Falkirk war hero dies

Thomas Anderson and wife Marion on their diamond wedding anniversary. Picture: Michael Gillen
Thomas Anderson and wife Marion on their diamond wedding anniversary. Picture: Michael Gillen

A former Royal Marine Commando who saw at first hand the atrocities of the Second World War in the Far East has died.

Thomas Anderson (89) rarely spoke of the horrors he witnessed, particularly when he was at the liberation of the infamous Changi Jail and when he had to help cut down the bodies of soldiers from Anderson Bridge in Singapore.

It was only much later in life, sadly at the onset of dementia, that he finally recalled those terrible events.

His family learned how, after coming across a young orphan boy in the jungle, he took him to local medics for treatment for his injuries. An act that later earned him a commendation.

The eldest son of William and Mary Anderson, Tom, along with brothers William and James, and sister Anne, was born at McKillops Tenements, Thornbridge and raised in Laurieston.

His early years weren’t without mishap and as a young boy was knocked down at Laurieston Square and dragged several yards by a car but thankfully made a full recovery.

Aged only nine, he came third in the Laurieston Marathon and his father persuaded the organisers to give him a prize as those who beat him were much older.

His first job was as a plater at Grangemouth Docks but he was called up when he was 18 and became a Royal Marine Commando. Initially based in Devon, he eventually travelled throughout the Far East and while on the transport ship had the important role of being the Rum Boy, ensuring everyone got their tot of rum each day.

It was in the Royal Marines that he struck up a friendship with Johnny Beattie, pictured together below, who went on to become the well-loved Scottish entertainer and comedian. In fact, Tom used to say that Johnny had pinched his jokes.

After being demobbed he returned to work as a sheet metal worker in local foundries, including A.L. Gordon and Carron Iron Works.

Before his retiral, he worked as a porter at Falkirk Royal Infirmary and during the Polmont Rail Disaster in 1984 when 13 people were killed, he volunteered to help with the rescue work.

A founder member of Laurieston Cycling Club, it was during one of its outings that he met his future wife, Marion Miller, in Linlithgow.

They married in the Royal Burgh in 1952 and were together 63 years before Marion’s death in July 2015.

The couple lived in Langlees for several years where they raised their family, son Billy and daughter Marion.

He continued to wear his blazer with the Royal Marine crest with pride and in 2005 was one of the veterans awarded the Freedom of Falkirk by the local authority.

His love of life and the great outdoors were typified by his hobbies, bowling, cycling, gardening and, when he wasn’t watching Falkirk FC, would often be spotted walking around Laurieston and Callendar Park.

Tom also loved to sing and was a regular attender at Laurieston Parish Church, where his funeral took place on December 21.

His son and daughter, along with grandchildren, Alasdair and Billie, often used to tell him he was their hero, but his response was always the same: “No heroes came home.”

But they know theirs did.