Scotland’s oldest veteran dies aged 107

UK News | Published:

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those paying tribute to the former ‘Desert Rat’.

Jimmy Sinclair with carer Archie Howie and the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland

Scotland’s oldest veteran has died at the age of 107.

Jimmy Sinclair fought against General Erwin Rommel in the north African desert as a gunner.

He received several medals for his service during the Second World War, later serving for two years with the Allied Control Commission in Berlin before returning to Scotland to work as a slater.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those to pay tribute to the veteran.

She said: “So sad to hear this news. Jimmy was one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting – I was proud to call him a friend.”

In a joint statement, Mark Bibbey of Poppyscotland and Dr Claire Armstrong, of Legion Scotland, said: “We are blessed that so many were able to hear Jimmy’s incredible story over the years and it was no surprise that he received numerous commendations for his service during the Second World War and, following that, with the Allied Control Commission in Berlin.

“His was one of the most important voices that were heard as the country celebrated VE Day just a few short weeks ago.


“We wish to send our sincere condolences to Jimmy’s family at this time, along with his legion of friends and followers.

“There is no better way to sum up this wonderful man than highlighting that he refused to wear his medals out of solidarity for those he served with that were lost.

Jimmy Sinclair
Jimmy Sinclair, who was Britain’s oldest surviving Desert Rat (Wattie Cheung/Poppyscotland/PA)

“We know Jimmy was partial to a nip of Johnnie Walker Whisky from time to time – indeed, he often stated that it was the secret to his long life. We are sure that many of us across the country and beyond will be raising a glass to this incredible man.”


Mr Sinclair was born in 1912 and brought up in Giffordown, near Ladybank, in Fife.

During the Second World War he served with the Chestnut Troop, 1st Regiment Horse Artillery, of the 7th Armoured Division.

After the war he moved back to Germany in 1981 following the death of his wife and became a friend of Field Marshal Rommel’s son, Manfred.

He returned to Kirkcaldy at the age of 92.

He was friends with the Duchess of Cornwall, known as the Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, who sent him birthday cards and letters and whose father was also a Desert Rat.

Once reflecting on the war, Mr Sinclair 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.”

He said the secret to a long life was Johnnie Walker Whisky.

He added: “You need to have a sense of humour and I like to keep upbeat. I just take it a day at a time.”

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