Brave Buchan soldier honoured

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A BUCHAN woman was just one of four next of kin from Aberdeenshire who was presented with the Elizabeth Cross on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen in national recognition for their loss last week.

Laura Clark, of Mains of Pitfour Cottages, Mintlaw, was presented with the award which recognised the acts of bravery shown by her brother, Private Ian Gray of the Gordon Highlanders, who died in a forest fire in the Troodos mountains of Cyprus during the Second World War.

The Elizabeth Cross, a sterling silver emblem in the shape of a cross over a wreath, was presented to the women by The Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire James Ingleby along with Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Wardner, Captain David Chapman MBE - AUOTC and Major D M Harvey SCOTS SO2 G1 Gen HQ 51 (Sc) Bde.

Mrs Clark explained last week how the telegram which told her family about the death of Ian had the wrong Private number on it, so it was a few days before the family were certain of their loss.

She added: “I only found out recently that the Private number was wrong. You don’t think to check things like that when you hear the news.

“We were all devastated, I can remember the day very well, I had my daughter who was just three days old and my mother just collapsed, it was very upsetting.

“Ian went out to Cyprus for his 21st birthday in early April and he died in June, I had never even heard of the place until he sent him there. Beforehand he was training to be a plasterer and he’d just finished his apprenticeship when he was called up for National Service. He never even got a full pay packet.

“We received one or two letters but he didn’t enjoy being there, he never saw the beauty of Cyprus.

“We travelled to Cyprus 50 years after the fire and we were shown around the area where it had happened.

“Tthere was no way the men could have escaped.

“We were told that someone actually picked Ian up and put him on a lorry but there was no way of any vehicles getting to any of the men.

Mrs Clark and her two other brothers, Alfie and Stanley are very proud of the bravery their youngest sibling Ian shown.