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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Perth & Kinross

Search for families of Normandy 51st Highland Division heroes

April 26 2013

A Black Watch veteran has mounted a last-ditch effort to contact the families of soldiers who fell during a decisive battle of the Second World War. The men are to be honoured at a new monument in France next month and Dr Tom Renouf would like surviving relatives to play a part in the poignant unveiling ceremony. With Perth and Kinross, Dundee, Angus and Fife the traditional recruiting ground of the regiment, Dr Renouf thought an appeal through The Courier might bear fruit. “I am trying to contact the families of six Black Watch comrades who were killed on August 28/29 1944 in Normandy serving with the 5th Black Watch in the 51st Highland Division,” said Dr Renouf, who lives in Musselburgh. “I would like the families to know that a monument to honour the names of their wartime relatives killed on that date is being unveiled in Mauny, France, on June 1, the village near the Seine where they gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.” The soldiers being honoured are:Major Donald Mirrielees MC, 67799, killed aged 29 Sergeant Thomas Kirkcaldy, from Fife, 2759029, killed aged 26 Corporal Harry Chapman, 3325134, killed aged 31, son of George and Alice Chapman, Hull Corporal James O’Keefe, 2756230, killed aged 22, son of Florence Beatrice O’Keefe Private Harry Billington, 14435148, killed aged 19, son of Henry and Emelia Billington, Bromborough, Cheshire Private George Hildred, 14433352, killed aged 18, son of Laurence and Alice Hildred, York.Dr Renouf added: “I was wounded on the same day as my six comrades were killed and I have been invited by the Mayor of Mauny to unveil the monument but the ceremony would be greatly enriched if any of the families could attend the unveiling. “My fear is that these families never get to know that their heroic war casualty has been paid the tribute he deserves by strangers who realise the debt that they owe him. “The tragedy of losing a loved one in the war brought untold grief to the families, all the harder to bear when the fate of their loved one was unknown and there was no formal recognition of their sacrifice. “It is a great consolation to the families of our Black Watch comrades to know that after all these years, their names are to be honoured.” He added: “Trying to contact families after 70 years when little is known of their whereabouts is a mission impossible without the help of others. “To date, I have made contact with two families, who were overjoyed to hear about the memorial and who have arranged for grandchildren to attend the ceremony.” Dr Renouf can be contacted on 0131 665 3274 or at beejaycory@gmail.com.


51st Highland Division’s role in liberating France

January 16 2011

Those who attended the latest in the winter lecture series at The Black Watch Museum were regaled with the tale of the 51st Highland Division's 'Battle for France'. A group synonymous with Perth, the 51st featured many local Black Watch troops and was used to slow the advance of German troops as the British Expeditionary Force made its escape at Dunkirk in 1940. Following a 10-day battle they were rounded up and captured at the Normandy fishing village of St Valery en Caux and placed in prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland. The reformed division, however, returned to France four years later to play a key role in its liberation. The lecture, by Ruari Halford-MacLeod, referred specifically to the reminiscences of wireless operator George Arnott of Crieff and Tom Renouf from Musselburgh. Later lectures will focus on the Indian Mutiny on February 9 and The Black Watch in Korea on March 9.

Perth & Kinross

Bronze Perth piper is lasting tribute to Scots war heroes

June 22 2017

A poignant memorial to Highland war heroes has been unveiled in Perth. The larger-than-life bronze piper was created to honour the tens of thousands of soldiers from the 51st Highland Division. It was officially unveiled in the grounds of Balhousie Castle - home to the Black Watch museum - at a ceremony on Wednesday. The piper in World War Two battledress was sculpted by well-known artist Alan Herriot. It was the idea of Mr Herriot's close friend, Black Watch veteran Dr Tom Renouf, who died last year. For many years, Tom worked to ensure the achievements of the infantry division were not forgotten. He was involved in the creation of monuments in France and Holland, as well as at North Inch in Perth and the House of Bruar in Highland Perthshire. Mr Herriot said: "I have created a number of memorials in Scotland and abroad, all dedicated to the memory of those who served in the division. "The memorial at Balhousie Castle may well be the last, but I consider it to be my personal tribute to the 51st Highland Division and my friend Dr Tom Renouf." As a fighting formation, the 51st Highland Division served during both world wars. The division was formed by the bringing together of the kilted Highland infantry regiments including the Black Watch, Cameron Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders, Gordon Highlanders and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Anne Kinnes, chief executive of the Black Watch Castle and Museum said: "We are delighted to have this magnificent statue in the grounds of Balhousie Castle for our many visitors to enjoy." Lieutenant Colonel Grenville Johnston served in the division after World War Two and is now a member 51st Highland Division trustee. He said: "Today there are a series of magnificent memorials that stand as a testament to the courage of the men of the 51st Highland Division who fought for our freedom. "I am particularly proud that this statue has been unveiled in Perth." Mr Herriot worked on a clay model of the piper at his studio in Edinburgh. It was later cast at the city's Powderhall Bronze Foundry.


Newspaper archive contains answer to Dundee tank mystery

January 8 2015

The mystery surrounding a tank gifted to Dundee at the end of the First World War has been solved, thanks to a chance find in a newspaper archive. Perthshire historian Mike Taylor had been trying for years to find out the history of the Mk IV fighting machine, without success. The vehicle was one of dozens gifted to communities across the country at the end of the conflict to thank them for raising money for the National War Savings Appeals. Many were scrapped several years later, and today only one remains at Ashford, Kent. The Dundee tank arrived in the city in August 1919 and was towed to Dudhope Park, where it remained until it was scrapped in 1930. Its battlefield past was lost until Mr Taylor found a key piece of evidence in a contemporary article in the Evening Telegraph. Mr Taylor said: “Nothing was known of the tank’s wartime history, but I found an old article about the tank’s arrival that mentions its serial number the key to unlocking its history. “With the serial number it was possible for tank historian Gwyn Evans to trace its history in the records. The tank was one of only 50 built in Scotland by the Glasgow firm of Mirrlees Watson. “In 1917, as part of D battalion of the Tank Corps, it was commanded by a Second Lieutenant J McNiven and was knocked out by a direct hit at the battle of Cambrai on November 20 during the attack by the 51st (Highland) Division on the village of Flesquieres.” Anyone with more photographs of the tank can contact Mr Taylor via The Courier on 01382 575862.


Former firefighters raise thousands from Euro hike

October 9 2014

A group of ex-firefighters from Dundee have just completed a mammoth 100-plus-mile hike to commemorate those who died in both world wars, while raising funds to help those suffering from cancer. Following the route taken by the 51st Highland Division in the Second World War, the HD Hike took the seven former firefighters through various sites in France, Belgium and Germany, from St-Valery-en-Caux in France to Goch in Germany. Trip spokesman Jim Malone said it was an emotional trip, raising close to their £5,000 target for their chosen charities, with more donations to come. He said: “We visited relevant sites on our 102-mile hike from the site of the division’s heartbreaking surrender at St Valery and from its battles from sword beach to its final battle honour of the war at Goch. “We included, to commemorate our ancestors’ sacrifices in the First World War, visits to battle sites in cemeteries atLoos, Aubers Ridge, Vimy Ridge and Ypres.” To commemorate the sacrifice of the 51st Highland Division on June 12 1940, Jim and his colleagues visited the cemetery, memorial and the church at St Valery, which has a stained glass homage to the 51st. They were also in Loos on the 99th anniversary of the First World War battle. Throughout the trip, the firefighters wore T-shirts to reflect the three different charities they were raising funds for, plus their own special HD Hike T-shirts. The 51st (Highland) Division was aBritish territorial force division that fought on the Western Front in France during the First World War before their exploits during the second great conflict. Jim went on: “Last year we, the retired firefighters, decided to make a positive contribution in the fight against cancer. “Our ex-colleague Doug Gall had developed the disease and we took on Hadrian’s Wall in September 2013. We raised over £3,000 for Maggie’s and the Bobby Robson Foundation, as Doug worked in a fire safety role in Newcastle, hence the link. “We then held a fundraising dance in June this year to raise funds for the Bone Cancer Research Trust and Maggie’s. We raised £1,000 on the night. “The Highland Division Hike was planned as homage to the fallen from both world wars. “Three of our fathers fought with the division in the Second World War. Doug’s father actually escaped the surrender of the division at St-Valery-en-Caux. “We visited sites of battle and remembrance during our hike, places where Dundee’s own fought and died in the fight against militarism and fascism, including Goch, where my father fought and was wounded in February 1945.” Jim added: “The target of raising £5,000 for our chosen charities is within reach. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/Jim-Malone3.”

Readers' letters

March 31: No wonder voters think politicians are a ‘parcel of rogues’

March 31 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I know it isn't April Fool's Day yet, but nobody seems to have told my local branch of those consummate chameleons, the Liberal Democrats. The other day they delivered a leaflet to my home headlined 'NE Fife Lib Dems fight to protect local services', which in its contents boasts of their success in winning more council house building in the area. This, we are told, involves 22 new homes in Ladybank and eight in Crail with the Lib Dems apparently claiming this as a major success. However according to figures from Shelter there are over 10,000 households on Fife waiting lists, which rather put this "success" into context. Of course the truth is that far from the anti-cuts party they pretend to be the Lib Dems are partners in crime with the London coalition with the Tories who are making the cuts. And here in Fife they are in coalition with the SNP whose Edinburgh government wring their hands about London cuts and then make them. Meanwhile New Labour huff and puff but admit they too would make service and job cuts. Perhaps they should all drop the spin and try telling voters the truth for a change. No wonder voters think them, as Burns said, "A parcel of rogues in a nation". Ken Ferguson.High Street,Newburgh. A defeat, not a miracle Sir, - According to Margaret Borland the miracle of Dunkirk was most definitely down to the men of 51st Highland Division. If that were so, what were the rest of the British Army divisions doing? The 51st Highland Division only consisted of about 20,000 or 25,000 men. One would need to be very nave to believe that the 51st Highland Division held back the German armed forces in France for any length of time with such a small force. The French army itself could not hold back the German army, which is why France surrendered. It is ludicrous, therefore, to claim that the 51st Highland Division held back the German armed forces on its own to save the British Army at Dunkirk. Dunkirk was a defeat, not a miracle. Churchill himself knew that. Ron Smith.14 Reid Street,Dundee. Figment of the imagination Sir, - G M Lindsay of Kinross is right to be sceptical about the existence of experimental evidence backing up minimum pricing of alcohol (On what basis?, March 16). Like the actual units of alcohol themselves there seems to be no evidence to sustain the claims made for minimum pricing. I have repeatedly asked medical professionals to point me in the direction of the experimental evidence backing up the claims made for alcohol unit limits and have signally failed. Similarly, nobody has been able to show me what basis the units of alcohol themselves were derived from. It seems the units themselves and the recommended limits were figures just plucked from the air by some "expert". Thus, I suspect that, as with minimum pricing, recommended units of alcohol are a figment of the imagination, and nothing more than a fashionable politically correct stunt. (Capt) Ian F. McRae.17 Broomwell Gardens,Monikie. Annoying adverts Sir, - There are adverts on the TV that are amusing and enjoyable even when viewed for the umpteenth time. Then there are those which were great when seen for the first time but very soon pall and become irritating. There is one, which encourages me to compare insurance companies, that has become the main reason for the fast-forward button on my remote wearing out prematurely. But the ads that make me apoplectic are those that proclaim the fantastic broadband speeds coming our way. Over 20MB will soon be commonplace, we're told, allowing a complete movie to be downloaded in just a few minutes. I live out of town and pay over £20 per month to BT for which I get half of one megabyte! A two-minute news video clip takes over six minutes to stutter its way through. There are tens of thousands of us who have no chance of cable or fibre optic connections and feel totally neglected by BT, Virgin et al. I just wish their adverts would go away and stop rubbing it in. Anyway, they are only highlighting their own rural neglect. Ken Greenaway.Culross House,Torr of Kedlock,Cupar. Largest pension increase ever Sir, - John Thomson's letter in Wednesday's Courier saying the Conservative budget had cut OAPs' pensions could not have been more wrong. This week the pension rises by £5.30 a week. This is the largest ever increase in the history of the state pension. Perhaps he was meaning the so-called 'granny tax'. This was a reduction in tax free allowances for retired people with annual earnings over £10,800. The Institute of Fiscal Studies said that from 2014, on average, pensioners will lose one quarter of 1% of projected earnings hardly highway robbery. Stewart Whyte.25 Crombie Acres,Westhill, Aberdeenshire. Make a note, Mr Cameron Sir, - The French President Sarkozy was trailing the opposition in his quest to be re-elected for another term. He then transformed his chances with a rousing speech on immigration and immediately shot ahead in the opinion polls. He declared: "We do not want immigration that is driven by the desire to come here for our welfare benefits". All David Cameron needs to add to that is: "...and our NHS, education, social housing and unlimited child benefits". He could then call a snap election, ditch the un-cooperative Liberals, and have a clear majority in Parliament. Clark Cross.Linlithgow. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

Perth & Kinross

Flag raised in Perth for Armed Forces Day

June 20 2016

Armed Forces Day was marked in Perth with a special ceremony when a flag was raised in honour of servicemen and women past and present. Councillors and senior council officials and representatives from the armed forces and veterans’ associations attended at the North Inch on Monday beside the 51st Highland Memorial. Also marking the occasion were Brigadier Melville Jameson, the Lord Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross, and Provost Liz Grant. “The strength of our local links with the armed forces is well known, and Armed Forces Day gives us an opportunity to honour the commitment, service and sacrifice that servicemen and women have made and continue to make for us," said Provost Grant. The Reverend John Murdoch of St John's Kirk and St Leonard's-in-the-Fields in Perth spoke and led a short prayer before the flag was raised. Watching the ceremony was 51st Highland Division veteran Gerald Kerrigan, 97,  from Scone. He joined the 51st Highland Division as a driver in May 1939, and was among the survivors of the retreat from Dunkirk. He then saw service at El Alamein, and in Tunisia and Sicily.


Talk on Perthshire soldiers’ stand at St Valery en Caux

January 7 2011

The sacrifices made by legendary Scottish troops during one of the most desperate periods of the second world war will be recounted in the next of a series of winter lectures, to take place next week. The 51st Highland Division's Battle for France was one of the defining moments in the war and in Perth culture because of the number of locals who took part. The 51st was left behind in France to cover the escape of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in 1940. Their role was to slow the German advance westwards and demonstrate to conquered France that Britain would not abandon its ally. A ferocious 10-day battle ensued at the Normandy fishing village of St Valery en Caux with overwhelmingly superior German forces led by Rommel. Eventually pinned against the sea with poor weather ending any hope of escape and German artillery firing on them from two sides, the troops, including members of The Black Watch from Tayside, Gordon Highlanders and Seaforths, were forced to surrender on June 12. Around 600 British troops died and the captured troops were forced to march to prisoner of war camps in Germany and Poland. Far from decimating the 51st, the division was reformed and went on to play a major role in a key turning point in the war, El Alamein, the invasion of Sicily and the D-Day landings. The Museum Of The Black Watch will host a lecture by Ruari Halford-MacLeod, in its winter series on Wednesday at 1.30pm, referring mainly to the memories of wireless operator George Arnott of Crieff and Tom Renouf of Musselburgh. There is a lecture on the Indian Mutiny on February 9 and The Black Watch in Korea on March 9.

Readers' letters

July 1: State pension should rise to 25% of earnings

July 1 2010

The state pension continues to be an issue on the minds of correspondents to The Courier, while VAT, immigration and the need to remember Britain's military veterans are also discussed. State pension should rise to 25% of earnings Sir,-As chairman of Dundee Pensioners' Forum, I wish to disassociate our forum from any of those who are supportive of the budget which can, at best, be described as regressive and hitting vulnerable groups on fixed incomes such as pensioners. The Government have stated that pensions will rise in line with average earnings, a link the Tories broke in the 1980s. When the state pension was introduced in 1909, it was set at five shillings a week, which represented 25% of average earnings, while the present state pension is less than 15% of average earnings. As a pensioners' forum, we demand that the buying power of the UK's state pension should be restored to 25% of the average earnings in 2010, which would raise the state pension for a single person to £173 per week, opposed to the current £97.65. Jim McAulay.Chairman,Dundee Pensioners'Forum,156 Findhorn Street,Dundee. UK's older people betrayed Sir,-Pensioners have waited nearly 30 years for the link between pensions and average earnings to be restored in the United Kingdom. Research has shown that, over these three decades, we have lost out by nearly an extra £60 per week on our pensions. In 1997, when New Labour came to power, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown promised to end pension poverty in their first year. The result was a 75p increase on pensions. This was a disgraceful way to treat people who defended our country in its time of need. We have the lowest pensions in the western world and, as Jim Parker observed (June 28) we can only reverse this position through political intervention. Jack Stewart.National Pensioners' Convention.35 Potterhill Flats,Perth. VAT rise won't hurt Sir,-While 2.5% on VAT is an increase of 14% on the current rate of 17.5%, a lot of nonsense is spouted about it costing every family about £400 per year. An extra £400 would arise only for families spending around £16,000 on items liable for the full VAT rate. As mortgage interest, rent, council tax, insurance, TV licences, books, newspapers, prescriptions, dental fees, domestic travel, most food, utilities and children's clothes are VAT free, or not subject to the full rate, families able to spend £16,000 per year (after income tax & NIC) on everything else cannot be considered as deprived. The extra VAT on a new fridge or washing machine costing £400 would be only £8.51, or on a car costing £10,000 would be £213, hardly deal breakers and, as many are now made abroad, might well be offset by the stronger pound. However, it would be more sensible with a few years' transition, to charge VAT on most of the above exclusions, enabling the rate to fall to 15% and to treat us as adults capable of deciding our own patterns of expenditure. John Birkett.12 Horseleys Park,St Andrews. Cameron right to limit immigration Sir,-This new Government does not hang around and deliberate for 13 years but acts. Firstly, a strict limit on non-EU work permits. Then they drastically reduced housing benefit so that those with large families will no longer live in luxury and have us pay the huge rents but will have to move to more modest accommodation. Now we hear that immigrant workers will be forced to have private health care. This is long overdue and is designed to prevent yet further strain on the health service. A Migrationwatch report showed that in 2007/2008, more than 600,000 migrants registered with a GP. Unsustainable. Next on the hit list? A curb on the pregnant women who fly in to Heathrow and have their babies on the NHS. Then, of course, those with serious illnesses who present themselves at accident and emergency for free treatment. Then the foreigners with illnesses who have relatives here and give that address to receive free treatment. The 270,000 student visas is yet another scam? This Government is quickly acting in the interests of the British people. Clark Cross.138 Springfield Road,Linlithgow. Remember 51st Division Sir,-I was grateful to read your article on St Valery. I have long felt that the bravery shown there deserved more mention in the media. That rearguard action helped to keep the Germans back long enough to clear the beaches at Dunkirk. However, a few were rescued after scaling down the cliffs using their rifle slings to help them. This is where I think the Royal Navy deserves a mention because they sailed in, under the German guns, to pick up survivors. I don't know how many were rescued but my brothers Tam and Ron, Fred Cosans and Tom Henderson, a well-known builder from Arbroath, were eternally grateful the navy was there to help them. With grateful thanks to the 51st Highland Division. William Gibb.Scottish Veterans' Residence,Rosendael,3 Victoria Road,Broughty Ferry.