Second World War pilot celebrates 100th birthday in Edinburgh

Second World War veteran Dr Hugh Norman MacPhail is celebrating his 100th birthday in Edinburgh today as friends and family from all over the world come together.

Dr MacPhail was born in Sheffield but spent most of his life in Scotland, buying a house on Kingsburgh Road in Edinburgh after getting married to his wife Elizabeth in 1952.

It is the very same house where they raised their four children that Dr MacPhail is celebrating his 100th birthday on April 4 – nearly 70 years later.

His son, Dave, made the trip all the way from Australia to be with his family for the celebration.

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"I’m probably the furthest afield,” the veterinary surgeon told the Evening News.

“But one of my brother’s has come from Italy and a grandson has come from Portugal.

"There are people coming from all over the place really, half the street is planning to turn up for a drink, a piece of cake and to sing happy birthday. It’ll be a real bit of fun.”

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Dr MacPhail in the Second World War learning to fly.

While he was a well-known and respected doctor practising at the Murrayfield Medical Practice for the majority of his career, he was also a skilled pilot who served with the RAF during the Second World War.

He did his initial flight training in Ontario, Canada, and after excelling he was provided further training for a role as a flying instructor.

Dave said someone from the RAF is planning to attend the birthday celebrations on Monday afternoon to mark his father’s achievement.

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"He is probably one of the last pilots standing from the Second World War I would think,” he said.

Dr MacPhail is celebrating his 100th birthday in the home he has lived in since 1952.

“They are planning to give him some sort of a certificate. He loved flying, he was a very good pilot so it will mean a lot to him.”

Growing up Dave described Dr MacPhail's strong work ethic as one to be respected.

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"He was a very busy person with work but family life was also very important to him,” he said.

"We spent all our summers up in Lewis which is where his parents are from. He loved it there, just being out on the moors and down the beach, catching up with everyone – every person up there is a second cousin of some description so it was very much a family place.”

Second World War veteran Dr Hugh Norman MacPhail is celebrating his 100th birthday in Edinburgh today.

He was also an active sportsman who had no end to his talents, “you name it he was involved,” Dave said.

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"He was into all sorts from tennis and squash to golf… he’s still playing golf in his 99th year, he has been a member at Muirfield for many years and is a life-member at Bruntsfield too so those things are very important to him.”

One of the most touching parts Dave described of his father turning 100 is the stream of cards arriving from people who have known him over the years.

"Some are from patients he treated 60-odd years ago, they have remembered or somehow worked out it’s a big year, and others are just from all sorts of people he has kept up with over the years… including his good friend Queen Elizabeth who was kind enough to send him a card! He was very pleased to get that indeed.”

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Dr Hugh Norman MacPhail served as a pilot in the Second World War.

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Malcolm Reeves, 7 Squadron RAF Odingham. Presenting Hugh with a framed picture of the latest 7 Chanook. Picture credit: SOFIA FERREIRA
Hugh with grandchildren Phoebe and Shelley. Picture credit: SOFIA FERREIRA

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Picture of neighbours. Picture credit: SOFIA FERREIRA
Hugh sat at front of house to meet his neighbours. Picture credit: SOFIA FERREIRA