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Former Forres Academy depute rector Hugh Robertson dies aged 99

Hugh Robertson.
Hugh Robertson.

Hugh Robertson, who has died aged 99, must have taught nearly 7,000 school pupils at Forres Academy.

While on active service in Italy during the war, he had flown over Vesuvius as it erupted in 1944 during a reconnaissance flight over the Bay of Naples searching for U-boats in a Lancaster bomber.

He began teaching at Forres Academy in 1951, eventually in 1985, rising to become depute rector and, for the last year of his career, acting rector.


Mr Robertson taught history and his passion for the subject brought classes to life for pupils.

His lessons were neither dusty not crusty. He had the ability to inject them with his own enthusiasm for history to captivate his students and imbued many to hold a lasting interest in the subject.

Hugh Robertson was born in 1921 to Alice and Hugh Robertson who farmed at Balnageith, Forres. His mother had been a teacher before her marriage.


He was educated at primary school in Forres and at Forres Academy.

His final year at school was in 1939 and at the outbreak of war, sixth-year pupils were given a two-year grace to allow them to go to university before signing up for military service.

At the end of 1940, he joined up at Dr Black Memorial Hall in Inverness, choosing to join the RAF as he had always been interested in flying.

Balnageith had become an airfield so he occupied his time before he was called up by helping to lay out the temporary airfield.

Call up

In 1941 a telegram arrived at Balnageith, summoning him to Lord’s Cricket ground, London, where he had a medical inspection.

In September he boarded the SS Highland Princess and sailed to Halifax, then to Toronto and on to the United States to begin pilot training. While the training went well, he was assigned to become a navigator.

Finally, he returned to the UK on the troopship Cameronia in a convoy and arrived in the Clyde.


Eventually he crewed up and flew Blenheims with a New Zealander as his pilot. A great deal of flying training had to take place in order to be able to fly down to North Africa.

As the Allies pushed north, he and his crew were posted to Sicily to protect vital convoys.

Towards the end of the war, and for a period until 1946, Hugh was posted to Defford where he was involved in flying experimental missions to test newly developing RADAR systems, this time flying in Lancasters.


He met with future wife, Wynne, a wartime RAF ambulance driver on a blind date in a pub in Bicester and the couple were married in Hemel Hempstead in 1945. They remained very happily married for almost sixty years.

In 1946, after demobilisation, Hugh enrolled at Aberdeen University and graduated MA in English and History .

Between 1950 and 1951 he attended teacher training college in Aberdeen and in summer 1951 took a temporary post at Cawdor junior secondary school.

Forres Academy

Hugh then moved to Forres Academy and was promoted to assistant principal teacher of the history department in 1956.

Between 1969 and 1973 he was head of department and then was promoted to assistant depute rector.

In 1977 Hugh became depute rector until his retiral in 1985. He was acting rector for his final year while the rector was on secondment.


Hugh’s daughters Aileen Davidson and Alison Mitchell also became teachers and both said that history was always his great passion. He had a particular interest in the First World War. For his 80th birthday, his family arranged for him to go on a battlefield tour to Belgium.

In retirement he loved reading, birdwatching, watching older films and walking his springer spaniel dog. He enjoyed tackling many DIY jobs around the house.

In the last few years of his life he developed macular degeneration but he was able to listen to the radio, while friends and family provided him with audio books and classical music recordings.

The family’s announcement can be read here.