Jennifer Murray and Papa Robert Sawers at Faslane with Cdr John Humphreys.

By Gavin Carr

A Second World War naval veteran from Bearsden visited the largest military site in Scotland recently when he was welcomed to HM Naval Base Clyde.

One-hundred-year-old Robert Sawers visited the base on Monday as the guest of Clyde’s Duty Naval Base Officer.

Accompanied by granddaughter Jennifer Murray, Robert was given a tour of the establishment and the opportunity to visit Sandown-class minehunters HMS Bangor and HMS Ramsey.

“It was an honour and a privilege to show Robert the Naval Base,” said Commander John Humpheys, Duty Naval Base Officer.

“A friend told me about Robert and how he served with the Royal Navy during the Second World War.  He celebrated his centenary on December 5 and we thought it would be a great present to give him a tour of the base and get him back on board a ship.”

Serving with the Royal Navy from 1940 to 1946, Robert spent time with Fleet Repair Ship HMS Resource, which was stationed in both the Mediterranean and with the Eastern Fleet.  As an Ordnance Artificer he was responsible for inspecting, testing, storing and preparing a variety of guns, shells, mines and bombs.  During his service he worked on HMS Greyhound, HMS Bonaventure and HMS Barham, serving in bases in Alexandria, Algiers and Bejaia.

After leaving the navy in 1946, Robert worked briefly at Meechans in Scotstoun where he had served as an apprentice fitter before the War.  He later moved to Thermotank in Govan where he was an Engineer specialist in air conditioning and cooling, working on many of the ships being constructed at the Clyde shipyards.  He continued to work there until his retirement.

Robert’s granddaughter, Jennifer, is no stranger to HM Naval Base Clyde herself.  A police constable with the Ministry of Defence Police’s Clyde Marine Unit, she’s often to be found patrolling the waters of the Gareloch.

“It is difficult to find a birthday present for someone turning 100 so I wanted to do something no-one else could do for my Papa,” said Jennifer.  “Thanks to help from the Royal Navy we have managed to give him a special day to remember.”

She continued: “His experience of being a sailor in the Second World War was very different from these days, but he still shares that connection with the Royal Navy of today.  I am immensely proud of him.”

Showing Robert around the minehunters was Lieutenant Commander David Bailey from the Faslane-based First Mine Counter Measures Squadron (MCM1).  The Squadron operates seven Sandown-class minehunters from the Clyde, with, at any one time, two of them maintaining a permanent presence in the Arabian Gulf.

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