It is one of the oldest armed forces charities and has been helping servicemen and their families for more than 130 years.

Now on the eve of the 75th anniversary of Victory in Japan, which brought about the end of the Second World War, those who served their country are still at the heart of everything they do.

Tomorrow the Soldiers', Sailors' & Airmen's Families Association will present hamper gifts to Second World War veterans in the west of Scotland as a special thank you. They appealed for veterans or families to come forward in the run up to the anniversary.

One of those who will be getting a gift is 95-year-old Albert Skinner who was served in Europe and the Far East.

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Paisley-born Mr Skinner, who now lives in Cardonald, in the south of Glasgow, had been studying to be a teacher at the University of Glasgow when he was called up at the age of 18 in 1943.

He was a signalman in the 43rd Wessex Division and involved in reconnaissance operations.

“I had been in Europe and deployed to Normandy a couple of weeks after the D Day landings. Not everyone went over for the invasion and strength was gradually built up,” said Mr Skinner.

“It was an interesting time and life in an infantry division was certainly dangerous. In February of 1945 I found myself being sent to the Far East and was in Bombay when VJ Day was announced. I remember there was fireworks and everyone celebrating. I was glad as well as the plan was we were to be sent to invade Malaya.”

Although the war had ended, Mr Skinner did not return for some time and was sent to Singapore before sailing back to the UK from there. However, he was demobbed sooner than planned.

He added: “I had been due to come home in March 1947, but as I was studying at university and got to come home on what was called a class B release. So I was able to return in 1946 and take up my place at university again. I still remember my demob number, it was 53.”

Read more: VJ Day Remembered: Edinburgh woman reveals story of being a war camp baby

Mr Skinner taught in several schools and went to be headmaster at Clydebank High School. Married to Anita, they have four children, nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.

It was his wife Anita who saw The Herald article on the SSAFA appeal to say thank you to veterans.

Mr Skinner added: “It is very nice to remembered like this. There are not many of us Second World War veterans left. It is the first time something seems to be done around VJ Day as normally it is VE Day that is marked. However, that wasn’t the end of the war for us we were still fighting in the Far East until August.”

Fellow veteran William McHugh will also be receiving a hamper tomorrow from the charity.

The 96-year-old, who was serving in the RAF, has vivid memories of transporting liberated prisoners of war from Singapore to Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon.

“I don’t remember much about VJ Day itself, but what stuck in my mind was how terrible the freed British prisoners looked,” said Mr McHugh. “After the war had finished we ferried back a number of prisoners. I must have done the trip four or five times.

“It was awful to see. These were men who would have been about 12 to 14 stone normally but when when we picked them up they couldn’t have been much more than five or six stone. They were very malnourished.

“We were told we could only give them a cup of tea, a digestive biscuit and a cigarette. They were not allowed any solids as their stomachs would not have been able to take it. We got them to Ceylon and after that we didn’t hear anymore.”

Mr McHugh, from Eaglesham, began his RAF training in December 1942 and became a wireless air gunner. He was deployed to the Far East in 1945 and spent most of the time stationed in Sri Lanka.

He added: “I remembered being home on leave when we were told we were heading out to the Far East so that was us – we knew we had a job to do. We used to go to Columbo on leave and stayed at an air crew compound on the Bristol Hotel. I remember it had an indoor swimming pool. There was 10 of us in our crew – five Scots and five English so you can imagine what that was like. However, we all got on. We had to.”

Mr McHugh, who went on to be a rotary press operator with DC Thomson after the war, found out about the charity’s offer to veterans and got in touch.

He said: “A golfing friend of mine told me SSAFA were looking for veterans, so I got in touch. It is very nice of them to think of us.”

A spokesman for SSAFA, said: “The Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown has been a really difficult time for many, especially our veterans.

We wanted to make sure they received the recognition they deserved on what is likely to be the last occasion to acknowledge their service.”