The oldest surviving Gordon Highlander celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday – more than 70 years after he thought he was going to die in the trenches.
Arthur Robertson once told his son that during the Battle of El Alamein, he did not think he would see another birthday.
But yesterday, the soldier – who was injured three times during his tours of North Africa and Sicily – was surrounded by family at Balhousie Alastrean Care Home in Tarland to toast his centenary.
Son Gordon said: “He was a desert rat and was blown up three times. There was one night during the Battle of El Alamein which he told me was absolutely terrifying. They had dug their trenches two or three feet, but wished they were much deeper. He told me he didn’t think he would see his next birthday.
“We’re so very proud and happy that he did, and that we’re all here today to celebrate.”
Mr Robertson was born in Aberdeen, and spent his childhood in the city’s Holland Street.
After leaving school he working in various places, including a butchers and a slaughter house, before landing a job with Aberdeen Journals as a delivery driver. He later enlisted with the Gordon Highlanders.
He met wife-to-be Betty at a dance hall at the age of 16, and the couple tied the knot in 1939.
However, any plans for a romantic wedding night were shelved as Mr Robertson was called upon to guard Bridge of Don from any potential German invasion.
Mr Robertson’s niece, Maureen Dean, said: “They got married at home in their house because that night he went off to war.
“He was guarding the Bridge of Don in case Hitler arrived – that was how he spent his wedding night, guarding Aberdeen from Hitler.”
After the war, Mr Robertson returned to the north-east and resumed his duties at Aberdeen Journals, and spent 17 years driving papers from Aberdeen to Inverness.
In 1963 he was promoted to garage overseer, and eventually became transport manager before retiring after 41 years of service.
Away from work, the sociable great-grandfather enjoyed dancing, golf, indoor bowling, going to the social club or on holiday with his wife.
Mrs Robertson died 11 years ago, after a long battle with dementia. During her 10 years in hospital, her husband would visit everyday to make sure she had tea and to give her ice cream.
Mr Robertson jun, who also has a sister, Carol, said: “He misses my mother terribly because they were so close.
“But he always seems to bounce back and keep going, he often tells me ‘it’s been quite a life.’”