One of UK’s oldest men, who put long life down to “brandy, mince pies” and “luck” dies, aged 108

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THE UK’s third oldest man, who put his long life down to “brandy”, “mince pies” and “luck”, has died.

James Crombie, from Dunfermline, reached the remarkable age of 108 before he passed away last Friday (NOV 24) following a short illness.

The centenarian, who was also the second oldest Scot, credited brandy, luck and mince pies from local bakery Stephens as the secret to a long life.

James served in the Royal Marines Police during the Second World War and served in the Rosyth dockyard, a key tactical base for warships.

His granddaughter paid tribute to an “inspirational” and “family orientated” man.

James was an avid Dunfermline Athletic fan, and his hearse will be driven past East End Park at the request of the club.

The two oldest men in the UK, 109-year-old’s Bob Weighton from Hampshire and Alf Smith from Perth, bizarrely share the same birthday although they are not related.

James with one of his three great grandchildren.

Athletic fanatic James was born in Pittencrieff Street in Dunfermline on July 11 1909.

After marrying his wife Mary in 1934, they went on to have their daughter Mabel, and later, two grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

James was billeted at Stone House Barracks in Plymouth when he joined the Royal Marines during the war.

He was at Plymouth dockyard when it was badly hit by bombs, and was taken to hospital two nights in a row after a stone came down on him and his eyes were filled with dust.

James also helped rescue three children from a house which had been bombed in Plymouth. He volunteered because he was the youngest, and after climbing through a hole in the wall managed to get all three children to safety.

James in his Royal Marines uniform.

He was then “volunteered” by his superiors to join the Royal Marines Police and served in Rosyth Dockyard, in Fife.

Rosyth Dockyard was a key strategic point for British troops during both World Wars, and was home to the fleet’s warships.

Aside from his spell in the Royal Marines during the Second World War, James worked in the local Co-operative grocery until he retired at 65.

He began serving and delivering groceries with a wheelbarrow at 14, but by the time his retirement came around he had been promoted to managing 23 branches.

James lived with his granddaughter Coreen Wightman and her husband William for the past three years.

Speaking today (THU), said: “He was an inspiration, he was such a family orientated man.

“He had so many great stories to tell, and he loved his family.

“He would do exercises in his chair every day, he would put his arms up and he was very active.

“He never smoked, and barely drank, except for his wee bit of brandy. That was his favourite tipple.”

James with his telegram from the Queen.

Coreen added that James had quite an effect on the local community, who offered to help when they heard of his passing.

She said: “He loved his brandy, and Stephens’ mince pies.

“They’re even doing the food at his wake, they actually phoned us and asked if they could do it when they heard he had died.

“Dunfermline Athletic also asked us if we could drive the hearse past the ground on his funeral, and one of the football players will be carrying his coffin on the day.

“I think he would have been pleased with that.”

Coreen’s husband William said: “He lived a colourful but straight life. We are grateful for the time we had with him, he was an inspiration in our lives.

“He was level-headed and a very clever man who passed on so much happiness and knowledge.”

James’ funeral will take place on Friday December 8 at 2pm at Dunfermline crematorium.

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