Nov 22 2012 by Julie Gilbert, Hamilton Advertiser
A former Hamilton man and member of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry passed away on November 1.
Bob McCrum was 92 years old. Although he had lived most of his adult life in the West Calder area of West Lothian, Bob hailed originally from Hamilton where he learned from his parents the qualities he always respected and lived by – hard work and integrity.
His father, Robert was a miner and his mother, Isabella, supplemented the family income by making and selling boiled sweets from her home.
The family were stalwarts of the Salvation Army.
Bob had joined the Territorial Lanarkshire Yeomanry calvary when he left school for the fun, camaraderie and adventure which were experienced on parade nights and at annual camps.
However, with the outbreak of WW2 this all changed when he and the others became full-time soldiers.
After training at Lanark, Bob and his fellow Gunners of the newly-formed 155th Field Regiment of the Royal Artillery, were sent to India in preparation for action in the North African Desert against Rommel’s Afrika Corps.
Then in August 1941, the Gunners were given a shock.
They were to be split up with Bob’s Battery, being sent to Quetta near the Afghan border and the other two Batteries dispatched to Malaya to bolster defences on the possibility of a Japanese attack.
This Japanese attack did happen and the Gunners who had been dispatched Malaya were eventually taken prisoner after the fall of Singapore, and sent to work on projects such as the infamous Burma Railway.
Bob endured his own hell after becoming part of the famed Chindits who carried operations deep into Japanese held Burma. Climbing over high mountains, through steaming, leach infested jungles and wading through deep, fast flowing rivers, the Chindits gained a fearsome reputation.
And his earlier life with the former Lanarkshire Yeomanry cavalry came in handy when controlling the contrary mules, the pack animals that carried weapons, radio equipment and food for the marauding warriors.
Eventually he was given a rest and returned to Britain where he instructed new recruits to the Royal Artillery.
It was on the training base in Wales that he met Agnes Kilday, a girl from West Calder then serving with the ATS.
After a whirlwind romance, they became engaged and in September 1945 were married in the West Kirk at West Calder.
The young couple initially set up home in Hamilton but Agnes pined for her family in West Calder so they moved back to the West Lothian area and settled in the village of Addiewell.
Bob followed his father’s occupation, and began work in Burngrange Pit before setting out on business on his own, first with a delivery van and then with a taxi business.
He ran the business until he was 74 years old.
The traits that he had learned at home in Hamilton – hard work and honesty – were in all his dealings and his was know for his thoughtfulness by stopping in his taxi to pick up neighbours and friends at no cost.
He was an amusing and easy-going man who enjoyed his garden and a chat with the neighbours. A true gentleman, Bob always put others first.
He will be missed by daughters Betty and Ella and all his family.