Reunited after 65 years – thanks to the Falkirk Herald

Sharing memories...David Lawrie (left) and Archie Jamieson had a lot of laughs, reminiscing about their national service days. (Pic: Andy Thompson Photography')
Sharing memories...David Lawrie (left) and Archie Jamieson had a lot of laughs, reminiscing about their national service days. (Pic: Andy Thompson Photography')

A veteran from Falkirk has been reunited with one of his old muckers – thanks to one of our stories.

Back in July, we spoke to national serviceman David Lawrie who was enjoying a new lease of life thanks to Legion Scotland’s Veterans Community Support Service.

Young recruits...Archie Jamieson (left) and David Lawrie were so fresh-faced they were mistaken for army cadets!

Young recruits...Archie Jamieson (left) and David Lawrie were so fresh-faced they were mistaken for army cadets!

In the article, David (87) said the befriending service had opened up a whole new world to him.

Having lost his wife Betty to cancer four years ago and believing all of his old friends were gone, David feared becoming a recluse.

But thanks to the Legion Scotland service he had enjoyed regular visits from Royal Navy petty officer Robert Holland and even a holiday to Blackpool.

David spoke out about the service to appeal for more volunteers to come forward and by way of thanks to the Legion for its support.

Far from home...David Lawrie spent five weeks on a boat making his way to Singapore for his national service in Malaya with the Gordon Highlanders.

Far from home...David Lawrie spent five weeks on a boat making his way to Singapore for his national service in Malaya with the Gordon Highlanders.

But, as luck would have it, he got far more than he could ever have dreamed.

For the feature also appeared in our other weekly titles across Scotland and was spotted by one of his old comrades.

On a number of occasions while visiting family in Aberdeen, David took several detours into Kirriemuir – looking for a lad he met during his national service training.

He’d last seen Archibald (Archie) Jamieson in 1953, when he came down to Falkirk for a visit with soon-to-be wife, Margaret.

The pair then lost touch; David did try to find him but never succeeded.

That is until an email landed in my inbox from one Elizabeth Baillie who said her dad Archie was desperate to get in contact!

We called David and, several phone calls later, they agreed to meet up at Archie’s new home in Brechin.

But it was actually David’s grandaughter Paige (20) who made sure they didn’t just talk about it!

David explained: “She said to me: Look Papa, you’ve got to make it happen.

“Her brother, my grandson James (17), plays for Forfar Albion and they were due to play Brechin.

“So Paige made all the arrangements. She came down here to pick me up and told her dad Douglas he was taking us all up in the car to Brechin. Just like that!

“It was a great day and Archie and me spent a lot of the time laughing.”

There was plenty of news to catch up on as the old pals hadn’t seen each other for an incredible 65 years.

But there was also much to reminisce about as both David and Archie had kept special albums, detailing their service history.

They were able to pore over the pictures as they talked about the good old days and enjoyed a cake, specially baked by Elizabeth.

David said: “I was good friends with two other lads from Falkirk, Willie Miller from Camelon and Robert Drummond from Airth, who was best man at my wedding.

“We left on the train together from Larbert to go up to Fort George.

“Archie got on the train at Dundee and we all ended up on the same training squad.

“We were posted into the Gordon Highlanders and sent to a course in England.

“In the middle of that we got a weekend pass. Archie and I had never been to London so we decided to go.

“At that time the big venue was the Hammersmith Pally where Ray Ellington and his quartet played.

“We waited in this huge queue to get in but when we got to the box office, the lady thought we were cadets.”

Luckily, two MPs were able to verify the lads ages.

David said: “It was an insult being called army cadets but we got in for nothing and seeing Ray really made our night!”

Sadly, the pair were not destined to serve together.

The night before they reported to the Gordons to head to Malaya, Archie had an abscess on his appendix.

David recalled: “When I visited him in hospital, he asked me to keep a place for him. But he went on to serve with the Seaforths.

“Not long after we were demobbed, we met up in 1953 and got our pictures taken in Dollar Park. But then we lost touch – it wasn’t as easy before mobile phones!”

However, the old pals made up for lost time when they were finally reunited and Archie is hoping to visit David in the new year.

Meantime, the families have become firm friends.

David added: “Paige was with me and had a great time talking to Archie, Margaret and Elizabeth. Then Douglas and James joined us too!”

Born and brought up in Falkirk, David worked as a bookbinder at Dunn and Wilson. After national service, from 1951 to 1952, he met Betty (nee Vallely) at the firm’s social that Christmas.

The couple married in Falkirk Parish Church in 1956 and had Kathryn (60), George (57) and Douglas (52).

They moved to Alloa in 1970 when David became personnel manager at the glassworks. Taking early retirement in 1988, he went on to become a respected football coach with Forth Valley Disability Sports.