Scots war hero Sir Tommy Macpherson dies at 94

Sir Tommy in a uniform he wore in the Second World War. Picture: John Paul
Sir Tommy in a uniform he wore in the Second World War. Picture: John Paul
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A SCOT who became Britain’s most decorated soldier for his audacious exploits during the Second World War – which included single-handedly forcing a column of German troops and SS Panzer tanks to surrender – has died at the age 94.

Sir Tommy Macpherson, who fought with No 11 (Scottish) Commando in Europe, and was awarded the Military Cross three times, the Croix de Guerre three times and the Legion d’Honneur, died on Thursday.

He is among the former servicemen and women who will be honoured tomorrow in a host of Remembrance Sunday events in towns, cities and villages across Scotland.

Renowned for his bravery, Edinburgh-born Sir Tommy was only 23 when he was part of a forward party in occupied France ahead of D Day. He caused so much damage to German military infrastructure that they placed a massive price of 300,000 francs on his head.

His most fearless act came during the same deployment. He confronted the leader of a 23,000-strong column of battle-hardened troops, led by an SS Panzer division, persuaded them they were outnumbered and outgunned by Allied forces, and forced them to surrender.

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His indomitable spirit saw him make numerous escape attempts following his capture by Italian troops while on a mission in Libya.

After two years in captivity, he made his final break for freedom, helped by a black marketeer and the Polish resistance, and covered 300 miles of enemy territory before stowing away on a coal ship bound for neutral Sweden, then heading back home to Scotland.

Rob Ritchie, chairman of the community council in Newtonmore, Inverness-shire, the village where he lived, said: “Sir Tommy died in hospital in Inverness on Thursday.

“He was always adventurous and would walk the hills in his kilt. Weather meant nothing to him. In the last few years, he was in a wheelchair but was always out with his carers. He will be a big loss to the village.”

Last night, the Scott Monument in Edinburgh’s Princes Street was lit up in “poppy red” at dusk in tribute to those who died in the First World War, the centenary of which is commemorated this year.

The monument, which has a joint Garden of Remembrance run by Legion Scotland and the Scottish Poppy Appeal around its base, will remain lit until Remembrance Day on Tuesday. Scotland’s national Remembrance Day parade tomorrow, led by Legion Scotland, will start in the city at 10am. It will gather at the Stone of Remembrance at the City Chambers in the Royal Mile to be met by the Lord Provost for the act of Remembrance and a wreath-laying ceremony.

This will be followed by a service in St Giles’ Cathedral.

In Glasgow, Lord Provost Sadie Docherty will lead the city’s ceremony at the cenotaph in George Square.

In Aberdeen, Lord Provost George Adam will lead a short Remembrance ceremony and the laying of wreaths at the war memorial on Schoolhill.

Dundee’s Depute Lord Provost Christina Roberts will lead Remembrance events in that city, including a wreath-laying at the Law war memorial.

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