Scottish soldier and veteran of the Korean War

Born: August 6, 1931;

Died: March 22, 2019

ARCHIE Bathgate, who has died aged 87, was a career soldier and combat veteran who became one of the most highly respected senior non-commissioned officers in the Scottish Division.

Mr Bathgate spent almost four decades with the Royal Highland Fusiliers and served worldwide with the 1st Battalion (1RHF), having joined the new regiment shortly after it was raised.

He fought in the Korean War and was wounded in action in Malaya during previous service with the Royal Marines, before going on on to become a curator at the RHF regimental museum in Glasgow after retiring from active duty.

Mr Bathgate joined the regiment in 1960, following the previous year's amalgamation of the Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), which had been formed in 1881, with the Royal Scots Fusiliers, which had existed since 1678, to form the Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment). The RHF is now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

He was one of the last soldiers whose army career took him across the world to the remaining outposts of the British Empire. He served in Aden, Malta, Cyprus and Singapore, as well as spells in Germany with the British Army of the Rhine and tours of Northern Ireland.

In March 1971, while the battalion was stationed at Girdwood barracks in Belfast, it suffered one of its darkest days, made all the more unbearable because of the regiment's family traditions. Fusiliers Dougald McCaughey, 23, of Glasgow, with brothers John, 17, and Joseph McCaig, 23, from Ayr, were lured away from safety while off duty and murdered by the Provisional IRA.

The three had been granted an afternoon pass which allowed them to leave their base unarmed and in civilian clothes. One report said after leaving a Belfast pub they were enticed into a car by Republican women who promised a party. They were taken to White Brae, off the Ligoniel Road, and murdered in cold blood; two being shot in the back of the head and the other in the chest.

The "Three Jocks" killings of the young soldiers, who were unarmed and whose bodies were left piled on top of each other, caused public outrage, with the coroner stating: "You may think this was not only murder, but one of the vilest crimes ever heard of in living memory." As a battalion NCO, Mr Bathgate had mentored the victims, knew them personally and considered them family. Their deaths came as a bitter blow to him.

Archibald Bathgate was born on August 6, 1931, in the Gorbals, Glasgow, where relatives had lived for decades, the eldest son of Richard Bathgate and Mary Montgomery. His future wife and in-laws lived on the opposite side of Florence Street, formerly Rose Street.

He left school at 14 to start working life as an apprentice tinsmith and, in 1949, joined the Royal Marines aged 17. Two incidents would steer him back into the path of his wife to be. Firstly, his eight-year-old sister Hannah died tragically in a tenement fire, resulting in the surviving family moving to Priesthill. Then, in 1953, after fighting in the Korean War, Mr Bathgate was wounded in action by a white phosphorus grenade in Malaya.

The later stages of his rehabilitation took place in Cowglen Hospital, which was walking distance from the Bathgate family home but also that of their former Gorbals neighbours, the Hays. Betty Hay was a fellow patient at Cowglen in the final phase of her own recovery from a childhood racked by tuberculosis. They married in February 1954.

As well as service as a regimental policeman, Mr Bathgate was a weapons instructor and trained new recruits at Glencorse barracks near Penicuik, Midlothian, making them watch his young children complete the assault course and then telling them that was what they had to beat. Each squad became Bathgate's Commandos.

The battalion was in Singapore when Betty died suddenly of natural causes, leaving Mr Bathgate utterly bereft. For many years, Betty had run the wives club and her loss was felt deeply throughout the regiment. Her role had been integral to the efficiency and morale of the RHF and she had proved to be a rock to heartbroken families the previous year, following the murders of the three young soldiers.

Mr Bathgate was part of the regimental recruiting team and used to organise the fireworks displays at Glasgow Green and Bellahouston Park every year. He retired from active service in 1977 and became a civil servant and curator at the regimental museum in Sauchiehall Street, where he helped families trace histories and assisted former comrades in civilian life, until his final retirement in 1996, having spent 37 years' association with the RHF.

The family lived in Linwood, Renfrewshire, before Mr Bathgate moved to Kilwinning, Ayrshire, where he celebrated his 80th birthday at the Mother Lodge as a past master mason with Lodge HLI. Latterly, after his health deteriorated he moved to Caledonia care home in Saltcoats, which being close to the beach seemed a fitting final home for the former teenage Royal Marine.

Mr Bathgate is survived by two daughters Annemarie and Nanette, a son, also Archie, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.