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Real Lives - D-Day landings hero celebrates 105th birthday

Jock Wilson, the oldest survivor of the D-Day landings, celebrates his 105th birthday, while former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary worker Jessie Dolan turns 80.

BORN at the family home in Easter Road on September 7, 1903, Jock attended Leith Academy before starting work as a stationer and nib maker in 1917.

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, he was 36 and originally deemed too old to fight but, by 1941, he was called up due to his earlier service in the Territorial Army.

At this time, he had already met his wife, Lily Ross, a cashier at the Co-op in Nicolson Street. They met at a tea party in the Marine Garden ballroom in Seafield, and were married in October 1934 at the Plaza ballroom in Morningside. Sadly, Lily died in 1964.

When his daughter Joyce was just two weeks old, Jock left home to fight with the 79th Regiment of the Royal Artillery and he landed on Juno beach on the June 6, 1944. He was later awarded the Military Medal for his bravery that day.

After the war, Mr Wilson, a lifelong Hibs fan, returned to stationers McNiven and Cameron where he worked as the head dispatcher until his retirement in 1976.

Three years ago, the great-grandfather of four, who now lives in Dunbar, was awarded the Legion d'Honneur at the French Ambassador's Residence in London for his role in liberation of France.

Jock is set to be visited by East Lothian's Lord Lieutenant, Gareth Morrison, who will present the ex-serviceman with his second letter from the Queen.

&#149 Jessie Dolan was born in Aberdeen, the middle child of Arthur and Barbara Ross. She had a happy childhood in the Granite City and lived there during the Second World War.

Jessie had plans to enlist and join the Army but this was soon quashed by her father. She joined the TA instead and it was at TA camp where Jessie met her future husband, Peter.

They married in 1951, and Peter's work took them to Glasgow and then Bonnyrigg, where she has lived for the past 46 years.

The couple had three daughters – Kathleen, Lynne and Rosalind – who all live nearby, but sadly in the late 1960s, Jessie's marriage ended and she was forced into the position of breadwinner for a very young family.

Jessie worked in the old Royal Infirmary, first as a domestic assistant and then in the linen pool. She later moved to Scottish & Newcastle as a canteen assistant and worked there until her retirement in 1981.

Jessie has had some serious health problems, but addresses these with her usual determined attitude. She overcame breast cancer and is a huge supporter of the screening programme, and joined a support group to help raise funds for cancer charities. Her family say the diagnosis of a recent heart problem will not hinder Jessie in any way.

Jessie celebrates her 80th birthday on Tuesday.

 
 
 

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