Bank manager, wireless operator with Bomber Command and football club director;
Born: May 11, 1923; Died: January 15, 2013
Alan Lumsden, who has died at the age of 89, was well known in the business and sporting community in Montrose. Born and brought up in Huntly, he was educated at the Gordon Schools there, before joining the British Linen Bank in his hometown when he was 16.
At the age of 18, he was called up and joined the RAF and, after training at RAF Kinloss, joined 51 Squadron at RAF Snaith as a wireless operator, flying in Halifaxes and later Wellingtons. His first brush with death came during a training flight when a bomber flying above his released a bomb that dropped through the fuselage of his plane just in front of where he was sitting. The damaged plane was forced to land at a US bomber base where they were given a slap-up meal with a fried egg on top. The idea obviously appealed to Mr Lumsden as he often asked if he could have an egg on top of his main course when eating out.
Like most of his comrades, he was not a decorated hero, he simply got on with the job. He rarely spoke of the horrors of the bombing campaign, although he was aware of the carnage it wrought. Later, describing an attack on another target, he admitted to seeing Dresden ablaze in the far distance. Nevertheless, his philosophy was simple: "It was them or me."
His reluctance to discuss his service was also true during the early part of his time with Bomber Command. He had flown numerous sorties over Germany before his mother discovered that he was flying missions over enemy territory rather than, as he had led her to believe, sitting behind a desk.
While his prowess as a wireless operator might have been unchallenged, his navigational skills were less well developed, and his wife Winnie frequently remarked that if he had been a navigator we would almost certainly have lost the war.
After the war, he was posted to India for nine months before returning to the bank in Huntly. He was then transferred to Aberdeen, and then Kingussie before being moved in 1955 to Orkney where he met the young GP, Winifred (Winnie) McDonald, whom he married in 1957.
He then had a spell in St Andrews, followed by two years in Dunfermline, before moving to Montrose as manager in 1968. He retired on his 60th birthday from the Bank of Scotland, the British Linen having merged with that bank on Decimalisation Day 1971. .
A keen sportsman, he played cricket for Huntly and also enjoyed curling. He was a fine athlete too and success at the 100 yards at RAF Kinloss had him thinking about entering the New Year sprint at Powderhall, although the opportunity to participate never arose. He was also an accomplished pianist and organist and his skills on the keyboard were put to good use entertaining his RAF comrades during their leisure time.
His real loves though, other than his family, were golf and football. During his time in St Andrews he joined the New Golf Club and was awarded life membership in 2007, having been a member for 50 years. He continued his interest in the game after his move to Montrose where he joined the Royal Albert, later the Royal Montrose, Golf Club, and Edzell Golf Club.
He was co-opted on to the board of Montrose FC in 1977 and remained a director until 1990. Under manager Alex Stuart, Montrose had an excellent side in the 1970s, capable of competing with the best. Part of this success was down to a scouting system that produced a procession of fine young talent. Playing success and transfer fees meant that Montrose was then one of the most prosperous clubs in the country, a situation guaranteed to make any banker happy.
Despite all his other interests, he was disappointed that his deteriorating health meant he was never fit enough to travel to the Bomber Command Memorial in London after it was unveiled in June 2012.
He is survived by his wife Winnie, sons Roy and Robbie, and four grandchildren.
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