Aftermath - when the boys came home

Saturday 11 June 2011

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from the Scotsman 25 June 2003

Scotland's Oldest Man turns 107
by John Innes

THE oldest man in Scotland celebrated his 107th birthday yesterday.

Alfred Anderson, a First World War veteran from Perthshire, said the best birthday present he could receive was news that the Black Watch, his old regiment, was being recalled from the Gulf.

Mr Anderson served with the Black Watch in the the First World War and was dismayed when his regiment was sent into conflict in Iraq.

"I was told I was fighting the war that would end all wars, but that wasn’t the case," he said.

"It was awful to watch my old regiment put their life on the line again in Iraq with so many young men being asked to face the unknown.

"It’s time they brought them home to their loved ones."

Still healthy and active, Mr Anderson lives alone near his daughter, in Alyth, Perthshire.

This weekend, he will be the guest of honour at the Black Watch’s annual reunion in Perth, where he will have the chance to meet other veterans - or "the young lads" as he refers to them.

Born in Dundee, in 1896, Mr Anderson grew up with five brothers and sisters in Newtyle, Angus, where his father had a builder and joiner’s business.

Eighty-nine years ago, when he was 18, Alfred served on the Western Front with the 5th Battalion the Black Watch.

In 1914, his was one of the first units to go into France and encountered some of the most horrific trench warfare of the the Great War.

For a short time, he served as batman to the late Queen Mother’s brother, Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

"It’s one of my great regrets that I never got a chance to meet the Queen Mother and tell her of my time with her brother," said Mr Anderson. "A meeting was mooted, but she took ill while at Glamis and it never happened."

However, he was overjoyed when Prince Charles kept the appointment his grandmother couldn’t. The prince visited Mr Anderson several months ago, spending an hour with him.


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