HARD-working war graves veteran Alex Bulloch, MBE, founder of the War Research Soicety, has died at the age of 82.
Born in Dunbar, Mr Bulloch joined the merchant navy as an assistant baker after national service in the British Army. From 1957 he worked in City of Birmingham police, first as a constable, then as a sergeant, attending the Birmingham Pub Bombings in November, 1974.
While in Paris with his wife, Jessie, in the 1970s, Mr Bulloch became interested in the war graves after a visit to a French cemetery. On his return to Britain he and his colleagues decided to set up the War Research Society, a charitable organisation dedicated to taking relatives of the war dead to visit their graves on the continent.
He started taking relatives of those who fell in the First and Second World Wars to visit the war graves, mainly in France, Belgium and Germany, in 1972.
Over the next 40 years Mr Bulloch took thousands of people to visit the final resting places of the war dead, regularly making more than six trips a year, even when he was well into his seventies.
After he retired from the force in 1988, the War Research Society became a full-time, voluntary job.
He also raised thousands of pounds for causes such as the Commonwealth War Graves Committee and the RBL Poppy Appeal. In 2008 he was awarded an MBE for his charitable services.
His kindness extended beyond his fundraising.
If he believed that any service veterans were unable to afford the trip, he would give them a discount. When a piper who volunteered with the organisation started having problems with his hearing, Mr Bulloch paid for him out of society funds to go to see a specialist. He had a strong sense of duty and kept on the running of the organisation alongside caring for his wife, who had progressive Parkinson’s disease for 32 years.
He often attributed his interest in the First World War to the songs and stories that he heard from his mother and the anecdotes he was told about his soldier uncle.
He was a man of many talents, able to play both the piano and the pipes, starting the Birmingham force’s pipe band.
As a long-term Freemason, he kept up his links to his roots through his life membership of Dunbar Castle No 75 Lodge. When it became apparent last year that he would be unable to keep making trips due to his declining health, three of his friends resolved to continue his legacy with Battlefield Memorial Tours, running three trips this year to war graveyards in Normandy, Arnhem and Mons.
Mr Bulloch was greatly helped in his work by his older brother Jackie who passed away two weeks before him.
He is survived by two sons, Keith and Ian.