HUNDREDS of thousands of commuters and day-trippers must have passed by the Christmas Truce Bench since it was installed in Central Station on VE Day two years ago.

Most will probably be familiar with the story it represents – a famous tale from an infamous war, when German and British soldiers laid down their weapons for a fleeting, festive celebration and a game of football in No Man’s Land.

However, they may not realise the remarkable story behind the man who officially "unveiled" the bench, and who returned recently to install a special plaque on the site.

Glasgow Times: Jimmy Docherty on the 1914 Christmas Truce Bench in Central Station, Glasgow

Royal Navy veteran and retired railway worker Jimmy Docherty, who is now 98, sailed in the Arctic convoys and played a role in the D-Day landings.

Brought up in the Gorbals, he lost three uncles on his mother's side – John, 32, David, 25, and Joseph, 23 - in the First World War. The young men all died within the space of five months in 1917.

Jimmy assumed he would follow his dad George and brother David into the army (David was a sergeant major who served in North Africa and Italy and also returned home safely, while George had served all through the First World War and re-enlisted as a training sergeant just before the Second World War) but when he went along to enlist at the age of 18, he was sent for a medical at HMS Ganges.

In a recent interview with our sister newspaper The Herald, Jimmy said: “I knew that didn’t sound like an army barracks. It turned out to be a training ship in Ipswich. I couldn’t even swim so I thought they might change their mind, but it didn’t put them off.”

Glasgow Times: Jimmy Docherty

After a few weeks of training, Jimmy was sent to Portsmouth to join destroyer HMS Obedient. For the next three years, he played his part in the Arctic convoys that carried food and military equipment across treacherous seas to support the eastern front.

“After a while I got used to life on board and liked sleeping in a hammock,” Jimmy said. “We had to take turns making the meals for the mess and everything came out of a tin. We would travel in darkness and I think it was a case of expect the worst and hope for the best.”

As part of the D-Day landings in 1944, Jimmy’s ship set sale for Normandy to help transport troops to Gold Beach.

When news filtered through in 1945 that war was over, Jimmy heard Sir Winston Churchill’s voice on the radio, saying war would end at midnight. “We got an extra tot of rum and then it was back to work,” he recalled.

After leaving the Royal Navy, Jimmy worked on the railways as an "ultra-sonic rail flaw detector technician” alongside his uncle John.

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Jimmy’s nephew, John explains: “As part of a small squad, Jimmy and my dad would walk the railway lines, mainly in the Central Belt and west coast down to the border and sometimes beyond, pushing a trolley carrying an ultra-sonic machine to detect any cracks or holes on the track.

“They must have covered every mile of track in that huge area, doing vital safety work. They loved it, especially in the better weather. It wasn't the back-breaking pick and shovel work that so much of the railway was.”

The family did not realise until fairly recently that Jimmy had been involved in the D-Day landings, says John.

“We knew he had served in the Arctic convoys but we knew nothing about D-Day until he was invited to take part in the 75th anniversary commemorations,” he adds. “Like so many, he did not talk about it.

“He did say that he wondered what his mother thought, having lost three brothers, when her two sons were taken off to war.”

Glasgow Times: Station staff and veterans' associations representatives joined Jimmy Docherty at the event

Recently Jimmy helped his sister Jean celebrate her 103rd birthday.

“He is such a character,” says John. “I recently got involved in compiling the family genealogy but when I turned to Jimmy for help he said he couldn't remember much and I got a bit exasperated.

“He turned to me and said ‘John, I don't bother about the past. I just look forward’. Not bad for someone of 98. I think that sums up his attitude to life.”