Son of local war veteran speaks of army days

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  • Telegram from the Queen to mark 100 years
  • War veteran only just escaped WW2 torpedo attack

The son of a well known Deeside war veteran has shared the story of his father’s lucky escape from a torpedo attack during WW2.

Charlie Forbes, who celebrated his 100th birthday with a party at Deeside Activity Park on March 7, spent most of his working life as a lorry driver for Aberdeenshire Council, with the exception of six years spent in the Army’s Royal Engineers.

He would have been in France and they were headed for somewhere when they got torpedoed.

Ian Forbes

A dedicated employee, Mr Forbes only agreed to sign up after his boss at the local authority assured him he would still have his job as a lorry driver on his return.

During his six years of duty, he was on board the SS Mohamed Ali El-Kebir when it was torpedoed and sank 250 miles off Northern Ireland, on August 7, 1940, killing 96 people.

The ship had been en route to the Mediterranean from Avonmouth when it was attacked by a German U-38.

Son Ian Forbes, 76, said: “He was a lorry driver with the council for more than 40 years, It was a broken service because he was called up to the Army.

“He went away to do this fighting for six years and came back to the lorry until he retired in 1981.

“He would have been in France and they were headed for somewhere when they got torpedoed.

“He never really spoke about the war, he’s a great British Legion man as well and was a standard bearer for a lot of years.”

The eldest of nine siblings, Mr Forbes has two brothers who live in Edinburgh.

In 1935, he met and married Flossie nd the couple lived at Lumphanan, where they had two children together – Charlie Jnr and Ian – before moving to Aboyne 20 years ago.

Charlie Jnr passed away in 1996 and Mr Forbes lost his wife Flossie in 2011.

He is the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

Mr Forbes said he was “delighted” to receive a telegram from the Queen to mark his 100th birthday.

Speaking of the party, his son Ian said a total of 23 people attended the birthday celebrations.

Manager of Deeside Activity Park Cilla Wood said: “The party was a huge success. It was really fantastic, we managed to get the photographs from the parish church when he was born and photos of his christening and when he was in the forces.”