FEW who serve their country in a time of war manage to escape unscathed.

Whether the scars are physical or mental, there is usually a price to pay.
However, when you ask 103-year-old John Haswell Young about his time in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, he is happy to admit he is “one of the lucky ones.”

Of course, many others who served in that conflict and The Great War that went before it weren’t so fortunate.

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This is why, for veterans such as John, this particular time of year is always poignant.

And, with this Sunday marking the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the need to remember the fallen is even more sharply in focus.

John, who is known to his friends as ‘Hasie,’ is one of many former servicemen and women being cared for by veterans charity Erskine.

And he feels hugely honoured to have been asked to lay a wreath at the Erskine Home in Bishopton, where he stays, on Sunday in memory of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Hasie told The Gazette: “It’s a time to commemorate the fallen and give thanks to people like myself, I suppose, although I only came out with a few scrapes.

“Apart from some bombing in England, I didn’t see all that much action.

“I am very fortunate to be here, unlike some of my poor colleagues who were right in the thick of it.

“I remember one of them was posted overseas and never came back.

“I’m lucky. I survived.”

Hasie served in the RAF for six years, largely as an equipment officer stationed in England and India, supplying everything from shoes to aircraft parts wherever they were needed.

He was following in a family tradition, as his father – Major Andrew Young – served in the Royal Flying Corps, before the RAF was created.

Andrew was on his honeymoon in Switzerland when the First World War broke out but he quickly joined the RFC as an equipment officer, receiving an OBE for his services in 1919.

The Gazette:

Hasie's dad Major Andrew Young served in the Royal Flying Coprs 

Hasie is quick to express his deep gratitude that he is still alive to tell others of such a significant period of history.

Armistice Day has come and gone many times since he left the RAF but, wherever he is and whatever he is doing on November 11, fallen comrades are never far from his thoughts.

Hasie, originally from Beith, said: “Sometimes I go to a church service on Armistice Day, sometimes I have a game of golf, which I think has helped me live so long, but it will be an honour to lay a wreath this year.

“I love it here at the Erskine Home.”

Erskine has been caring for ex-servicemen and women since 1916.

Through its four care homes, two in Bishopton and one in Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively, the charity provides support to veterans and helps them enjoy the companionship of like-minded people. Each of the homes will have a formal Remembrance service.

The Gazette:

The flying helmet worn by Hasie's dad during the First World War

Erskine chief executive, wing commander Ian Cumming MBE, said:

“Armistice Day is a significant and poignant event for everyone at Erskine, but for our veterans in particular.

“We remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, during a century of conflicts from the First World War to the present day.

“We support our veteran residents who served during the Second World War, as they each reflect individually on what they saw and the friends they lost.

“And of course, Erskine staff and beneficiaries who saw fighting and peacekeeping in more recent conflicts, also come together to support each other.

“We reflect on what we have learned about the devastating physical and psychological effects of war on individuals and families. 

“More importantly at this time of year, Erskine remembers those who gave their lives, so that we might live in freedom. 

“We pledge to honour their memory by caring for those heroes who did come home.”

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There will be a service at the Erskine Home at 10.50am on Sunday, with two minutes silence being marked at exactly 11am, commemorating the moment when the guns finally stopped 100 years ago.

Residents of the Erskine Home will be treated to a concert in the afternoon, with a singer performing.

Meanwhile, veterans at Erskine Park Home, also in Bishopton, will have their own concert to enjoy after their service.