A ROYAL Navy veteran of World War Two from Helensburgh who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic when the German battleship Bismarck was finally sunk has won a Lottery-funded trip to meet his former comrades.
Walter Moffat (pictured above, then and now) is one of two burgh veterans who will be making emotional trips to places they served, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.
The Fund's Heroes Return 2 programme provides funding to World War Two veterans, their spouses, widows and widowers and carers, to visit the areas where the veterans saw active service.
Announcing the awards in August 2010, Alison Magee, chairman of the Scotland Committee of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: “We owe a huge debt to men like Mr Moffat who risked their lives to give us the freedom we enjoy today.
“I am delighted that through the Heroes Return 2 programme we can honour their courage and enable them to meet and pay respect to their former comrades. For many this may be the final chance to do so, or to return to the places they hold dear — which is why the Lottery funding is so important.”
On May 27 1941, after an eight-day pursuit, the sinking of the Bismarck in the Atlantic Ocean marked a turning point in the war.
Walter, who is now 84, remembers the day well. He was an 18 year old Boy Seaman serving on HMS King George V which supported HMS Rodney in sinking the German battleship.
Mr Moffat, who served in conflicts on the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Pacific Oceans for the duration of the Second World War, said: “Although the HMS King George V played a role in a number of attacks, the most memorable for me was the Bismarck.
“People have asked me if I was scared, but to be honest I just didn’t have the time. Danger just didn’t come into it and I knew that my job was to stay at my action station and get on with the job.”
Thanks to the grant, Mr Moffat will travel to Portsmouth for a commemorative visit on Sunday September 5 with those men with whom he served on that remarkable day.
“This is something we try to do as often as we can,” he said. “This year those of us that are left are meeting in Portsmouth where many of us met as young men. We will be parading our pale blue standard in church and will use the occasion to have a good catch up.”
An RAF veteran from Helensburgh will make his own emotional pilgrimage to the War Graves Cemetery at Durnbach, Germany, thanks to a Heroes Return 2 award.
George Thomson (pictured above, then and now), who is now 86, will visit the graves of two of his former comrades who lost their lives on September 12 1944 after their plane was shot down during a raid on Frankfurt. Mr Thomson, who was the navigator, was one of the seven members of the crew to survive.
He said: “We lost two of our men when our plane was shot down over Frankfurt. Our pilot and mid upper gunner were buried at the cemetery in Durnbach, and on Sunday September 12 we will go to the cemetery for the first time to pay our respects.
“I am one of three surviving members of the crew who survived the raid and I’m looking forward to visiting the cemetery with them. They are coming from Leeds and South Wales, so it will be good for us to meet up and see where our comrades have been buried side by side.”
- Current photos by Robert Bell, Freelance Photographer, Garelochhead.