Veterans photographed ahead of VE Day celebrations

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ARMED forces charities have commissioned a series of portraits of Second World War veterans ahead of VE Day celebrations.

Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland have some together to tell the stories of 15 veterans in a series of photos taken over the last two years.

Plans had been in place for these to form part of this week’s formal VE Day 75th anniversary events in Edinburgh, however this has been revised to a “virtual celebration” held on Friday due to the pandemic.

Among those photographed, is the oldest-living Desert Rat, Jimmy Sinclair, who is 107 years old.

Jimmy Sinclair displays his medals – Image by Wattie Cheung/Poppyscotland

Jimmy, from Kirkcaldy, fought against Rommel in the north African desert. He served as a gunner with the elite Chestnut Troop, 1st Regiment Horse Artillery, of the 7th Armoured Division.

Speaking about his experiences he said: “It’s a pity it all happened. We didn’t treat the Germans as enemies; they were combatants in battle. Most of them didn’t want to be there either.”

The images were taken by Glaswegian photographer Wattie Cheung, 52, who said: “I’ve always been impressed by the veterans I have photographed at the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies over the past 25 years.

“I have noticed in the past few years that there have been fewer veterans coming back to the ceremonies and always had in the back of mind that I should do something for a project.

Ms Corbett is one of 15 people who have been photographed – Image by Wattie Cheung/Poppyscotland

“So when I got hold of the vintage Graflex camera with a view to do a project of portraits it seemed a perfect match to use a camera built in the 1940s to photograph the Second World War veterans.

“It has been a pleasure and honour to photograph these amazing people. I always think photography is like a time machine – it captures a moment forever that you can go back to, to relive and observe another time.

“The veterans are a link to the past and they won’t be around forever to tell their stories. Listening to their recollections of the war has been enlightening, humorous and educational.

“They are a special breed of people that I doubt we will ever see again and I hope the portraits do them justice.”

Mr Crooks poses for a photo – Image by Wattie Cheung/Poppyscotland

Dr Claire Armstrong, the CEO at Legion Scotland, added: “These images are nothing short of breathtaking – and are only matched by the stories of bravery that go alongside them.

“They will serve as a poignant reminder to the generations that follow, and we are grateful to have such a wonderful resource.

“As the custodians of Remembrance in Scotland, our involvement in VE Day so important. They allow our communities to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, or who returned from battles in foreign lands with life-changing injuries.

“We will remember them and, even during this unprecedented pandemic, our enduring message of comradeship comes very much to the fore.”

 
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