John McOwan hails from the Scottish Borders where he recently celebrated his 102nd Birthday at home in Peebles. The photo shows John reading his birthday card message from Colonel REME and the REME Family, kindly delivered by fellow REME Veteran Major Pat Spence.
A former jeweller, John initially joined the Territorial Royal Artillery in 1938, and, whilst preparing to deploy to Salisbury Plain for training, instead found himself mobilised to the Firth of Forth in a Coastal Defence role. He was soon transferred to the ROAC and then on to Aldershot where he undertook and passed his Class 1 assessment as an Instrument Technician. A posting to Cairo followed, where he then joined REME at its foundation in 1942, before attachment to General Montgomery’s Desert Rats at El Alamein. In 1943 John was assigned to the American 5th Army in Salerno, Italy before returning to the United Kingdom to join troops deployed to sealed camps in order to maintain secrecy around the plans for the D-Day invasion. Then, in 1944, he landed at Gold Beach and served in Normandy during its invasion, later being stationed at Eindhoven during the Battle of the Bulge and on to Germany before the subsequent surrender of the German armed forces. At the end of the war, John returned home to Peebles and his former occupation as a jeweller. More recently, the French government has awarded John the Legion d’Honneur and appointed him in the rank of Chevalier (Knight).
The entire Corps of REME is grateful to John for his dedicated service and we are very proud to have him as part of our REME Family.
Scribe: Maj (Retd) Geordie Wright-Rivers REME Association
This article will appear in the May 2023 issue of The Craftsman
Contact Major (Retired) Geordie Wright-Rivers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07590848766.
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