NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

War veteran, 98, meets son of comrade after appeal

Jimmy Johnstone (left) and Sandy Petrie Image copyright Scottish War Blinded
Image caption Jimmy Johnstone, left, had an emotional meeting with Sandy Petrie

A former soldier aged 98 who survived World War Two and five years as a prisoner has met the son of one of his former comrades after making an appeal.

Jimmy Johnstone, who lives in Aberdeen, was 16 when he enlisted in 1937.

He was captured by German troops in northern France after the battle for Saint-Valery-en-Caux in 1940.

After a successful public appeal in August, Mr Johnstone has now met the 73-year-old son of one of the men he tried to escape with.

Sandy Petrie spoke of his father Bert Petrie, who died 10 years ago aged 86.

Mr Johnstone worked with the Scottish War Blinded charity in the hope any of his fellow prisoners or their families could get in touch.

The surrendered 51st Highland Division soldiers had to travel hundreds of miles to camps in Germany, via Belgium and the Netherlands.

Image copyright Scottish War Blinded
Image caption Jimmy Johnstone signed up as a teenager

Mr Johnstone described meeting his comrade's son as "very emotional".

'Brave man'

He said: "We talked about Bert and life in the PoW camps. I spoke about when we met. This was while we were waiting to go into the cooler (solitary) after one of my escapes.

"I told Sandy what a brave man his dad was. He stood up to the German guards and refused to work until they got more food.

"The German guard held him at gunpoint but he didn't give in and they got more food. I admired Bert for that."

Image copyright Scottish War Blinded
Image caption Bert Petrie died 10 years ago

Mr Petrie, also of Aberdeen, said: "When I heard about the appeal on the radio, I quickly recognised it was my father being referred to and I was very, very interested to hear the story.

"They were some of the same stories my father had told me. I felt I would like to meet this chap, and to meet him for my father's sake too as I know he would have wanted to meet Jimmy."

'Greatest respect'

He said his father would have been "delighted" about the meeting.

Mr Petrie said: "It was very touching to hear him refer to my father. He mentioned him quite emotionally.

"I have the greatest respect for Jimmy and the men and women of his generation, sadly a dwindling group. They saved our civilisation and way of life. It was a privilege to have met him."

Veteran Mr Johnstone added: "It is really important that as we approach Remembrance Day we remember all men who fought in all battles, those that survived and those who died."

Any survivors of the events Mr Johnstone experienced, or other relatives willing to speak to him, are asked to contact the charity on 0800 035 6409.

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