was much in demand. On completion of that tour, he took up a post as Assistant to the Chairman NATO Military Committee in Brussels before leaving the Army in 1976 when a Redundancy Scheme gave him an attractive option to leave.

The upshot of his return from his break in service, and subsequent loss of seniority, was that he was quite a bit older than the others in the Mess, acquiring the soubriquet of Uncle. A good cricketer, and being good at all sports, he had much enjoyed Eton fives (a game requiring good eye and hand speed), and his abiding passion was real tennis.  A multiple cup winner over the years, in and out of the Army, he regularly played with a group of friends at Lords into his 90s.

After leaving the Army Jan went back into the City.  He was also involved with the Institute for the Blind and did some work for SSAFA.  For many years Jan was the family member Trustee for the Corps of Commissionaires.  The link goes back to The Times newspaper founded by publisher John Walter on 1st January 1785, and Thomas Barnes who was appointed general editor in 1817.  With family money, in 1859 Captain Sir Edward Walter KCB founded the Corps of Commissionaires, the oldest security company in the world; Walter was the first to find an effective remedy to provide jobs for ex-servicemen who were willing and able to work after the Crimean War.

Secondly married to Anthea, he lived for many years in Chelsea with his passions and foibles, not least calling a stepdaughter whom he adored Fred.

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