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Largs war veteran Jack’s surprise for Princess Anne

A 96 year old war veteran from Largs who was guest at the Queen’s Garden Party in Edinburgh, surprised Princess Anne after recalling when he met one of her ancestors! Jack Ransom is a colourful character, with an extraordinary zest for life, and even managed to raise royal eyebrows when he revealed that he had actually met her great grandmother in 1926. The Queen’s Garden Party at Holyroodhouse was a fantastic day, and Jack is pictured with his wife Maddie, by Largs photographer Kevin McGarry.

Jack said: “I hope that her 90s will be as good as mine! When I was 90 not only did I get to use a computer, but I wrote a book, and met Maddie of course!”

Although Jack didn’t get the opportunity to meet the Queen on this occasion, when he alerted the royal staff on the day that he was 96 year old former Prisoner of War, they made it possible for him to speak to Princess Anne for a few special minutes. Jack, who lives with Maddie in Cumbrae Court, behind Nardini’s, said: “There was well over 2000 people there, and of course, they were ten deep when the Queen walked out in yellow, you couldn’t get near to the front at all.

“We tried to meet the Queen at the end, but we walked out the wrong side, but as luck would have it, Princess Anne was just passing, and we asked one of the archers if we could get a word.”

Maddie added: “Jack introduced himself to the Princess, and told her that he met her great grandmother. Princess Anne had quite a puzzled look.

“Jack was a wee boy of around six year old an an open air school at Deptford, Peckham, and her great grandmother – Queen Mary – was the Patron of the school.

“Princess Anne asked what her great grandmother was wearing, and Jack responded that she was a very tall elegant woman, wearing a silk dress, hat, and a parasol. He said he had a reputation for talking too much, and was fearful that she might poke him with the parasol! Princess Anne laughed and said – ‘I might have done that too!’

Not only is Jack conversant with the worldwide web, and even has his own Twitter account, he has also written a book on his memoirs called ‘The Scottish Cockney’. An active member of the Royal British Legion Scotland branch, Jack is showing little sign of slowing down.

Jack s book provides memoirs of his life right up to the present day in Largs. Born in Peckham to working class parents, his youth was spent in Deptford and Greenwich. Signing up for the territorial army as merely a youth, Jack went on to survive ‘The Railway of Death’. The young soldier was caught in 1942 by the Japanese, and forced to march through Southeast Asia, pressed into forced labour on the Thai-Burma railway where he endured the horror of death of close comrades, and unbearable conditions which left him severely malnourished, and was even forced to eat charcoal in a bid to prevent dysentery. Working in forests in immense heat with little food or drink, he was only six stone at the end of the mission, and can still remember the relief upon hearing that the war was coming to an end. He barely had clothes to wear and instead wore a cloth around his waist as conditions were at an all time low.

And who would have believed in those days that Jack would be such a larger than life character, and enjoying all the spoils of a day at the Queen’s Garden Party in Edinburgh?

Jack added: “I told Princess Anne all about my book ‘The Scottish Cockney’ and she seemed very interested, and said that she would look it up!”

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