A centenarian Dunkirk veteran who passed away has been described as a ‘true gentleman’ with a ‘zest for life’ by doting staff who looked after him after he was laid to rest yesterday.
Harry Osborne, a resident of Westbank Care Home in Troon, died on Monday, January 25, nine months after his 100th birthday.
Harry served with the 77th Highland Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery and later became a surveyor, moving to Troon in the sixties from his home in Queen’s Park in Glasgow.
He was the loving husband of the late Helen, father to Elaine and the late Ronald and grandfather to Alistair.
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Last year, a planned party to mark his 100th birthday in April had to be cancelled because of the pandemic but Westbank Care Home staff pulled out all the stops to ensure Harry could mark his special milestone.
His lockdown party included young piper Nicholas Redford playing outside and two of the Police Scotland mounted branch singing a full “Happy Birthday” to him.
At the time, Harry told everyone: “I loved it, what a memorable 100th.”
Westbank staff paid tribute to Harry and said: “Harry had been a resident at Westbank for four years and last year celebrated his 100th birthday whilst in lockdown.
“Harry was a true gentleman and had a twinkle in his eye. He had a zest for life and enjoyed a wee nip every night before bed.
“Harry spent time in Dunkirk during World War 2 and recalled stories from his time there and was thrilled to see himself on television when this was reported during his birthday celebrations.
“Harry was fortunate to have good friends and family who would visit him regularly and loved to take part in sing-a-longs and quizzes with fellow residents and liked to be the star of the show.
“He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”
WW2 veteran Harry was a gunner deployed to France in January 1940 with the 306 Battery of the 77th Highland Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery.
After waiting in a queue of 50 men, he’d jumped on a tram with his brother and signed up with a TA unit in Cathcart, Glasgow.
Within months he found himself squaring up to the Germans in France, aged just 20.
Soon he was firing Howitzers with a 6000-yard range on 4.5inch shells, originally used for smashing trenches in World War One.
Harry was interviewed by BBC Scotland’s Aileen Clarke when the movie “Dunkirk” arrived in cinemas in 2017.
One wartime anecdote he brought back to life during that interview involved a parrot abandoned in his cage.
Harry previously recalled: “I remember asking this sergeant – who was from Greenock – what he was doing with a parrot.
“He said there was naeb’dy in a hoose and this poor parrot was sitting there with nae watter and nae breed.
“He handed it to a French family in Dunkirk to look after.”
Harry was also a keen golfer and joined Royal Troon in 1967, where he was later made an honorary member.
A private funeral service took place on Wednesday, February 10.