Edinburgh veterans share story in Royal Scots Museum commemorative WW2 film

The Royal Scots Museum has released its first ever commemorative film to mark the 80th anniversary of the break-out of World War 2.
Mr Barnetson's medals. Picture: Greg MacVean.Mr Barnetson's medals. Picture: Greg MacVean.
Mr Barnetson's medals. Picture: Greg MacVean.

‘Scottish Soldiers - World War 2 Memories’ features four veterans, two of whom, Jack Barnetson and Bill Walker, are from Edinburgh.

The film, which consists of interviews with veterans and their relatives as well as photos from the war, also features veterans John Errington, from Penicuik, and Jack Hall, from London.

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Mr Barnetson, 97, was at the video launch on Friday at the Royal Scots Museum with his closest relative, Louis Moir-Barnetson, 35.

Jack Barnetson at the launch of the commemorative film. Picture: Greg MacVeanJack Barnetson at the launch of the commemorative film. Picture: Greg MacVean
Jack Barnetson at the launch of the commemorative film. Picture: Greg MacVean

“I enjoyed making the video,” said Mr Barnetson. .

“I like talking about the war. All the television programmes I watch are about the war, all the books I read are about it.”

Mr Barnetson was a lieutenant in the Royal Scots 2nd Battalion, called up at the young age of 20 in 1942.

He served in Italy, but was captured in the Apennines and spent two years as a Prisoner of War.

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“Having fought in the war, it’s a very personal experience,” he said.

“Making friends, speaking to someone, and the next day they could be dead.

“That very personal experience means most people who I’m now friends with, my real friends, were in the war.”

Mr Barnetson spoke of being called up at the age of 20, saying that he had friends who were Conscientious Objectors, but that he didn’t think of refuising to go.

“I didn’t want to kill anyone, no-one did,” he said.

“But someone had to do it.”

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Mr Barnetson said he wasn’t afraid when he was called up, and was never frightened during the war apart from when he could hear shells coming.

“They sounded like an express train coming through a country station,” he said.

“You never knew who was going to be the one that got hit.”

Bill Walker, 98, born and bred on the Cowgate, ais also in the video.

Walker, who earned the Burma Star medal during his service, was wounded in action and in recent years found himself ‘trapped’ in his Oxgangs home due to his reduced mobility.

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This changed in June when a £5,000 ramp was installed at his home by a partnership including the Council, Legion Scotland, SSAFA and his family, allowing him to get out of the house more easily.

Due to illness he was not able to attend the premiere, but his daughter Fran Corbett, 67, was there.

“The film is fabulous,” she said.

“Dad, Jack and the others were so frank, it was amazing.

“I’ve never heard my dad speak so much about the war, usually when we were growing up there were just snippets, silly things mostly.”

Colonel Martin Gibson of the Royal Scots Museum said: “We are immensley proud of the Regiment’s record in both World Wars and were determined to record first-hand accounts of World War II ‘Old Royals’ before it’s too late.

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“Their stories were so compelling and universal, we just had to turn the recordings into a film. It will help their descendants and others remember the sacrifice of their generation, as well as enabling an enduring legacy.”