Ex-wartime Chindit dies on 90th birthday

Obit
Obit

WELL-KNOWN Culter man, Stanley Rothney, died suddenly in his home at Eldenside on Tuesday, September 3, at the age of 90

Mr Rothney, who is understood to have died on his birthday, was pre-deceased by his wife, Isobel, and son Graeme but is survived by his daughter, Lesley, and two grandchildren.

Mr Rothney spent most of his life as a constable then sergeant in the local police force, joining the Aberdeenshire Constabulary in 1947 and eventually retiring from Grampian Police in 1976.

However, it was for his service as a soldier fighting in the World War Two Far East campaign that he was eventually brought to public notice during a 2005 television documentary on BBC2 entitled ‘VJ Heroes - Scotland’s Jungle War.’

It revealed the campaign where he and his fellow soldiers faced and fought the Japanese from the fall of Hong Kong and Singapore to eventually victory at Kohima.

He had joined the Royal Scots before being selected for service in the Far East as a King’s Own Scottish Borderer then with the Camerons.

Finding himself in terrain very different to the rolling Buchan countryside he’d been used to - “hot, monsoon-lashed, dense jungle” - Stanley Rothney was selected for a special force known as the ‘Chindits,’ trained in long-range penetration operations behind Japanese lines, flown into areas of secret operation in Waco gliders and into a theatre of war where, he told interviewers, “men succumbed to blackwater fever, dengue fever and malaria.

‘‘When we walked back out of the jungle we were so malnourished and sickly (we) resembled prisoners in a concentration camp.”

Eventually becoming a member of the Burma Star Association, in retirement he gave many talks to schoolchildren on his war years and the ‘Chindits.’

However, on a lighter note, Stanley was last interviewed by the Deeside Piper six years ago when he came face to face with a famous trophy, the Calcutta Cup, which his ancestor James Rothney had helped create while secretary of the Calcutta Football Club in India in the late 1870s.

Stanley had been invited as guest speaker at a lunch in the Sportsman’s Club in Aberdeen.

It was there he revealed that the story of the Calcutta Cup’s Scottish link had never been made public until quite recently.

He told them: “It means a lot to us to let people know about the efforts of our kith and kin.....it is great to see how prestigious (the Calcutta Cup) has become.”

The funeral service of this remarkable local hero will be held at Peterculter Parish Church tomorrow (Friday) at 12.30pm, thereafter in the West Chapel of Aberdeen Crematorium, Hazlehead.

All friends are respectfully invited but with family flowers only, though donations can be made to the Burma Star Association at either Culter Church door or the Crematorium exit door.

n We would like to apologise for the inaccuracy in last week’s Deeside Piper which said the band playing for Braemar Village Hall ceilidh after the Braemar Gathering was “Cults-based” - it was in fact a North West Highland band, the Grousebeaters Sound System.