ARMED FORCES charities have come together to celebrate Scottish Veterans through an online exhibition of specially commissioned photographs.

Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland commissioned a series of portraits of WW2 veterans as part of the national celebration.

The exhibition helps to tell the stories of 15 incredible Second World War veterans, and include images from their wartime service together with a new photographs taken over the last two years by Glasgow photographer Wattie Cheung.

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Wattie Cheung, 52, said: “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.”

One veteran featured is Sergeant William 'Bill' Glen, 98, from Dennistoun.

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Bill said: “I landed in Normandy two days after D-Day. But I was wounded and was stretchered home. My most vivid memory was when I was wounded. A mortar bomb landed behind us and damaged my feet. One of my pals was killed. My boots were ripped right open and I had to crawl away. It was a traumatic experience. I will never, ever forget it.”

Bill joined up on the 4th of January 1942 and was eventually demobbed in October 1946. He recalls VE Day clearly: “I remember VE Day. I was stationed in Ayr at the time and I was an NCO at a drafting camp. I was in charge of a hut.

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"In early hours of the morning, a whole lot of ATS girls broke into our camp singing and dancing. All the noise woke me up and one of the soldiers said to me: ‘It’s all right, Corporal, the War is finished!’ I said: ‘The War may be finished, but this is still a camp, so get those lights out!’ But the next day felt like any other normal day as we just got on with it.

Bill, who worked as a plumber after the War, added: “I’ve had a good life and I now live in sheltered housing. We’re not allowed out of our flats, but, at 11am on VE Day, I will go to the door and stand there for the two-minute silence. I will never forget the pals that I lost; I will never forget them.”

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Rather than the planned physical exhibition, portraits and stories are being provided to media outlets and shared online as part of the revised programme of “virtual” VE Day activities.

The Second World War veterans were photographed on a Graflex Super D large format film camera made in the USA in the 1940s – and all have their own personal story to tell about that history day on May 8th, 1945.

Dr Claire Armstrong, the CEO at Legion Scotland, said: “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.

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“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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“And what better way to pay tribute to those still with us through this stunning collection of poignant images. I believe it is important for people to know that even in lockdown we are able to create an alternative way to mark this special occasion and to pay our respects as we bring people together virtually."

More than 15 veterans have been captured, both male and female and across the services. All have an important story to tell. Among them, is the oldest-living Desert Rat, Jimmy Sinclair, who is 107 years old. 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. On this wartime experiences, he says: “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.”