A SECOND World War veteran from the Three Towns has finally received a commemorative coin to mark his military service - at the age of 101.

War hero Edward (Ted) Gear, who now lives in a retirement complex in Saltcoats, enlisted in the Royal Navy aged 18 shortly after the war began.

Ted, who saw service around the world during the conflict, is the oldest member of the Saltcoats, Ardrossan and Stevenston branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland.

He was presented with his Victory Coin by branch president Paul Coffey at his home last week.

The coin was produced by Legion Scotland in August 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the war, with the intention that it be presented to all surviving veterans of the conflict.

But Ted rebuffed the prospect of a formal presentation when he was contacted about his coin, instead being determined that he didn't want any fuss.

Last week, though, Paul "just popped in" to pay Ted a visit - with the full agreement of Ted's family - and had the honour of presenting the centenarian with his Victory Coin on behalf of Legion Scotland, Poppy Scotland and the Scottish Government.

He told Ted the ‘Victory Coin’ was being presented to him in grateful recognition of his contribution to the Allied war effort during WW2.

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: Ted during his naval serviceTed during his naval service (Image: Paul Coffey)

Ted now lives the quiet life in the retirement complex with daily visits from his family, friends and carers.

He was born on February 19, 1922 in a small cottage on Barry Island, just to the west of Cardiff - now a popular seaside resort, but in the 1920s still a busy dockland area.

Ted enlisted in the Royal Navy on March 26, 1940, and after basic training ‘up north’, he joined the ‘ship’ that was to be his home for the next six years - a Harbour Defence Motor Launch.

The vessel was very successful in its role, and was used around the world, although was not the easiest boat to travel in.

Ted sailed around the world with many convoys. His boat's duties whilst in port included protecting the bigger warships and cargo ships.

He described sailing around stationary convoys and dropping three small depth charges at a time, aimed at deterring enemy divers and small submersibles - a dangerous, but important job

In 1942 whilst in home waters, Ted was given two days special leave to marry his sweetheart, Betty McCallum.

They had met whilst Ted was on a run ashore previously in Ardrossan and they had kept in touch.

The marriage was a rush affair due to Ted's naval duties, and took place in the registry office at the ‘Iron Brig’ in Ardrossan Road, Saltcoats.

Having survived the war, and in 1946 having attained the senior rank of Coxswain, Ted was demobbed - though his ship was in Burma at the time he got the news, so it took more than three weeks to get home.

The worst part of the trip, according to Ted, was the five day journey through Burma, India and down to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He still recalls the very basic trains - and his very sore backside!

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald: The Victory Coin

Back in the UK, Ted made his way back to the Three Towns, where his beloved Betty was waiting.

The couple settled in the local area, and Ted began a new career on the railways, eventually becoming a train driver.

In 1946, shortly after returning home, he was "marched down" to the Ardrossan Masonic by his father-in-law Willy McCallum, and joined the 320 Masonic Lodge, based in Castle Craigs - now the Ardrossan Indoor Bowling Club, where the then Lord Eglinton was the Master.

Ted may not be the oldest Masonic member in Scotland, but he may well be the longest serving Mason - and is certainly the oldetst in the local area.

Ted retired due to eyesight problems when he was 63. Sadly his wife Betty passed away, but between them they have five children, nine grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren, some of now live are in Australia.

Congratulations to Ted from all at the Herald.