War memories: How one Fifer's dad survived Siege of Tobruk only to be taken as a POW

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Davy Young, from Glenrothes, is the branch secretary with the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) Fife Branch, whose father served with The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders during the Second World War.

William Young was born in Glasgow in 1914 and signed up aged 24 years old in 1938.

He was posted to India. Six months later he thought he was coming home but the Second World War was declared and his battalion was sent to Egypt.

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William and Davy Young.William and Davy Young.
William and Davy Young.

Davy said: “The 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders (Queen’s Own) took part in the Siege of Tobruk. On June 22, 1942 the Brigade Commander capitulated and my father remembers being part of the battalion which fell in and marched to a makeshift POW camp.

“The Battalion held on for a further 24 hours after the surrender order. My father was guarded by Italian soldiers, but only for a short time. He remembered when they went to sleep for the night and awoke the next morning the guards were now Germans.”

Davy Young in uniform.Davy Young in uniform.
Davy Young in uniform.

Although he survived, more hard times were yet to come.

“The majority of the Battalion was transported to Poland to do forced labour in coal mines. He spent three years there, and returned to the UK in May 1945. It was a time that my father rarely talked about.

“He was discharged in March 1946. His Certificate of Service said the reason was ‘services no longer required,’ – even to this day that still brings a tear to my eye.”

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Back on civvy street. life changed once more for the former solider as he married and had a family of five – four boys and a girl. DAvy was the only son who followed in his footsteps and joined the army.

He said: “Over the years I kept asking why he did not receive any campaign medals and he kept brushing me off. In the early 1980s I was posted to ACIO Glasgow as a careers adviser, where I decided to apply for his medals. After a few months I received four, and my CO agreed to present them to him.

“My father died when he was 86, but he always kept saying to me over the years, ‘old soldiers never die – they just fade away’.

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