A Second World War veteran from Perthshire recently received a special commendation for his service.

James Christie (94), a resident at Muirton House Care Home in Blairgowrie, was awarded a Victory Coin for his contribution towards the Allied war effort.

Unfortunately, due to current restrictions imposed as part of efforts to tackle the global coronavirus pandemic, it was not possible to hold a formal presentation of his commendation for the popular figure, known as Jimmy.

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However, staff at the Essendy Road home were determined to mark the occasion and recognise Jimmy’s achievements while ensuring that all precautions were in place to keep residents safe. 

Activity co-ordinator at Muirton, Angela Boshoff, said: “Jimmy is a man of great faith and has nominated his minister, Alastair Morrice, to be his designated visitor during this restricted period.

“When Jimmy received his coin our residents were allowed one designated visitor only, as per government guidelines.

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“Had it not been for the pandemic, Jimmy would have been presented with his coin surrounded by friends and members of his beloved Invergowrie Church and the local Rotary Club, and we felt it was important to do all we could to show our appreciation for his service.

“Rev Morrice brought with him recordings to play for Jimmy, including one prepared by children who sang ‘He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands’.

“There were also messages and kind wishes from other members of the church who sent their thanks and appreciation for Jimmy, wishing that they could visit him in person to commemorate this very important recognition of his service.

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“Jimmy was visibly moved to tears and filled with emotion as he received the very special gifts.

“He said he felt truly humbled by the love and support he has been shown.”

Jimmy joined the Scots Guards in mid 1942 when he was just 18 years old and was posted to North Africa for training in 1943. By the end of 1943 he was in Italy and he fought at the Battle of Anzio with the Scots Guards alongside US forces, landing on January 24, 1944, and not leaving until March.

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Moving through northern Italy, Jimmy was hit by shrapnel from a mortar bomb and was taken to hospital in Naples, leaving just a couple of days before Mount Vesuvius erupted on March 17, killing 26 civilians and displacing some 12,000 people, including military personnel.

Allied forces managed the evacuations, clean-up and much of the rebuilding of the villages struck by the volcano.

Back in active service, Jimmy fought with the South Africans in north Italy, narrowly avoiding being hit by a shell which crashed through the roof of a house he and his colleagues were sheltering in.

Following a few months stationed in Venice, Jimmy was put on light duties due to his injuries, which, even after the end of the war continued to affect him.

Some two decades after he returned from the war, Jimmy had an operation to remove a piece of shrapnel from his chest.