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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 20:37 GMT
Prince in tribute to war veteran
Alfred Anderson
Alfred Anderson witnessed the Christmas truce of 1914
Prince Charles has paid tribute to Scotland's oldest man and the country's longest surviving veteran of World War I, who has died at the age of 109.

Alfred Anderson, who served with the 5th Battalion the Black Watch, died in a nursing home in Angus.

Born in 1896, he was in one of the first British contingents to serve on the Western Front.

Prince Charles, who knew the veteran, said: "I was very deeply saddened to hear that Alfred Anderson had died."

Mr Anderson was thought to have been the longest surviving veteran of the 1914 Christmas truce when British and German troops shook hands in no-man's-land.

For a short time he was batman to Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, who was the brother of the late Queen Mother.

We should not forget him, and the others of his generation, who gave so much for their country
Prince Charles

This special relationship resulted in a private visit by Prince Charles in 2002.

The prince added: "I met Alfred on several occasions, once at his home in the small town of Alyth in Perthshire and more recently at Balhousie Castle in Perth.

"As many in Scotland and beyond will know, he had a legendary reputation within the Black Watch and had a special connection with my grandmother's family through his service with her older brother Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon at the Battle of Loos in 1915.

"He will be missed by many. We should not forget him, and the others of his generation, who gave so much for their country."

Mr Anderson, from Alyth, in Perthshire, died on Monday morning at Mundamalla Nursing Home in Newtyle.

The Reverend Neil Gardner, of Alyth Parish Church, said: "Alfred passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning.

Alfred Anderson and Prince Charles - Mod Crown Copyright/PA
Mr Anderson received a private visit from Prince Charles

"He was Scotland's oldest man but he remained lucid almost until the end. He was a very gracious and unassuming man."

Mr Anderson was 18 when he went off to war and saw some of the bloodiest fighting of the campaign.

He suffered a shrapnel wound to the back of the neck in 1916.

He had to lie in a trench throughout the day and was taken away for medical treatment under the cover of darkness.

His injury ended his active service and he spent the rest of the war as an instructor, finishing the war as a staff sergeant.

Alfred was a fine old soldier who was a brilliant example of old world courtliness
Neil Griffiths
Royal British Legion Scotland

However, Mr Anderson continued his military service in the Home Guard during World War II.

Speaking when he marked his 106th birthday in 2002, Mr Anderson said: "We lived for each day during the war. At 106, I do much the same again."

Mr Anderson was born in Dundee and was one of six children.

His father had a building and joinery business which Mr Anderson took charge of after the war.

The widower, who had five children, said he had lost count of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

'Quick wit'

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

Neil Griffiths, of the Royal British Legion of Scotland, said: "Alfred was a fine old soldier who was a brilliant example of old world courtliness.

"Everyone who met him was always impressed by his vitality and great pride in his personal appearance.

"He was gentle and very humorous, with a quick wit. He used to say until recently that his ambition was to die shot in bed by a jealous lover.

"But I think also there was a great sadness in his heart that he had outlived his generation - all his friends had died."

The government minister with responsibility for veterans, Don Touhig said Mr Anderson's death was "a great loss".

"Not only is he believed to be the longest surviving Scottish WWI veteran but he is also thought to be the last survivor of the 1914 Christmas truce.

"The sacrifices made and remarkable bravery displayed by Mr Anderson and his comrades is a lesson for us all."




SEE ALSO:
Oldest war veteran reaches 106
25 Jun 02 |  Scotland


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