Crawford “Tam” Wishart (1923 – 2009)

Tree: WIS0013

I was born at 14 Keir Street in Pollokshields, Glasgow, Scotland 
on August 30, 1923. My entry into this world was preceded by my 
sister, Muriel and followed by my sisters, Sheila and Jean.

By today’s standards, the conditions in which we spent our 
childhood were nothing short of primitive. We had no TV, no radio, no 
VCRs, no Nintendo, no ice hockey or baseball, no telephone and a whole 
bunch of other nos. Motor cars were a rarity at that time in Glasgow 
and we either walked everywhere or took a tram (streetcar). There 
were many other children around, we made our own fun and we had plenty 
of it. As I recall, we were seldom without a ball in or hands or at 
our feet. We had measles, whooping cough, chicken pox, diphtheria, 
scarlet fever’ ‘and a whole lot of other little ailments. But, we were 
tough and we survived.

Our parents did not have a lot of money, but we were loved, well 
fed and clothed.

At the tender age of 5, I started school at Albert Road Academy 
in Pollokshields. Schools were different in those days. The, school 
day ran from 8:50 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. five days __ a week. The schools 
were closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and we had six weeks 
off, in the summer. We were taught very basic subjects such as 
English, French, History, Geography, Science, Arithmetic, Geometry and 
Trigonometry. We learned all this without the aid of calculators or 
computers and we received an excellent education.

At the age of 10 or so, we left Pollokshields and moved south to 
Williamwood, which was out of Glasgow and in Renfrewshire. Here I 
attended school in Giffnock, which was quite a distance from our 
house. (No school buses in those days.) Probably three or four years 
later we moved again to Newton Mearns, further south but still in 
Renfrewshire. From there I went to Eastwood Secondary School which 
was even further from home than the school in Giffnock. I travelled 
to this school partly by bus, and partly by bicycle. Dad had bought a 
real old clunker which was stored in a garage about two miles from the 
school. I know you kids have heard all this before, but I rode that 
old bike in all kinds of weather for years. To the best of my 
knowledge, my parents never set foot in any of the schools I attended 
and I most certainly did not suffer from their absence. Discipline in Scottish schools were severe and the strap was used vigorously for all 
infractions. I finished school in 1939 at the age of 16.

At the same time, in my youth, I was a Cub and then a Scout in 
the 28th Giffnock (Glasgow) Troop. After Scouts, I joined the Air 
Cadets and attained the rank of Flight Sergeant. It was while I was 
an Air Cadet that I took my first flight. It was in a Tiger Moth 
biplane and we flew at the terrific speed of 70 MPH. I did not tell 
my Mother about this until it was all over and, even then, she was 
most upset. As a result of that first flight, I developed a love of 
flying which, in one form or another, was to influence my life for the 
next few years.

As I said, I finished school in June 1939. I was 16 years of age 
the following August and the Second World War started on September 3, 
1939. At 16, I was too young to join up and I went to work in Glasgow 
for the next two years. First, I was an “odd jobs” boy in a large 
grocery store. I cut meats, swept floors and the sidewalk in front of 
the store. After a while, I wanted to do something else and I joined 
a firm of chartered accountants as an office boy. I used to run 
errands, handle the mail and, again, did all- kinds o£ odd jobs. 
Eventually, I became a very junior audit clerk and my job was to add 
up columns of figures in the books and ledgers of companies we were 
auditing. To train for this job, I had to add up the numbers in pages 
and pages of the Glasgow telephone directory. We still had no 
calculators in these days and I became very good at adding up numbers. 
Soon, I tired of this and I left to join the Scottish Petroleum Board 
where I stayed until March 1942.

I should say, at this point, that my recollections of my life from 
here on are much clearer and more vivid than those of my youth.

Going back to my love of flying, I wanted to join the RAF as a 
rear gunner. At that time, and certainly during the rest of the war, 
rear gunners were being killed off in rather large numbers. I 
mentioned this to my Mother and she, to say the least, was most 
unhappy. So, I volunteered in early 1942 for the Scots Guards and 
they told me to come back when I was 18-1/2. I passed the medical, 
just scraped by the height requirement of 5’10-1/2″ and went to the 
Guards on April 15, 1942.

The Scots Guards were founded in 1642 and form part of what is 
called the HOUSEHOLD BRIGADE. The Brigade consists of the Scots 
Guards (THE JOCKS), the Grenadier Guards (THE BILL BROWNS), the 
Coldstream Guards (THE LILY WHITES), the Irish Guards (THE MICKS), and 
the Welsh Guards (THE TAFFYS). The Brigade of Guards is primarily 
responsible for guarding the Monarch and stands guard at Buckingham 
Palace and other Royal residences. All of the Guards have magnificent 
battle records that span over 300 years. The Guards are the elite of 
the British Army and their discipline and training are extremely 

I served with the Guards for three months in Caterham in Surrey 
and a further three months in Pirbright, also in Surrey. For the 
first three months in Caterham we were not allowed out of camp because 
”we were not fit for the British public to look upon”. At the end of 
the six months, I was selected for Officer training and went to 
Barmouth in North Wales to an Officer Cadet Training Unit. At the end 
of the training, I was commissioned into the Royal Scots Fusiliers as 
a Second Lieutenant. I was 19.

I was then posted to an RSF battalion stationed in England and 
trained with them until May of 1943, at which time I was notified of 
an overseas posting and given embarkation leave. When I arrived home, 
I found that Mother was bedridden with a very severe case of pleurisy 
and the Doctor advised Dad not to tell her of my posting in case it 
further damaged Mother’s health. As I remember, I was home for about 
two weeks when I was recalled to the Battalion. Due to a mix-up, 
instead of going to the Eighth Army in the Middle East, I was to go to 
the Far East. This was not good news. The overseas draft (draft 
being the number of troops involved) went to Liverpool where we 
boarded a troopship called R.M.S. Rangytata (R.M.S. Royal Mail 
Steamer). This was a New Zealand passenger ship now serving as a 
troopship. From Liverpool, we sailed to the River Clyde in Scotland 
and we anchored off Greenock while a convoy formed.

I found out later that my family was, at that time, in Arran in 
the River Clyde where my mother was recuperating. This Isle of Arran 
is a blessed place very dear to my family and where we had spent many 
happy holidays. As we sailed for India, my last glimpse of Scotland 
was Arran.

It was intended that our convoy was to have sailed through the 
Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, but apparently there were U-Boats 
waiting for it and, instead, we sailed down the West Coast of Africa 
to Durban in South Africa. We were on board for six weeks from the 
Clyde to Durban and it was on the troopship that I met my first 
Canadians. They were R.C.A.F. fighter pilots who had volunteered for 
hazardous duty in the Far East. These guys were great and so 
different from the British Army behavioural norm. The young officers 
on board, like myself, gravitated to the Canadians and we had a long 
and happy voyage. (More on the Canadians later … )

We spent a glorious three weeks in Durban. The people of that 
city were so hospitable and they could not do enough for us. There 
was even a lady who stood out on a piece of land in Durban harbour and 
sang to every troopship that went in and out. After living in wartime 
U.K. the food was fantastic and we certainly took advantage of it.

We then sailed for India, arrived in Bombay and had our first 
taste of the sights, sounds and smells of the subcontinent. This was 
to be our “home” for the duration of the war. From Bombay, we went to 
a large transit camp south of Bombay. The transit camp at Deolali was 
established to look after all the troops arriving in India and to ship 
them out to various units. We lived in tents complete with scorpions, 
ate very poor food and wished we were in several different places. I 
had an Indian servant (bearer) who was 11 years of age and already 
betrothed in marriage. Deolali was not a very nice place.

While we were there, a senior officer came to the camp looking 
for volunteers for a Special Force in Burma. It was a long-range 
penetration group (LRPG) named the Chindits and it would operate 200 
miles or so inside the Japanese lines. Tim Riley, a fellow officer 
from Rhodesia and I volunteered. I was turned down because I was too 
young. They said that this type of operation demanded more mature men 
who could handle the stresses of fighting inside the enemy’s lines. 
As it turned out, they did not get enough volunteers and I was later 
accepted. From the transit camp, Tim and I went to a jungle camp near 
Jhansi in Central India and joined the 1st Battalion of the King’s 
Liverpool Regiment. (Also known as the SCOUSE – the name of a famous 
stew made in Liverpool.) Joining an English Regiment was a terrible comedown for a 20 year old from Glasgow who was very proud to wear the 
”Tam O’Shanter” of the regiment into which he had been commissioned. 
My refusal to change to the hat of the English Regiment gave me the 
name “Tam” which I have been proud to use ever since. I almost got 
court marshalled over this.

For months we trained in the jungles around Jhansi marching many 
hundreds of miles with 60 lb. packs and engaging in army exercises 
designed to get us ready for Burma. The army provided tea, bread, 
beans, bacon, cigarettes, tobacco and other miscellaneous items. We 
shot deer and wild peacock for meat. It was here that the Canadians 
from R.M.S. Rangytata turned up. I should explain here that the 
Chindit Battalions were split into two columns with about 400 men in 
each – column. The Colonel commanded one column and the second in 
command the other. We were columns 81 and 82. One Canadian was 
assigned to each column and their job was to co-ordinate, by radio, air 
support and air supply. (All our supplies were parachuted to us when 
the weather was suitable – otherwise we starved.) I must say that our 
Canadian, Dave Bockus, was not too happy about this. He was a fighter 
pilot and he stated, most firmly, that he was-not one who marched 
behind the “ass end” of a mule. Dave’s story is not part of this 
narrative except to say that he did come into Burma and was later 
flown out by light plane. Dave now lives in Scarborough, Ontario.

Perhaps I should explain the role of the Chindits. A column, as 
I said, consisted of half a battalion. We had mules and ponies to 
carry our 3″ mortars and Vickers machine guns and we carried 
everything else on our backs. We were to be placed in Burma by plane 
or glider and were to establish what were called “strongholds”, that_ 
is fortified bases out of which the columns would operate. Our job 
was to cut roads, railways; etc. to prevent supplies reaching the 
Japanese front. We were also to attack any Japanese concentrations in 
a hit-and-run type of operation. We were not equipped for major 
battles, having no real armament. As it turned out, the major part of 
our fighting was in strongholds such as “Broadway”, “White City” and 

When our training was completed, we 
Jhansi to a small village in Assam called 
hot, weary journey of about three weeks on Railway. We played poker all the way with company bullion – Dave 
Bockus, Tim Riley and myself. At Lalligat, we found a large American 
air base, which was the home of No. 1 U.S. Air Commando.

To digress for a moment … At that time I was 20 years of age, a 
2nd Lieutenant and in command of a platoon of 36 men. At this point I 
saw war as a glorious adventure and I was going to acquit myself so 
well that I would be covered in glory. Shortly after landing in Burma 
a Japanese shot at me and my dreams of glory vanished forever. For the 
sake of you young people, war is not a glorious adventure. Ours was 
blood and death, sweat and overpowering humid heat, mud and leeches, K 
rations or no food at all, dense jungle and, of course, the Japanese. 
Malaria, dysentery, and jungle sores that would not heal were all part 
of the misery. On the plus side, we had comradeship with other men in 
the same situation and that was a wonderful, protective feeling. We 
looked out for each other.

To get back to the story … My platoon was detailed to go to the 
U.S. base and do guard duty for the Americans. Still dreaming of 
glory at that point, I was chagrined at the thought. However, I had 
sealed orders for the U.S. Base Commander and-it turned out that my 
platoon had a job to do. We were to devise drills for loading and 
unloading men and animals into and out of gliders that were spread out 
all over the field. When I say field, that is exactly what it was. 
The Americans had taken a large clearing in the jungle and had 
levelled it out with bulldozers.

To help me out with the drills, I was given two U.S. glider 
pilots. One was a lieutenant and the other a sergeant. The sergeant 
was Jackie Coogan, a Hollywood film star, who at one time had been 
married to Betty Grable, the American’s favourite “pin-up” girl.

An amusing story of our stay with the Yanks was that when I 
suggested something, they would jump to attention, salute and say 
”Yes, Sir”. They meant it. When one of their own officers said 
something, the usual response was “Yeah, okay bub”.

My platoon loved the air base. They slept in beds with sheets 
and pillows and the food, including ice cream, was fabulous. Nothing 
British Army about this place.
All good things must come to an end. The Battalion came to the 
field and we rehearsed the drills and listened to Tokyo Rose on the 
radio. She knew who we were, where we were and she knew we were going into Burma in gliders and she assured us that 
the Japanese would be waiting for us. Whoopee!

Well, in March 1944 we did go in. Our Brigadier and his staff 
were in the first glider, our Colonel and his group in the second and 
my platoon in the third. Our gliders were U.S. Waco gliders made of 
tubing covered with fabric. DC3s (Dakota) planes towed us 
with two gliders towed by each plane. Our destination was a clearing 
in the jungle, code-named “Broadway”. It was close to 200 miles 
inside the Japanese lines. Upon landing, our glider lost wings, the 
tail section and the landing skids. No injuries. The Japanese were not 
waiting for us. For the next few days we cleared the field of wrecked 
gliders, buried our dead and built a stronghold in the jungle around 
Broadway. The Yanks brought in bulldozers and levelled the field and 
thousands of men, animals, etc. together with tons of ammunition, food 
and other supplies were brought in by plane.

I will not bore you with details of our campaign. Should anyone 
reading this be sufficiently interested, I have books on the subject 
which may be borrowed.

We went in March 1944 and came out in August 1944. I went in at 160 lbs and came out at 136 lbs and that was about the norm. I had a very severe case of malaria and was strapped to a pony for 10 days while 
being injected with quinine. Like the rest of the Chindits, we were 
starving, covered with jungle sores, not at all well and with very 
poor stomachs. BUT I CAME OUT. Many did not and their bones lie in 
the stinking Burmese jungle in a country that means nothing to Britain 

I must make mention of a soldier without whom I would not be 
writing this story today. Indeed, you young people may not be here 
either except for the GURKHA. The Gurkha is, without a doubt, the 
finest fighting soldier in the world. He comes from Nepal, a country 
on the northern border of India and has served in the British Army for 
centuries. He is intensely loyal and, on more than one occasion, 
refused to leave a position my platoon was in and under heavy attack 
until I pulled out my men. Their officers were British and one of 
them would come to me and say, “It’s no use, Tam, my Gurkhas will not 
leave until you do.” Bless these happy, smiling, bald-headed little 
men for their boundless courage and devotion.

When we came out of Burma we again returned to Assam. We had 
been in for over five months and not once had most of us had our 
uniforms off. We were filthy, stinky, tired and hungry and, for once, 
the British Army looked after us. Endless showers, new uniforms and 
boots, good food that we had trouble keeping down and medical 
treatment for jungle sores and foot rot.

Assam is tea growing country and the tea planters (English) came 
to our camp and took the officers away to live with them for a few 
weeks. Tim Riley and I went with a Doctor and his wife, who were also 
planters, and stayed with them for two weeks. By then, the Chindits 
were famous in the Far East and in Britain. The Doctor had a 
beautiful home and, since we had so many health problems, he wanted to 
keep us for study and treatment, but that could not be.

Back to the Battalion and back to India. This time to Dehra Dun 
in northern India to rest and recuperate. Many were in hospital and 
some were still dying. Tim and I took leave and went to Naini Tal, a 
small “hill station” 7000 feet up in the Himalayas. Naina Tal is 
built on the side of the mountains around a small glacier fed lake. 
There we stayed for a month, wearing shorts and sandals by day and 
full uniforms and greatcoats at night. Hot and cold, but healthy. 
There we slept, ate, rode ponies, went for long walks, boated on the 
lake and got our health back.

Back to the Battalion at Dehra Dun. By this time, fighting in 
Burma had reached open country north of Mandalay and the Chindits were 
no longer needed. We were jungle troops. We were to be broken up and 
sent to other units.

In India, at this time, there were no parachute troops and word 
came that the Army was looking for volunteers to create a Parachute 
Brigade, i.e. 3 Battalions; one British, one Gurkha and one Indian. I 
volunteered and went to parachute school in Rawalpindi in northwest 
India (now Pakistan) for training. After some weeks of very strenuous 
exercise, we completed seven jumps and put up our Parachute wings. I liked jumping – it was a totally different, exciting_ and exhilarating experience. We were now in the spring of 1945 and I was 21 and a full 
lieutenant. WOW!

Not enough volunteers for Paras came from the Chindits so the 
Army tried reverse psychology. They sent my old Chindit Battalion to 
’Pindi and said that those who did not want to become Paras would be 
transferred out. I guess most of the battalion wanted to stay 
together so very few left. The Colonel promptly told me to come back 
as I was the only officer who was a Para. I was sent to a camp in the 
Himalayas and, as the men completed their jumps, they were sent up to 
me. This did not last too long. The Colonel ordered me to report to 
’Pindi at once. I did so and he told me that he had a vacancy for home leave. I was not yet due, but once again he said I was the only 
Para so I was to fill the vacancy. Whoopee!

In short order I headed for Karachi with a raging case of 
dysentery. I checked in at an Army hospital in Karachi – the doctor 
took one look at me and my Chindit badge and said, “You are not going 
home – you are going into hospital.” I refused his kind offer most 
vehemently and left the hospital with several bottles of chalk and 
opium which did help a little.

We flew out from Karachi in a Short Sunderland flying boat that 
had belonged to British Imperial Airways in peacetime and, after stops 
in Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, Naples and Marseilles, we arrived in 
Portsmouth, England three days later. Up to London and home on the 
Royal Scot train to Glasgow. I was given a sleeper on the train 
thanks to the Chindit badge. This was an almost impossible 
accomplishment under normal circumstances. By the way, I had wired 
from Karachi that I was coming home, but I beat the wire. It was not 
until I phoned from London that my folks knew I was coming.

That was May 1945 and I was supposed to be home for a month. As 
soon as I started eating Mother’s cooking the dysentery left me. 
Donald Munro came to our place on leave from Italy, the war in Europe 
was over and my Mother told me that I did not have to go back to the 
Far East. Don and I had a great leave. Due to a mix-up I was at home 
for almost two months and flew back to India towards the end of June 
1945. Our plane developed engine trouble in Bahrain and we were stuck 
there for 10 days – and you guessed it, the dysentery came right back. 
Woe is me!

The Battalion was back in Dehra Dun and we started training as Paras. In July a call came from Ceylon (Sri Lanka asking for training ~ 
asking for Officers to volunteer for special duty. Force 136, a cloak and dagger 
outfit (see Bridge on the River Kwai) were stationed in Ceylon and we 
figured that they were recruiting. Together with another officer, I 
flew to Ceylon. When we arrived we were kept in a barbed wire 
enclosed camp and not permitted to wear our red berets or Para wings. 
AHA! Cloak and dagger, we thought. There were maybe twenty of us in 
the camp and we were assigned team numbers – two officers to a team.
My number was one, and, by chance, the other officer from the 
Battalion was in Team Two. The mystery deepened. Around the middle 
of August Teams 1 and 2 were sent for in the afternoon and we were 
given orders by Lord Louis Mountbatten himself (LLM). I had met him 
once before when he came to see us in Lalligat before going into 
Burma. When he shook my hand, he told me that his first naval command 
had been the H.M.S. Wishart. LLM told us that a new bomb had been 
dropped on Japan on two occasions and that there was news of a 
possible Japanese surrender. He said if that was so, it was imperative 
that British troops return to the island of Singapore as quickly as 
possible. The only way he could do that was to send in Paras. The 
POWs and civilian internees would then realize that their ordeal was 
almost over and that help was on the way. We flew out that evening, 
Teams 1 and 2, in a converted Liberator bomber and jumped into 
Singapore at 5 a.m. the following morning. We landed in a jungle 
clearing and, as senior officer, I went first. It was dark, pouring 
rain, I landed in a tree and, in about two weeks, I was going to be 

When daylight came, we approached a group of Japanese soldiers and we 
did not like the way they were looking at us. Not at all. However, a 
senior officer arrived, surrendered his sword to me and shortly 
thereafter, a truckload of POWs came on to the clearing. They were 
from Changi Jail, the main POW camp. The Chinese had told them that 
men had come from the sky and they came down to see for themselves. 
They stole the truck from the Nips. We were given a very, very warm 
welcome and the POWs immediately assumed that we were Yanks, 
remarking, “I say, old man, no British officer would dress like that.” 
Most of the POWs were from the peacetime army and our green uniforms, 
Para helmets, jumps boots, grenades, automatic rifles, etc. were just 
not the way they remembered British officers being equipped in 1942.

The POWs and civilians had been imprisoned since early 1942 and 
had suffered the most brutal, sadistic, inhuman treatment at the hands 
of the Japanese. Many thousands had died and, when we arrived, many more 
were dying. I will not dwell on this; Japanese atrocities have been 
well documented elsewhere.

We were in Singapore for about three weeks and then British, 
Gurkha and Indian troops came in and LLM accepted the official 
surrender of the Japanese. An interesting note … When LLM sent us in 
he told me that he assumed that Lady Percival, the wife of the General 
Officer commanding Singapore at the time of the surrender in 1942, and 
Lady Shenton-Thomas, wife of the Governor of Singapore, would still be 
alive. If this was true, he was to be informed by radio and, if 
conditions were right, he would send in a plane to take them out. 
They were alive and I told the two ladies about LLM’s orders. They 
thanked me very nicely and said that they would leave the island when 
all the other civilians had left and not before. LLM was not happy 
about this.

With the surrender, I was out of a job. No, I wasn’t. An 
officer from LLM’s staff was looking for people to go to Java and 
Sumatra and, since we had been doing the kind of work he wanted, he 
came to us. We sailed a few days later on H.M.S. Cruiser “Cumberland” 
from Singapore to Batavia in Java. We crossed the equator on board 
ship and the crew had a great time inducting the few Paras into King 
Neptune’s court. I still have the certificate.

Upon arriving in Java, which had been a Dutch East India 
possession, I was asked to go to Semarang in Central Java, was 
promoted to Captain, commandeered a Chevy convertible and, accompanied 
by Lieutenant Helfrich, a Dutch Fleet Air Arm pilot, we set off. We 
were entering upon one of the strangest episodes of my Army career.

Upon arriving in Semarang, a shallow water port, we went to what 
had been a hotel on the hills above the town and established our HQ. 
We released a number of Dutch POWs, locked up the Nips and put the 
Dutch on guard duty. We quickly visited all the camps and found that 
the treatment of the Dutch in Java by the Japanese was the same as in 
Singapore. It was sickening to see the results. We knew what we had 
to do from our experiences in Singapore – a piece of cake. Not so. The Japanese had assumed that they were going to win the war and had troops were brought in from 
They failed to do so and told the Indonesians that, when the war was over, they would be given 
their independence. With the Japanese now beaten and only Dutch POWs on 
the islands, the Indonesians armed themselves and set about taking 
control of Java and Sumatra. LLM was on the radio in no time. The 
Japanese had agreed to maintain law and order in the islands until Allied 
troops could be landed. Release the Japanese, rearm them and let them go 
to it. It got thoroughly nasty. The Japanese were determined that I see 
everything they were doing, night and day. There was some very hard 
fighting as the Japanese tried to retake the town and surrounding areas 
and both the Japanese and the Indonesians did disgusting things to each 

After some weeks, Gurkhas arrived on the scene and took over. I 
left Semarang on November 9, 1945, flew to Singapore and sailed in a 
tramp steamer from there back to Ceylon. In Java and Sumatra, eventually Dutch 
Europe to try to retake the islands. 
Indonesia came into being.

Another interesting note … In Semarang we had set up a small 
airstrip right down on the coastline. It was just a flat field with a 
small hut, a couple of Dutch paws, a radio and a field telephone. One 
morning, very early, the field phone in our HQ rang. Helfrich and I 
were both sound asleep. One of the men at the airstrip reported that 
there was a plane over the strip asking for permission to land. I 
told him to hold the plane up until I got down to the strip and set 
off there in my Desoto (nicknamed “The Battleship”.) When I arrived at 
the strip, we brought the plane in. It landed, a door opened, two RAF 
types dressed in white coveralls came out, placed a small ladder at 
the door and out stepped Lady Louis Mountbatten who, at that time was 
head of the British Red Cross. I was unshaven, in a dirty uniform and 
completely stunned! She had two secretaries with her. She wanted to 
see all the camps and I was to tell her what we needed. She spent the 
whole day with us and worked the two secretaries to death. She left 
late that day and we subsequently received everything we asked for. 
Doctors, nurses, food, medicines, etc. You name it, we got it. That 
Lady wielded a big stick.

Dehra Dun where the Battalion had been in 
were now in Karachi and off I went again.

I went from Ceylon to 
July only to find out we were on Internal Security duties in Karachi because both India and 
the proposed new country of Pakistan were striving for independence 
from Britain. The peoples of both these areas, one Hindu and the 
other Muslim, were also doing disgusting things to each other.

Basically, life was tennis, field hockey, parachuting, the odd 
parade and route march and showing the flag from time to time at 
trouble spots. Dull, dull dull. Around May 1945, my number came up 
and I was going home. A few of us took a tramp steamer from Karachi 
to Bombay. It took about three weeks in and out of small ports_ Very 
restful and the food was good.

Got into trouble when we hit Bombay. We had taken too long and 
had missed our ship, “You Paras think you can get away with 
anything,” seemed-to be the cry. Eventually we boarded the “Stirling 
Castle”, sailed through the Indian Ocean, up the Suez Canal, into the 
Mediterranean, touched in at Naples and eventually arrived in 
Portsmouth. The English Channel was littered with tropical gear 
thrown overboard by happy soldiers.

Given leave, I went home, slept and ate and did nothing. After a month, I was told to report to Para Barracks on the Isle of Wight. Stayed there until the middle of December 1946 and I was demobbed. MY 

Looking back at the portion of my story that covers the war 
years, I am amazed and, perhaps, even a little surprised that I am 
still able to recall, with a fair degree of clarity, so many of the 
major happenings in my life from over 50 years ago. There is no doubt 
that the war was a significant chapter in all the lives of the men and 
women who were involved in it and who survived and that it will ever remain so.

As far as I am concerned, I would not have missed it. I went 
into it as a boy and came out 5 years later as a man who was 
thoroughly familiar with his strengths and weaknesses. I was a 
soldier, sometimes a good one and, at other times, something less than 
good. I went to places in the world. that I would not otherwise have 
visited and was too young to appreciate the privilege. I faced some 
dangers, sometimes looking them right in the eye, and sometimes with 
less fortitude. I suppose the prospect of death was always present, 
but it was not so frightening as the thought of being taken alive by the enemy. We were determined that this would not happen. I met and 
fought beside men of many races, who, regardless of their race or 
colour, joined in the fight to preserve civilization. I regret that, 
50 years later, we do not remember this and show more tolerance to 
those Asians who believed sufficiently in our cause to come to our aid 
and often die for their belief.

The war was a battle against the most terrifying forces of 
barbarism and evil and a battle that we HAD to win. It took the lives 
of millions of men, women and children, but in the end, we prevailed. 
May such a tragedy never again be visited upon the world. AMEN.

And so … I moved on to a new beginning and a new life.

Over Christmas 1946, Jack and Jean Munro, later affectionately 
known at Uncle Jack and Aunt Jean, from Carstairs, Alberta came to 
visit us in Newton Mearns. They had been friends of my parents when 
young and had immigrated to Canada in the early 20s. I was unsettled. 
I had left school at 16, worked at odd jobs for two years and then had 
been in the Army for almost five years. I had no training or 
schooling for the business world. I talked with Uncle Jack and he 
suggested that I come to Canada. Since I had not seen that part of 
the world and, since Scotland was, at that time, a good place to come
 from, I happily agreed. It transpired that my parents and sisters had 
received the same offer; a fact that I was made aware of the night I 
was due to fly out. On May 13, 1947 I flew out from Prestwick to 
Montreal and Calgary and was followed a month later by my family.

I was met by Uncle Jack and went up to the farm at Carstairs. At 
that time I was determined to go out of this world the way I had come 
in – single, but I met Isabel, one of the Munro daughters and, after a 
frigid two weeks of silence from Isabel, we subsequently became 
engaged to be married.

My parents, meantime, had bought a house in Calgary and my mother 
still lives there. In August 1947 I went to work in the oil fields of 
Black Diamond. It quickly became apparent that, without suitable 
qualifications, I had no future in the oil business.

Before leaving Scotland, I had met a Mr. McLellan who was 
Chairman of the Scottish Board of the Weston group of Companies who 
kindly gave me a couple of letters to the Weston Group in Canada. One 
day I went to Weston’s Bread and Cake (Canada) Limited 640 14 Avenue SE in Calgary looking for a job. There were none available. Back to 
Black Diamond. In October 1947 I received a letter from Weston’s 
signed by a Mr. V. G. Ursaki asking me to go up and see him. 
Convinced he was Japanese, I ignored the letter. Another followed and I 
was then determined to face him and tell him what do with his job. It 
turned out that Ursaki was a Central European name and he hired me as 
a junior office clerk at $31.25 per week. At that time, I did not 
have the foggiest idea what debit and credit meant.

Is and I had, by now, contracted to have a house built on 27 
Avenue and 5 Street NW. The cost was $6700 with $2000 down and a 
mortgage of $4700 at 4.5% payable at the rate of $41.25 per month 
P.I.T. The house was to be ready in September 1948 and we were to be 
married on July 3, 1948. We rented a flat in downtown Calgary for the 
two months.

In June 1948, Vic Ursaki announced that he was being promoted to 
Office Manager in Winnipeg and that I was to be Office Manager in 
Calgary. Well, I tell you – THE WHATSIT HIT THE FAN! I had been so 
busy courting Isabel that I had not had time to learn the job. Vic’s only 
comment was, “Tough!”

We got married, spent a week in Waterton Lakes; Vic left and I 
knuckled down to learn the job. I also spoke to the General Manager, 
an old Scot who had owned the bakery before Weston bought him out and 
suggested to him that I should now receive the same salary as Vic had 
been getting. Mr. Cameron hated spending money, but after much 
hemming and hawing, he agreed. I was now earning $57 per week – a 
fortune when you consider that we had come back from our honeymoon’ 
with about $35 in our pockets!

We moved into our new house and settled down. I studied accounting by correspondence course at home, worked very hard at the 
bakery and seemed to develop a flair for the job. Patricia Jane came 
along in May 1949 and life was good.

Word came that a new Weston plant was to be built in Edmonton. I 
knew the General Manager, J.L. Johnston, and he was a rough, tough 
SOB. I told him that he needed me as his Office Manager and he just 
laughed. However, I got the job and we moved to Edmonton in July 
1951. I was sent down East for a month to spend time in the bakeries 
there and to pick up some experience. We bought a house at 11331 110A Avenue for $10,500 with a mortgage of $6,160. The GM gave us our 
first vehicle – a Commer Bread van that he brought up from Medicine 
Hat. He also had the motor reconditioned. We had fun with that wee 
bucket with PJ and Doug in the back. Doug, now our tall, curly haired 
son, arrived in October 1951. The new bakery was just great; I met 
Mr. Weston for the first time and we quickly settled in.

In November 1952, I had a call from Toronto and was instructed to 
be there ASAP. Why, asked I? They would not tell me except to say that I was to see Mr. R.A. Robertson. R.A. was the President of the Weston chain in Canada and people trembled when his name was 
mentioned. Apparently he too, like J.L. Johnston was a rough, tough 
SOB. So down I went and still nobody would tell me a thing. Not even 
the President of the Bread Company with whom I was on really friendly terms. I was ushered into R.A. ‘s presence; he inquired politely about 
Isabel and the children (he had, obviously, just read my file), and then 
told me that he had a grievous problem and I had been recommended as 
the solution. He mentioned Montreal and I said, “No thanks”. He then 
went on to say that the job was with the Biscuit Division and I said 
”no” again. He then told me a story about the young men in the 
company to whom he had offered advancement and it had been refused. He 
then inferred that they would never again be given another chance. 
All this was at 10:00 o’clock in the morning and he suggested that I 
go and ‘phone Isabel and talk it over with her. Then I could come back at 
1:00 p.m. and give him my answer. I could not get through to Western 
Canada so I went to see my boss, the Treasurer of the Bread Division, 
Gavin Patterson. He was a little upset that one of his Office 
Managers was in Toronto without his knowledge but, after a while, 
urged me to accept anything offered by R.A. So, at 1:00 p.m. I did 
just that. When I arrived back in Edmonton, Isabel met me, said “Where?” 
I said, “Montreal“ and I then got what was virtually the Biblical 
response, “Where thou goest, there go I” from Isabel.

We put the house up for sale in December 1952. It was a bitter 
winter and nobody came to see it. Weston’s eventually bought it and 
we took out our equity. We arrived in Montreal at the end of January 
1953 and the Company had booked a suite of rooms for us at the Hotel 
de La Salle. Isabel thought this was great – for about 10 days, then she wanted to know when we could get our own place. She had had enough rich food. I was introduced to the General Manager of the Biscuit Company 
in Longueuil as his new Office Manager and he knew nothing about it! 
What a great start! He hardly spoke to me for six months.

Having moved twice in our short married life, and since we were 
not too sure about Montreal, we moved into an apartment and stayed 
there for a year. At that time, I asked the GM and Toronto about my 
future in Montreal and was assured that it was good. So, we bought a 
nice little bungalow at 18 Upper Edison in St. Lambert for $17,750 and 
settled down to raise our family. Angus arrived in July 1954, Nancy 
in January 1958 and Hugh in September 1960. At work I moved from 
Office Manager to Plant Superintendent, Assistant Manager and then 
General Manager. In July 1965, Isabel was expecting Tam and our house was 
just too small for our gang. We moved to 191 de Bourgogne in Preville 
in April 1965 to a larger but not better built two storey for which 
we paid $21,175 cash.

Tricia and David were married in June 1970 and Isabel and I, Angus, 
Nancy, Hugh and Tam came west in July and August for a six-week 
vacation. We had a great holiday and the children met relatives they 
had never seen before.

Just before going on vacation, I had been offered the position of 
Vice President of the North American Biscuit Division and had, as it 
turned out, foolishly accepted. We moved to Toronto in October 1970. 
We had spent almost 18 years in Montreal. Eighteen happy, busy years 
raising our family, working hard and very involved with the church. 
The children were not at all happy about leaving and when we bought a 
house in Mississauga and moved in, they were even more upset. So were 
Is and I. We spent a horrible year there and I spent most of my time 
in planes visiting plants all over North America. It just was not my 
bag and I missed my family terribly. In October 1971, I left 
Weston’s, we sold the house and moved to Calgary.

In Calgary, I joined Atco, left Atco after six months and went 
into Real Estate for three years; went back to Atco and stayed there 
until I retired in 1986. We lived in a mobile home for years and then 
bought our house in August 1985. From this point on your parents can 
fill you in on our history.
Now coming up to 72 and, of course, retired, I often reflect on 
the life of the wee laddie from Glasgow. It has been varied and very interesting. I have travelled far and wide-and met many people. I 
have contributed nothing to the progress of mankind, but then again, 
only a few people ever do.

I consider the following to be the highlights of my life and they are not necessarily in order of importance:- 
Being born a Scot, the War,coming to Canada, marrying my wife,
helping to raise a family of fantastic children who are now 
fantastic adults.

They say that retirement represents one’s golden years. So far 
as I am concerned this is sheer, unadulterated nonsense.

The time I spent raising a family were my golden years and that 
will never change.

Now you have it … my life in a few words on a few pages.

Tam (Crawford) Wishart 
February 1995

Article and photograph courtesy of Crawford’s sons Douglas and Tam Wishart.