Lawyer and soldier;
Born: December 25, 1921; Died: May 21, 2012.
Thomas Aitchison, who has died aged 90, was a procurator fiscal whose vast jurisdiction ranged across tracts of Scotland's wildest landscape and encompassed some of the Highlands' most intriguing cases.
He was involved in investigations into the mysterious disappearance of an Inverness mother and son, the death of a leading SNP activist and the case of a notorious serial killer.
But before embarking on a legal career he served his country during the Second World War and became a bodyguard to one of the best-known figures of the era, Lieutenant General, later Field Marshal, Montgomery.
Born in Kuantan, Malaysia, he was the son of civil engineer James Aitchison and his wife Agnes, and spent his early childhood in the Far East before being sent to Scotland to be schooled, aged eight.
He was educated in Melrose and then Edinburgh Academy, moving to Bute when his father retired to his home island in the 1930s. Still only 17 when Britain declared war with Germany, he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and found himself guarding Glasgow docks as a young sentry.
He went on to serve as a tank radio operator, with the 44th Royal Tank Regiment in the 8th Army, commanded by Montgomery, in the Western Desert and saw action at the scene of Monty's greatest victory, the Battle of El Alamein.
Young Aitchison had arrived in north Africa in 1941 and spent two years fighting the Italians and Rommel's Afrika Korps. After being involved in the 1943 invasion of Sicily, he advanced up Italy's east coast but contracted malaria and was invalided out. When he later returned to duty, some time before D-Day, it was as one of the bodyguards of the then Lieutenant General Montgomery, the mastermind behind Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
Mr Aitchison landed on the French coast on D-Day Plus One and served with Montgomery in various campaigns including the Ardennes Offensive, also known as the Battle of the Bulge, ending his military career in the Army of Occupation in Germany.
After the war he took advantage of a fast-track legal degree scheme for ex-servicemen and studied law at Edinburgh University, marrying his wife Margaret, whom he had first met at a children's party on Bute, in 1949.
He set up his first private practice in Rothesay, followed by another in Glasgow, before joining the Fiscal Service. He served as depute fiscal in Perth for a decade, moving to the post of procurator fiscal in Dingwall in 1961. He settled in Strathpeffer and remained at Dingwall for 20 years, a period he said was the happiest of his professional life.
At times he was also responsible for Ross and Cromarty and Sutherland and was fond of saying that he had the largest area of any fiscal in Scotland but with the least number of people and the most sheep.
He later transferred to Inverness, where he spent his last few working years, retiring in the mid 1980s.
It was a career that had given him great satisfaction and during his time in the north he was faced with some of the biggest cases the area had seen, including the region's first major drugs raid.
He inherited the investigation into the disappearance of Inverness mother Renee MacRae and her three-year-old son Andrew, who were last seen on November 12, 1976. Later that night her burned-out car was found on the A9 but, despite extensive inquiries down the years, neither the boy nor his mother have been found. It remains one of the Highlands' most disturbing unsolved cases.
In the late 1970s he was also involved in the case of the Partick-born butler and serial killer Archibald Hall, also known as Roy Fontaine, who murdered his employer, the ex-MP Walter Scott-Elliot, and left his body in a shallow grave near Tomich, Inverness-shire. Mr Scott-Elliot's wife Dorothy also died and, although Hall denied her murder, he disposed of her body in Perthshire. The butler's other victims were a former male lover David Wright, a girlfriend and accomplice Mary Coggle and his own half-brother Donald. Hall received four life sentences.
Another high-profile case was the death in 1985 of SNP activist and Glasgow lawyer Willie MacRae. The 61-year-old was found in his crashed car, on the A87 Kyle of Lochalsh to Invergarry Road, with a bullet wound to his temple. He had been en route to his holiday home in Dornie and died the following day, prompting speculation over whether his death was suicide or murder.
Latterly Mr Aitchison lived near Muir of Ord and spent his retirement planting trees, playing golf and watching all sorts of sport. He also enjoyed travelling, particularly cruising, and hosting the occasional party, with his annual hair of the dog bash on January 2 not to be missed.
A fun-loving and contented person, Mr Aitchison is remembered as a gentleman of great humour and humility. Widowed two years ago, he is survived by his children Stewart and Mairi and five grandchildren.
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