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Carnoustie remembers town hero Andy Coogan as part of VJ Day anniversary commemoration

Lord Provost of Angus Ronnie Proctor at VJ commemoration ceremony in Carnoustie.
Lord Provost of Angus Ronnie Proctor at VJ commemoration ceremony in Carnoustie.

Angus VJ commemorations had a particular poignancy for the daughters of war hero author Andy Coogan BEM, who were part of the 75th anniversary event at Carnoustie war memorial.

Jean Heather and Christine Hoy joined the socially-distanced ceremony at the High Street monument, led by Carnoustie Legion president Mike Blair on an anniversary close to his heart as his uncle was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese during World War Two.

The same fate befell Mr Coogan, who was Glasgow-born but developed a love of the Angus links town and lived there until his death in 2017, just days before his 100th birthday.

VJ Day Commemorations in Carnoustie

Regarded as one of Scotland’s brightest young athletes, Andy’s dream of competing in the 1948 London Olympics in London was shattered with the outbreak of war.

After being posted to India, he fought in the Malayan campaign and was taken prisoner by the Japanese in Singapore in 1941, aged 24.

He survived almost four years in captivity but returned from war weighing just six and a half stone and was never able to compete at the highest level again.

However, he continued to run, winning a silver medal at the British Veterans’ Athletic Championship in his seventies.

Part of the VJ Day commemoration in Montrose

The great-uncle of Scots cycling star, Sir Chris Hoy, Mr Coogan’s Japanese POW camp memoirs Tomorrow You Die, was published in 2012.

He was a stalwart of Carnoustie Legion, where the club bar is named after him.

Mrs Heather, from Newbigging, said it was an honour to have been invited to attend the commemoration.

“I think for him, it would be to be representing everyone who didn’t come back, and also appreciation for the Legion and everything they do.

“He had seen the best and worst of humanity and I just feel so fortunate that he lived so long and so happily. He was still telling stories that we hadn’t heard right up until he passed away,” she added.

Arbroath Pipe Band Pipe Major Ryan Kennedy played at the ceremony, and the trumpeter was Carnoustie High School pupil Iona MacFarlane.

Among wreaths laid were those by Angus Lord Lieutenant, Mrs Pat Sawers and Provost Ronnie Proctor on behalf of Angus Council.

Meanwhile, Poppy Scotland Montrose marked the anniversary with a synchronised sounding of air raid sirens.

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