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Publishing • Production • Communications
  • Writer's pictureMark McGiven - The Daily Record

Farewell to hero who saw Rudolf Hess crash, was almost killed by bomb and survived three years in PO

A SCOT who survived more than three years in POW camps where he narrowly missed being killed by a bomb and was wrongly declared dead twice, has died at the age of 99.

War hero Charlie McLachlan's rich life story amazed his family, who have recorded 200 hours of video interviews detailing his incredible exploits.

The former Daily Record printer died yesterday morning at his home in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, where he had settled in the 1960s.

His grandson Grant McLachlan told how Charlie's wife believed for three years that he had died in a POW camp in Timor, how he drove a sidecar through Clydebank during the Blitz and how Charlie claimed he witnessed Rudolf Hess crashing his plane on Eaglesham Moor during the war.

Grant, 34, said Charlie's stories never ceased to amaze him.

He added: "My grandfather was a truly extraordinary man.

"He was wrongly pronounced dead twice. Once after a cable car accident in Japan when he suffered a double skull fracture and a badly fractured fibia.

"The wound in his leg became gangrenous and he would have undergone an amputation if they had had the right cutting apparatus.

"They treated it with some medicine that should have had little effect but it did the trick. Another time he was pronounced dead after a bout of cerebral malaria. The doctor injected him with another treatment and he came right round again."

Charlie, who died in a care home after suffering heart problems, was born in Glasgow. He worked for the Record, composing our front page headlines, from 1928 until being conscripted in 1941.

On March 13, 1941, Charlie turned up for work expecting to put together another front page. By the end of the night he had driven a photographer in a sidecar through the gauntlet of German bombers blitzing Clydebank.

Trained as a crack anti-aircraft gunner, Charlie was a member of the famous Sparrow Force who ferociously defended Timor in 1942 days after Singapore fell.

Charlie spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war on Timor, Java, Singapore and Japan and saw many of his friends die.

The Enola Gay used his camp as target practice before Hiroshima was flattened. One of the dummy bombs hit the camp, sending a huge chunk of metal through the roof of the room he was working in, but Charlie survived.

Grant added: "My grandmother never knew the horrors her husband endured until shortly before their 69th wedding anniversary.

"Charlie was missing presumed killed for three years but she never lost faith that he would return.

"He has had his share of miracles, that's for sure."

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