THE family of a Glasgow man who was the first British soldier to land on Guernsey soil after the liberation of the island will honour his memory this weekend.

Glasgow Times:

The three children and four grandchildren of Sargent-Major Robert Shaw, who was born in Springburn in September, 1915, were due to attend the VE Day anniversary celebrations in 2020, but the event was cancelled because of Covid.

They are attending this year instead, and they are hoping to reunite with the family of a little boy Robert met in 1945.

Sargent-Major Shaw of the REME unit was part of Task Force 135, the British Military Contingent that liberated the island from German occupation, as part of Operation Nestegg.

Glasgow Times:

He was on the first ship that came into L’Ancresse Bay to liberate the island in 1945 and he was the first to disembark, riding off on the landing craft on a motorcycle followed by a number of armoured vehicles.

Glasgow Times: Robert ShawRobert Shaw

Robert “met no opposition whatsoever except for the mobbing of the soldiers by the hilariously enthusiastic population”, he told his family in later years.

The first person he met was a local boy called John Rault who was cycling on the right hand side of the road. Robert stopped the little boy and told him to “cycle on the British side of the road which was the left hand side” as he was worried the little boy would be knocked over by the other vehicles behind him.

Forty seven years later in 1992, Robert visited Guernsey from Scotland again to receive commemorative Liberation medallions with a number of other war veterans.

After the local newspaper printed his story, John Rault read about the event in the local paper and contacted Robert at the hotel he was staying in. The two met up, reconnected and stayed in touch until Robert died in 2005, aged 89.

While Robert’s REME were in Guernsey they used a local garage called ‘Ash’s Garage’ for the repair of vehicles.

He was a trained motor mechanic and told a local newspaper in 1992: “The British officers were anxious to get use of German cars while stationed on the island.”

Robert’s son, retired Motor Retail Group Director Martin Shaw said: “My dad was interested to see how vehicles had been converted to charcoal burning units to overcome the shortage of petrol. During his post-war stay, he worked with German troops who were needed to help in the garage. He also visited the islands of Jersey and Sark and he also met the Dame of Sark at the time.”

Robert went on to marry an English wartime nurse called Esme Collinson and the family stayed in Glasgow.

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Martin added: “My father was so proud of being part of such a historic moment in liberating the island of Guernsey after the war.

“He talked about this moment throughout his whole life and he was thrilled to be invited back in 1992 to receive an official commemorative medallion with 170 surviving veterans of Task Force 135. The fact he managed to reconnect with the very little boy he stopped all those years ago was just magical for him. Visiting Guernsey as a family in his memory this year will be such a special moment for us to be together and remember all those that fought with him in the war.”