The Isle of Cumbrae recently said goodbye to one of its heroic old soldiers recently in David Stevenson, 96, who as a Prisoner of War during WW2, and was captured at Dunkirk.
He escaped FIVE times from the Nazis, and remarkably, was going to be shot by a German firing squad following a foiled sixth bid for freedom when the Americans rescued him at the very last gasp!
“On the sixth escape attempt during the fifth year, he was ready to escape but he got caught and was literally being taking out to a line to be shot with the other guys, but there was something not right, and he sensed it.
“He was right because the Americans were in at that point, an American soldier arrived and spread the word – and on their signal, all the P.O.Ws were to hit the floor. “My grandfather spread the word, the signal was given in English, and all the P.O.Ws reacted. All the Germans were all standing up and the Americans annihilated them. It was the beginning of the liberation, and the Americans ending the war. If that had not happened, my grandfather would have been shot.”
The veteran soldier passed on many incredible stories to his family including rescuing a teenage boy from a sticken escape vessel that tipped over after leaving Dunkirk, to a remarkable tale of a Millport solidier, who was unnamed by David, who escaped Dunkirk by sailing the English channel on a rowing boat, but was considered to be a deserter by island troops who remained and were subsequently captured by the evil Nazi regime.
David was born and bred in Millport and joined the Territorial Army as part of the 51st Lowland Division, and part of the light artillery anti-tank unit.
He was part of the rearguard action to protect the beaches at Dunkirk and fought with limited resources until they were out of ammunition and forced to surrender.
Grandson David said: “He went to war at the age of 24, he was one of 27 that left from Millport. ‘News’ photographer Walter Kerr was one of them as well of course. If my mind serves me right there were only 17 captured, the rest of them were deployed at other places. Rommel was in charge, and involved in the long walk in which they were marched through four countries. After the long walk, they were all split up, my grandfather never saw anyone from Millport for five years.
However, David recalled it was the guys on chain on the long walk who were the ‘baddies’ and would beat you up on the line, and if you collapsed they would not hesitate to just shoot you down and leave you at the side of the road.
David was separated from his Millport comrades for five years as he embarked upon a maverick journey of sabotage and escape from the terror of the prison camps.