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Category: HLI Community

James Bradford 5th Bn and 1st Bn HLI

James Bradford 5th Bn and 1st Bn HLI

It is with great sadness that I have to report the passing on 7th of June 2022, at the Royal Hospital Chelsea of our old comrade James (Jim) Bradford.

Jim Bradford revisiting Walcheren in 2016

Jim served with the 5th Bn HLI in WW2 in Belgium, Holland (Walcheren) and Germany, taking part in the Crossing of the Rhine. Shortly after the end of the war in Europe, Jim was posted to Palestine with the 1st Bn HLI.

Jim was a well known friend to many of our members who travelled with him on Willie Shaw’s “veterans return” tours to Holland and Germany.  Although Jim had been for many years resident in the south of England, he visited his old HLI pals in Glasgow, and participated in the veterans parade at Knightswood.

In the last few years Jim was a resident in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, where he enjoyed spending his days with his fellow pensioners.

Jim in his RHC uniform

The HLI Association sends their condolences to Jim’s son Alan, who informed us of Jim’s passing, and who sends greetings to his father’s old HLI comrades. Jim’s funeral will be at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on the 5th of July 2022.

Joseph “Gerry” McAuley HLI/RHF

Joseph “Gerry” McAuley HLI/RHF

Gerry McAuley HLI/RHF

It is with great sadness that we heard the news of the passing of Joseph “Gerry” McAuley. Gerry served in the 1st Battalion HLI in the late 1950s, and was in the Highland Light Infantry during the amalgamation with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, which saw the formation of the Royal Highland Fusiliers in 1959.
Gerry was a stalwart member of both the HLI and RHF Associations for many years, and was a familiar face at Armed Forces Day and Remembrance Services in Glasgow.

Gerry had been ill for some time, and passed away at home, surrounded by his loving family, on the morning of Wednesday the 16th of February 2022. Our heartfelt condolences go out to Catherine and the family at this sad time.
Jim Devine
Secretary
Highland Light Infantry Association

John Deuchars HLI

John Deuchars HLI

We are greatly saddened to have been informed of the passing of John Deuchars, a WW2 HLI veteran, and a long standing member of the HLI Association.  John served in the 5th Battalion HLI in World War 2, taking part in the liberation of Holland, and the defeat of nazi Germany. John’s daughter Marion, contacted the Association to let us know that he had passed away on the morning of Tuesday the 21st of December 2021. He was 95 years old. He will be sorely missed by his family and his old HLI comrades.

John’s funeral will be on Saturday the 8th of January in South Lanarkshire. Details from the Association Secretary.

D Day 75 Return to Normandy

D Day 75 Return to Normandy

John Lamont, Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur, 6th Bn HLI, returns to the Normandy beaches for the 75th Anniversary.

Return to Gold Beach
A quiet moment of reflection

John being interviewed on Gold Beach for the British Army News Service

John Lamont with HLI Association Secretary Jim Devine at Bayeux Cemetery
John salutes fallen HLI comrades at Bayeux Military Cemetery

John and Jim with Sir Tim Laurence, Vice Chairman of the CWGC at Bayeux Commonwealth War Cemetery
John met another HLI Normandy veteran John McIntosh at Bayeux Cemetery. They both subsequently enjoyed a dram and a few stories aboard the British Legion D DAY 75 cruise ship Boudicca.
Bless them all – bless them all – the long and the short and the tall!

 

A salute from the crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth

 

 

Aboard the good ship Boudicca
SV Boudicca. Our home for the week
Our escorts to France

With grateful thanks to the Royal British Legion and the many service and civilian personnel who made the D Day 75th Anniversary such an amazing and memorable experience for so many Normandy Veterans!

Message from Gordon Dow

Message from Gordon Dow

My father, Hugh Dow, served in the 17th Battalion HLI, A Company, No. 2996, joining on 7th June 1915. He was injured at The Somme on 1st July 1916 and shipped home. He died in 1970.

We were fortunate as a family to get tickets for the centenary at Thiepval on 1st July 2016. The next day as we walked in the area where I think my father was injured (near the Leipzig Redoubt) we met a chap from Glasgow whose uncle or great-uncle had been in the same battalion. We chatted for quite a while but unfortunately didn’t exchange details.

I’m sure he might have more info than I have about life in the 17th in those months of 1916. It’s a long shot but it’s just possible that he might read thus or someone might know who he is. If so it would be hugely appreciated if he would get in touch with me at gordon.dow@ntlworld.com

Sergeant John Pews 1st Bn HLI 1942 – 1947

Sergeant John Pews 1st Bn HLI 1942 – 1947

My Father John Pews, originally from Springburn Glasgow sadly now long deceased was a member of 1st Bn HLI from 15-1-42 to 1-1-47.


I have a few photos of his wartime service period from 1942 in UK to Germany and afterwards in Egypt/Palestine 1945/6 ish. In 1946 he was a sergeant in the anti-tank platoon. I have a few pics of his time in the Bn including many of the parade at the Citadel in Cairo in 1946.
I know it is a long shot now but I would love to know if anyone remembers my dad or others in the photos.

Robert Pews.

Major Willie Shaw MBE

Major Willie Shaw MBE

It is with great sadness that we report the passing away on the 24th January 2018 of Major Willie Shaw MBE RSF/RHF after a short illness. Willie was a long serving regular soldier, serving in the Royal Scots Fusiliers, then after the amalgamation of the RSF with the HLI in 1959, in the Royal Highland Fusiliers. Latterly he was at RHQ in Glasgow, where many of our members looked forward to his hilarious anecdotes at the regular members lunches. Many of our members also have very fond memories of numerous coach trips run by Willie to old stomping grounds in Germany. He was a true character, and universally admired and respected, and he will be sorely missed.

All of the RHF family of Regimental Association Standards were present for Willie’s funeral service at Masonhill Crematorium, Ayr, on Friday 9 February 2018.
A fond farewell to a fine soldier and a good friend
Angus McWilliam 1st Battalion HLI 1944-47

Angus McWilliam 1st Battalion HLI 1944-47

From Steve Dobson, son of Charlie Dobson 1st Bn HLI 1944-47

A few years ago, I was in touch with my Dad’s friend Angus McWilliam, who had remained in touch with my old man for many years, and was a whole week younger than my Dad. Angus had very kindly sent me some photos and memories to share on the HLI web site.

Freddie Brannan (on left) with Angus McWilliam, somewhere in Palestine or Egypt

Angus and my Dad, Charlie Dobson, had remained friends since meeting on basic training in Northern Ireland in 1944. I’m told that there were three of them in their little gang with a Yorkshireman named Freddie Brannan making up the trio. Freddie Brannan took the photograph below, which shows Bob Hope, with his arm raised pointing at something. Bob Hope was with some American officers and was spotted by Freddie and other lads from the HLI, somewhere on the outskirts of Hamburg a few days before VE day.

Angus told me that despite the HLI being a Scots regiment, at least half of their number were Englishmen back in those days and that there was always lots of banter regarding the various football teams they all supported. Angus was in Hamburg when the war ended and he remembered that part of the Army rations given to the troops was a sweet ration of seven sweets a day. Angus, my Dad and their mate Freddie used to give their sweets, usually caramels, to the local German children. Angus said that the look of delight on the kids’ faces was wonderful to see.

The soldiers were also given a carton of 50, Woodbine or Players Navy Cut cigarettes a week and Angus, being a non smoker, did well trading them with Germans who were desperate for British cigarettes. The photo below is of Charlie Dobson with a pipe clamped in his mouth with a Scots guy who’s name neither Angus or my Dad could remember. My Dad gave up his pipe for a £5 bet when he turned 50, some 40 years ago.

Angus wrote that his memories of the HLI’s time in Palestine and Egypt are of extreme boredom and heat, being stuck in the desert for weeks at a time, with only the occasional jaunt into Jerusalem or Cairo to break the monotony.

Photo above shows Angus McWilliam on right with an unidentified HLI soldier

Photo below is of Freddie Brannan on the right, with a soldier Angus named as Joe McDonald and was taken somewhere in Europe, Belgium or Holland or Germany, sometime in 1945.

Photo below shows a Corporal Murphy sat alongside Angus who appears to be doing a Winston Churchill impression and flashing the V for Victory sign!!

Angus McWilliam of Peterhead passed away 5th June 2013, three days after his 87th birthday. Angus had been unwell and living in a nursing home for some time. Sadly Angus’s wife, Helen, died only a few month’s previously. My Dad, Charlie (Dobson), thought that something was wrong because Angus and himself had always exchanged birthday cards as they were born only 7 days apart. My Dad had turned 87 on May 27th 2013, and for the first time in donkeys years no card from Angus. Angus had turned 87 on June 2nd 2013.  Gone but not forgotten.

More memories of HLI 1st Battalion in Germany and Palestine. 1944-1947

More memories of HLI 1st Battalion in Germany and Palestine. 1944-1947

Provided by Steve Dobson

My Dad, Charles Robert Dobson, known as Charlie or “Scouse”, was in the HLI, his memory for names of his platoon and company members isn’t brilliant, but I’ve got a few more stories from him that I thought I’d share. Don’t forget that these stories are from a man who is 91, so exact dates and historical accuracy is not guaranteed My father remembers that in Hamburg, his company (A Company) had a Sergeant by the name of BARTELLI. The sergeant was from a Glasgow family who owned a Fish & Chip shop that was right next door to the Maryhill Barracks. Maybe some older Glaswegian’s may remember the shop? I believe that Glasgow was home to a lot of families of Italian descent. Another name he recalls from his platoon was a Geordie from Newcastle by the name of DENNIS COCKING, a guy who was football mad and a dyed in the wool Newcastle United fan. In 1946 a Newcastle player named Albert Stubbins transferred to Liverpool, my Dad’s team. At the time my Dad said it a major move for a record fee of £12,500 and this Dennis Cocking guy moaned and whinged for about two months after the move as he couldn’t believe Stubbins had deserted his home town team for Liverpool. Stubbins’ later claim to fame was an appearance on the front cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, the only footballer to be given that honour.

The photo below was taken approximately late 1946 or early 1947 and my Dad appears to be showing off fairly fresh tattoos. They don’t look anywhere near as crisp and sharp now he’s 91 years old.

My Dad also remembers a man by the name of MITCHELL, who won the Military Medal and if you asked him why he had been awarded the medal he would tell you that he got it for throwing snowballs at the Germans. I’d like to know why he had won it? Dad thinks that they had about six MM recipients in the regiment.

There is another reason that my Dad remembers Mitchell, was because their company were detailed as a guard of honour for a visit by the Emir Abdullah, the King of Jordan to the then High Commissioner of Palestine, General Alan Cunningham. The Commissioners residence was at the top of a hill, the King walked up and down the rows of the honour guard, stopping occasionally to speak to some of the soldiers. He stopped to speak to Mitchell who was two away from my Dad. The King said to Mitchell “How long have you been in the British Army?” Mitchell took a breath and bellowed at the top of his lungs “21 years, your Majesty!” The Kings face was a picture apparently.

Another soldier Dad remembers from his platoon was a chap called HARRISON who was a tall, blond lad who came from Keithley in Yorkshire and loved the game of cricket. Many years later watching a TV programme about the bombing of the King David hotel in Jerusalem, there was photo of Harrison stood with his rifle outside the remains of the hotel were 80+ people had died. At the time of the bombing the battalion were in the Allenby Barracks, which was just up the road from the hotel. Several members of the HLI, Dad included, were called out to help get the wounded and dead out of the ruins.

Dad remembers quite a lot of trouble surrounding the issue of demobilisation, a lot of soldiers had been through WWII and now they found themselves in a hot, desolate country, miles from home, whilst others were returning to their wives and families, some of the soldiers got a bit disgruntled. At this time the Battalion had come out of Palestine and were stationed in Egypt. In late 1945 or early 1946 a number of Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) men barricaded themselves on board some barges they were unloading in Port Suez, Egypt, they were protesting because of the slow demob. Some days after they were forcibly brought out of the barges and found themselves posted to other regiments in the area. The 1st HLI received about 20 of the RASC soldiers who were told in no uncertain terms that if any trouble started in the Battalion, then they would immediately have to report to the Company Office for duty, if they failed to report they were told that they would be tried and shot for mutiny.

Some time later in 1946 Dad and a number of other soldiers from the Battalion, including the Commanding Officer, Colonel Rose, were sent home on a 21 day leave. On their return to Egypt they were told that whilst they were away the Battalion had formed a mass march from their camp to take part in a meeting, with other Regiments in the area, at an open air cinema, they too were protesting about the very slow demob. The story goes that the RSM tried to stop the march and had ordered the soldiers on guard duty to fire upon their mates; they refused and let the march pass through. The HLI had been led on the march by a Provost Sergeant named SLOPER, for this act Sgt. Sloper received a term in the glasshouse, my Dad doesn’t remember how long his prison term was. All this had happened under the watch of the 2IC, a Major whose name Dad can’t remember, the Major was very quickly posted away.

Conversely, another story tells of a group of men with age and service group numbers as low as 6 or 7 who were being demobbed, sat on the front of a Jeep crying like babies as their Jeep was towed along by another Jeep. These men were in their late 40’s or early 50’s and the army had been their life since they had left Glasgow years before. My old man said that at the time Glasgow and indeed his home town of Liverpool had terrible slums and these guys knew what they were going back to and preferred army life, harsh as it was.

Finally all that association with Scots must have rubbed off on my Dad, because after he’d returned to Civy Street he met and married a half Scots girl, my Mum, who can trace her family roots back to the early 16th century to the island of Fetlar in Shetland.