At the start of the War my Grandfather was a mechanic working on the Railways in Glasgow and was also in the Home Guard. After a Pipe burst and poured boiling water over his head he decided he’d had enough so went to the Navy office to sign up, but was turned away as he was only 17. He then went to the Army office and lied about his age, so he was accepted and began basic training.
He then became was part of the Scottish 9th Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).
In 1944 he took part in D-day, and the battle for Caen, the biggest turning point in the War so far. Caen was crucial battle in securing a foothold in Europe, and vital if the Allies were to advance and break out of Normandy. It was at around this time he celebrated his 19th Birthday.
His regiment, along with many regiments took heavy losses; and was split up. My grandfather recalls how even the piper was killed, along with one of his best friends and all the officers.
He then was one of the first men to enter Bergan-Belson concentration camp in north Germany. He kept this to himself for 70 years.
Most of his journey was on foot, and after seeing one of the medics was admitted to a field hospital for treatment for his feet. He was then put on light duties and assigned to the Second Army HQ Signals, which is where he obtained the below telegram – an order to the Second British and First Canadian armies to cease all offensive operations. A few days later the German army in the north surrendered to the Americans.
In 2016, he was Honoured by the French government with their highest order of merit, the Légion d’honneur for his role in the liberation of France.
Luckily, I still have my grandfather in my life, he is one of the most honest and caring people I will ever know. Its hard to imagine what he and so many other went through for our freedom and way of life, something that we take for granted today’