Death of Camelon veteran Walter Sharp (106)

Falkirk’s oldest man has died 12 days after his 106th birthday.

By Jill Buchanan
Thursday, 20th August 2020, 4:45 pm

Walter Sharp passed away peacefully at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert yesterday morning.

He had celebrated his milestone birthday – which made him one of the oldest people in Scotland – on Friday, August 7.

Plans for a birthday party had been shelved after he fell days before the landmark occasion as he returned to his Camelon home from a holiday in Fife with son Brian and daughter-in-law Catherine.

Walter Sharp (16) pictured on VE Day 75th anniversary in May this year

Born in 50 Glasgow Road, Camelon on August 7, 1914 — just three days after the outbreak of the First World War — Walter was one of five children along with brothers Robert, Jack and William and sister Helen.

After attending Carmuirs Primary School and Camelon High School, he began working at the Carmuirs Iron Works before joining the Army at the age of 26.

Walter earned a clutch of medals in recognition of the service he gave to his country over a six-year period, including France’s Legion of Honour and the African Star, and toured several countries such as Belgium, The Netherlands and Italy.

During his career in the military he would also meet his wife, Doris, who died in 1990, while serving in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in Surrey.

Walter Sharp pictured last August on his 105th birthday with son Brian and daughter-in-law Catherine Sharp

Speaking to The Falkirk Herald last year, he told how the thought of being able to return home to Doris for a period was one he still recalled with pleasure.

He explained: “We went right through Africa and over to Bari in Italy and that was the best Christmas present I ever got.

“We were all singing Pack Up Your Troubles and this brigadier said, ‘Stop singing that song, you’re going home for the second front’.

That was in the December but it was the March before we did.”

Walter admitted to witnessing various harrowing sights in the line of duty, including 20 men being killed when a bomb landed in Portsmouth on his very first night in the Army.

However, he also had fond memories of his military days, many of which revolve around how pleasantly surprised he was at the fare on offer.

Walter continued: “We thought we would be eating just vegetables in Africa but it was meat and vegetables every day!

“In Italy, there were 12 at a table and if it was good you used to wash the dinner set and go back and join the queue again!”

However, he never forgot all those comrades who lost their lives serving their country and on May 8 this year as the nation celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Walter stood in his garden, proudly wearing his medals, and saluted their sacrifice.

Walter and his wife had their son Brian, who is now 73, after marrying in Horley in 1944 where the local church bells rang for the first time since being silenced at the start of the war.

A role with Carmuirs Iron Works remained open upon his return home from the frontline.

Walter was made redundant for a short time when the factory closed its doors for good in 1967 but he soon afterwards secured work with bus builder Alexander Dennis as a storeman before taking retirement.

Up until a few years ago he was jokingly known as the world’s oldest paper boy as he would get up at 6.30am every day to deliver newspapers to his neighbours in Camelon’s Carmuirs Avenue, where he lived right up until his death.

When he wasn’t putting in a shift, the avid East Stirlingshire FC supporter would regularly go to watch the club’s home matches with Brian and was also known to spend his spare time gardening.

His constant companion in recent years was his West Highland terrier Harry, but sadly he died earlier this year, aged 14.

Walter Sharp, a true gentleman and Camelon legend.