A Burma Star war hero and his wife who are still together after 67 years are telling their story this Valentine’s Day to back a campaign marking 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.
Jim (91) and Nancy (90) Carnduff from Skermorlie story is one of enduring love. This Valentine’s Day they are showing their support for the Voices of Veterans campaign as they call on other couples who have met their true love through service in the Army, Navy or Air Force to share their love stories.
The couple are both supporting the Royal British Legion Scotland’s campaign to encourage ex-servicemen and women to share their stories this year – whether they left military service yesterday or 50 years ago.
Voices of Veterans is a Scotland wide campaign launched by Scotland’s biggest veterans charity to pay tribute to brave veterans of all ages that have served in conflicts past and present during 2014 to commemorate the centenary of World War One which started 100 years ago. (1)
Nancy and Jim have been together for 67 years. They have three grand children and two great grand children. They first met when they sat in the same night school class in the early 1940s but they were both called to serve their country in 1942. It was after service that they would finally get together.
Jim joined the RAF when he was 20 and Nancy joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) at 19. Jim served abroad for several years as a radar and wireless technician in India, Burma and Palestine. Nancy left the WAAF as a Corporal. As well as experiencing the buzz bombs in London Nancy said she learned about love in a time of War.
While based at Lossiemouth one of Nancy’s jobs was to read all the mail that came in for the Officers to check there was nothing dangerous enclosed. “I never came across anything dangerous but I do remember one letter from an Officer’s mum saying that her son was having an affair and could he be posted to another unit!”
When Nancy and Jim left service they each moved back home to North Ayrshire and it was on their daily bus ride to work that they met again. After joining the same badminton club they started dating and married in 1951.
Nancy said, “We got to know each other on that bus journey then joined the same badminton club and Jim asked me out. We started dating and that was it – we were together and we married a few years later in 1951. We have been together ever since!”
Jim was awarded the Burma Star medal, given to those who worked on the 177 Squadron Beaufighters. The Japanese called the planes the ‘whispering death’ as they were not heard or seen until it was too late, flying low to avoid enemy radar. The squadron lost half their air crew.
He said they were backing the Voices of Veterans campaign to help remember all those who served in the forces. “I want to show support for the Royal British Legion Scotland’s Voices of Veterans campaign to help commemorate all those whose lives have been changed by service, those who have found love and those who have lost loved ones, in World War One and in every war since then.”
The Royal British Legion Scotland was formed following the First World War after ex-servicemen returned to a land allegedly ‘fit for heroes to live in’. In reality they faced unemployment, starvation, and widespread misery in a country struggling to rehabilitate four million soldiers, many suffering from physical injury and trauma. (2)
Kevin Gray MM, Chief Executive Officer at The Royal British Legion Scotland said, “We would love to hear about the real experiences of our servicemen, women and their families. If people have got together after meeting through their service we would love to hear from them. ”
“2014 is a special year in our history. The Voices of Veterans’ campaign is about saying thanks to and remembering the sacrifices of veterans – and their families. . It’s so important to preserve the memories and stories passed down through families and make sure they are not lost forever. If families have a military story to tell we hope that they will get in touch and support our campaign this year.”
Today the Legion is the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland with around 170 Branches, 70 Clubs, and a membership of over 35,000. (3) The charity provides a range of specialist services, including free welfare and disablement pension advice, as well as providing comradeship activities and support to veterans and their families.
During the campaign the charity plans to work with local branches to organise events including local exhibitions of veteran’s stories, letters, photos and memorabilia as part of the Legion’s commemoration of World War One. The Voices of Veterans stories are also published on the charity’s website and magazine Scottish Legion News.