MURRAY Frier, former shipping clerk and “Desert Rat”, has died, aged 102.
William Murray Frier was born in Glasgow on December 27, 1911, but grew up in the Capital.
Educated at Broughton School, Murray started work at 15, first as an office boy with shipbrokers in Leith, then as a shipping clerk and commercial traveller with Coast Lines Ltd, a coastal shipping firm that by 1951 operated a fleet of 109 ships, carrying over four million tons of cargo, half a million head of livestock, and more than a million passengers.
Murray canvassed for business from firms and factories throughout the south-east of Scotland and the Borders and was so successful that his firm struggled to cope with the volume of freight that he generated.
He was a keen Boy Scout and in 1931, was part of a small Scottish contingent at the 1st World Rover Moot in Switzerland, where he photographed Chief Scout Robert Baden-Powell and his wife, the Chief Guide. In the 1930s, the 4th Leith (St Serf’s) Rover Scout Crew in Trinity became renowned for a series of highly popular shows that predated the Edinburgh Gang Show by many years. Intended to raise funds to build a permanent HQ, they also entertained people in local hospitals and residential homes and raised money for charity.
With war imminent in 1939, Murray joined the Territorial Army, and began training as a gunner. The 291st battery was one of three in the 94th Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery and was recruited from the banks, insurance companies, legal and other professional offices in Edinburgh.
The regiment was sent to Egypt in 1941 and he took part in the second battle of El Alamein in 1942. Murray was proud to be called a “Desert Rat”. His scouting experience had prepared him for the rigours and privations of life in the desert.
From the 1950s onwards, the growth of road haulage eclipsed freight transport by coastal shipping and in 1971 Coast Lines Ltd was taken over by P&O Ferries and the Leith office was closed. Murray then worked on the 1971 National Census and was retained by the civil service until he retired in 1976.
He was an elder in the Church of Scotland for more than 50 years, serving for 12 years as session clerk at Stockbridge Church in Edinburgh, and as an elder at St Stephen’s Church, Comely Bank until 1996.
Murray’s lifelong hobby was growing vegetables, fruit and flowers. In August 1946 he married Christina Anderson, who predeceased him in 2007. He is survived by his son, daughter and four grandchildren.