A century of memories for Jimmy

Jimmy Sinclair with a photo of himself and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Jimmy Sinclair with a photo of himself and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall

Kirkcaldy’s most famous soldier and the oldest surviving Desert Rat will celebrate his 100th birthday this weekend.

And it will be a day which Jimmy Sinclair, who served with the 7th Armoured Division, known as the Desert Rats, never expected to see, after experiencing several close shaves and losing friends in the process.

On one occasion, while in a truck being driven through the desert, the vehicle suffered a direct hit from a German plane, but luckily Jimmy survived.

He has many awards for bravery and counts himself as a friend of Camilla, Duchess of Rothesay and Cornwall, who is patron of the 7th Armoured Division in which her father, Bruce Shand, was an officer.


Earlier this year Jimmy, who lives in the town’s Blackcraigs, was treated to a surprise early birthday tea with the Duke and Duchess when they visited Holyrood Palace, and he was presented with a beautiful set of Caithness glass whisky glasses and a bottle of whisky from them.

Jimmy was born on August 18, 1912 and was brought up in Giffordtown near Ladybank by his grandparents after his mother died just a month after giving birth to him.


He recalls having to walk the two miles and back to Collessie School, and his grandparents having to get their water from a well at the bottom of the garden in which they kept two trout which kept the water clean.

When his father remarried he went to live with him in Coupar Angus, and on leaving school he trained as a slater, working with companies in Tayside before coming to Fife to work with a company in Dunfermline.

He married his late wife Elizabeth in 1938 and they lived for much of their married life in Cardenden, where they had one daughter Olive.

After the war Jimmy served for two years with the Control Commission in Berlin, before returning to Scotland to resume his job as a slater and plasterer.

He will celebrate his birthday at a party with family and friends in the Dean Park Hotel, at which a special guest will be the chairman of the 7th Armoured Division.