Grangemouth war veteran still calling the shots

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During the war he had to keep a sharp eye out for enemy U-boats.

Now, 70 years later, 90-year-old Tommy Tetsill still has to keep his wits about him as he presides over the fiercely competitive bingo nights at Grangemouth British Legion.

He said: “I get on well with everyone and it’s a good friendly night out. You get the odd false call, but there is never any carry on at the Legion.”

Camelon man Tommy has been calling the numbers at the Dundas Street venue three nights a week since the turn of the century and has become something of a figurehead for the club.

“I’ve done the bingo calling for 14 years. I gave it up a year ago and said I would go back and do it again if they were ever stuck - so here I am back again.

“It passes my time and keeps me occupied- if it wasn’t for the bingo I probably wouldn’t be out at night and I don’t know what I would do. There is the dancing, but I don’t dance now.

“The tell me I must be the oldest man to ever call the bingo. People always take me for 70 or 71 though, because I keep myself fit.”

Tommy worked as a moulder at a local foundry before he joined the Royal Navy as a teenager in 1941.

Serving aboard the F class destroyer HMS Fame, Able Seaman Tetsill and his crew mates acted as escorts for the convoys of merchant vessels crossing the Atlantic, searching for deadly U-boat submarines and engaging with them to protect the convoy.

On one memorable night the ship destroyed a U-boat and fished the survivors out of the ocean, taking 50 Germans prisoner.

“They were just sailors like we were,” said Tommy. “They were the same as us - but there was this one lad who was a right stubborn one and we had to keep the gun on him all the time.”

Tommy came out of the services in 1946 due to commitments at home.

“If it hadn’t been for family reasons I would have stayed in the Navy,’’ he said. It’s a good, healthy life. I probably never realised the danger we were in.”

When he returned home he went back to his moulding job and worked for a number of years in Mitchell’s Foundry.

He said: “I went from earning 10 shillings a week to £3.50 a week - a real man’s wage.”

Tommy and wife Elizabeth, who sadly died at the age of 77, had two children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

“The doctor said to me, how do you keep so young. I said it was all the hard work I did, all those double shifts. The secret is hard work.”

And Tommy is still working hard, calling the bingo at the Legion twice on Tuesday, twice on Thursday and once on Saturday. “My number’s not up yet,” he smiled.