Emotional meeting between Scottish WW2 veteran and son of fellow prisoner-of-war following search for survivors

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A Second World War veteran who appealed to be reunited with his fellow prisoners-of- war has met the son of one of his former comrades.

Jimmy Johnstone, 98, launched the appeal in August and was “overwhelmed” by the worldwide response.

He was seeking survivors of his wartime ordeal, in which he was captured in France at the battle for Saint-Valery-en-Caux and then witnessed men die as the PoWs were transported to camps in Nazi-occupied Poland in cattle trucks after marching hundreds of miles.

He endured five years in the camps, ending with an escape bid on a death march in temperatures of minus 28C, where prisoners who collapsed were shot, as camp commanders retreated into Germany.

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The son of one of the four men with whom he tried to escape got in contact after hearing his appeal, and the two men had an emotional meeting in Aberdeen, where they both live, organised by Scottish War Blinded.

Jimmy Johnstone was captured in France at the battle for Saint-Valery-en-Caux and then witnessed men die as the PoWs were transported to camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. Picture: PA

Jimmy Johnstone was captured in France at the battle for Saint-Valery-en-Caux and then witnessed men die as the PoWs were transported to camps in Nazi-occupied Poland. Picture: PA

Sandy Petrie, 73, spoke of his father Bert Petrie, who died ten years ago aged 86.

Mr Johnstone said: “Meeting Sandy was very emotional as I didn’t think I would get any response to my appeal. I just couldn’t believe it was happening.

“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 confinement) 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.

Mr Johnstone appealed to be reunited with his fellow prisoners-of-war in August. Picture: PA

Mr Johnstone appealed to be reunited with his fellow prisoners-of-war in August. Picture: PA

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

"For my father's sake"

Bert Petrie served with the Gordon Highlanders in the 51st Highland Division at St Valery, alongside Mr Johnstone who served with the Royal Engineers.

Sandy Petrie 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.

“My father Bert was captured at St Valery and was at the same camps as Jimmy.

“St Valery is seldom mentioned and often gets lost when people talk about Dunkirk, so it’s important that these soldiers’ stories are shared,” he added.