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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 05:46 GMT 06:46 UK
Oldest war veteran reaches 106
Alfred Anderson is 106
Alfred said it has been quite a year
Scotland's oldest World War One veteran is celebrating a birthday milestone he would never have thought possible during his darkest days in the trenches.

Alfred Anderson, from Alyth, in Perthshire, is joining his family to mark his 106th birthday.

He was only 18 when he set out from his home in Angus with the 5th Battalion The Black Watch in 1914.

"We lived for each day during the war," he said. "At 106, I do much the same again."

Alfred Anderson during the war
Alfred was in The Black Watch regiment

This weekend Alfred will be the guest of honour at The Black Watch annual reunion at their regimental headquarters of Balhousie Castle in Perth.

"I'm looking forward to meeting up with other Black Watch veterans, but they're all just young lads," said Alfred.

"I'm the grandaddy of them all."

Alfred was born in Dundee in 1896, one of six children.

His father had a builders and joiners business in Newtyle which Alfred took over after the war.

A widower, he has five children - all pensioners - and claims he has lost count of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Emergency treatment

For two years, Alfred endured some of the most horrific trench warfare of WW1, until he was injured by a piece of German shrapnel in the back of his neck in 1916.

He had to lie injured in his trench all day until they could get him back behind the lines under cover of darkness and then on to a field hospital for emergency treatment.

After he was invalided out of active service, he was trained as an instructor and ended the war as a staff sergeant.

During the World War Two he played an active part in the Home Guard with his military experience proving invaluable in setting up new units in Scotland.

In 1998 Alfred was awarded France's highest military honour - the Légion d'Honneur - for his services during WWI.


If I dwelled on what happened during those terrible times I would never have lived to see 106

Alfred Anderson

Still healthy and active, Alfred lives on his own near his daughter in Alyth, still maintaining his independence.

"But just for today I'm willing to sit back and be pampered - it's not every day you get to celebrate being 106."

The death of the Queen Mother, the colonel-in-chief of the Black Watch regiment, was the lowest point in what he claims has been "quite a year".

Alfred served as batman to the late Queen Mother's brother Major Fergus Bowes-Lyon for a short time before his death at Loos in 1915.

However, Alfred said that he does not want to dwell on his war stories.

"It's over, it's past. If I dwelled on what happened during those terrible times I would never have lived to see 106. It's today that matters and a better tomorrow," he said.

See also:

07 Jun 01 | Scotland
12 Jan 00 | Scotland
18 Jun 99 | Asia-Pacific
18 Apr 98 | Americas
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