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Navy senior rate Callum helps D-Day veteran celebrate 102nd birthday

22 July 2022
Petty Officer Callum McCrindle helped a Scottish-based D-Day veteran celebrate his 102nd birthday.

It was thanks to Harry Gamper and his contemporaries that the Germans were largely held at bay in the summer of 1944, kept away from the vast armada which landed hundreds of thousands of troops in Nazi-occupied France – paving the way for liberation.

On D-Day Harry spent three hours on patrol over the Seine Bay and Cherbourg area keeping a lookout for German submarines and E-boats which might sortie to interfere with the invasion fleet massed off the Normandy beaches.

An enormous ring of steel was thrown around the Operation Neptune force, beneath, on and above the waves.

Harry piloted a twin-engine Vickers Warwick anti-submarine, reconnaissance and search and rescue aircraft with four or five aircrew from 276 Squadron.

He flew seven sorties in June 1944 alone in support of Operation Neptune, and continued to support the advance into France and Western Europe once allied forces broke out of their Normandy beachhead.

Callum, who serves at HM Naval Base Clyde, was joined by his wife Shelby and Ritchie Conaghan from Girvan and District Great War Project at Harry’s care home, delivering cards and gifts and spending quality time with a remarkable character.

“My time in the RAF left me with lasting memories, memories which shaped my life and ones that I am incredibly proud of,” Harry said.

Harry truly is an amazing man – there really are not many left of his era and standing.

Petty Officer Callum McCrindle

The former pilot joined the RAF in 1941 aged 21 and spent five years in the air force before returning to civvy street in 1946 becoming a technical illustrator for specialist and industry publications.

Today he enjoys a quiet retirement at Malin Court care home in Maidens, south of Ayr, where he soaks up the fresh coastal air, enjoys the view and the finer things in life: music, the arts, good food and a glass of wine… “all in moderation”.

And he likes to tell both care home staff and visitors of his family connections: his Swiss uncle Hans Max Gamper-Haessig helped found two European football clubs: FC Zürich and then the legendary FC Barcelona in 1899 after placing an ad in the local paper.

Callum is a friend of the D-Day veteran through his wife Shelby, who was an activities coordinator at Harry’s care home, and presented him with a rare Victory Coin on behalf of Legion Scotland, Poppy Scotland and the Scottish Government last year.

The coin commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Just 250 were produced to honour veterans for their heroic contribution to victory and shaping the post-war world.

“Harry truly is an amazing man – there really are not many left of his era and standing,” said Callum.

“We have also applied for a Legion d’Honneur on his behalf from the French Government - this is currently being pushed by Legion Scotland and Veterans department at Scottish Government.”

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