Centenarian ex-PoW soldier is laid to rest

John McRae - Britains oldest surviving former PoW
John McRae - Britains oldest surviving former PoW

Black Watch veterans gathered to pay respects to Britain’s eldest former PoW, John McRae, who died recently aged 104 years.

Mr McCrae, a former Black Watch soldier and piper, had endured a gruelling 1000-mile march to escape the brutality of the Nazis in World War II.

John McRae

John McRae

Mr McRae’s son, Kenny, said: “The colours were lowered and the last post was sounded and then Pipe Major Roberts Barnes played Lochaber No More.

“It was a very moving service for Dad. he would have been so proud.”

Mr McRae joined the Black Watch in 1930, aged 19 and served as a regular soldier before being called to serve in WWII in France.

But he and his fellow soldiers were forced to surrender to German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel at St Valery in 1940 and marched hundreds of miles through Belgium and Holland before being packed into trains to Poland.

The camp was eventually evacuated in January 1945 but Mr McRae and his fellow inmates were forced to walk back to Germany, exhausted and starving, in freezing conditons.

After returning to Britain, Mr McCrae married long-term partner Norah and had three children, Kenny, Morag and Shona.

On return he also began working as a postman, retiring in 1975.

Kenny said: “Everyone said my dad just seemed the exact same guy as before.”

Mr McRae rarely talked about his experiences in the war but did give an interview in 2013 (see below).

Mr McRae, whose wife passed in 2000 after a long illness, died on December 23, 2014.

His funeral took place at Methilmill Cemetery on January 9.