Wartime ending to Clydesdale lads’ friendship

Ralph (HMS Aurora) and Marilyn''''Image restoration by Lindsay Addison'Photographer'Carluke and Lanark Gazette
Ralph (HMS Aurora) and Marilyn''''Image restoration by Lindsay Addison'Photographer'Carluke and Lanark Gazette
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THE full bittersweet story of a friendship between two Clydesdale lads 70 years ago can now finally be told.

Back in January we set our readers what seemed to be an impossible historical mystery to solve by publishing obscure wartime photographs of a Royal Navy sailor and his ship which had unaccountably turned up in archives of a Carmichael family.

Ralph - HMS Aurora''Image restoration by Lindsay Addison'Photographer'Carluke and Lanark Gazette

Ralph - HMS Aurora''Image restoration by Lindsay Addison'Photographer'Carluke and Lanark Gazette

The photos were those left by Adam ‘Tootsie’ Williamson who died in action, serving with the Cameronians, in Italy in 1943.

His daughter, Bunty, recently found the two photos in the family collection and wondered how on earth her dad came to know this sailor, the only identification on the back being the name Ralph Hair, the fact that the picture was taken in Devonport in 1937 and the information that the name of his ship was HMS Aurora.

We discovered through our own research that HMS Aurora was a World War Two cruiser which survived the conflict, bizarrely going on to eventually serve in the Chinese Navy before being scrapped in 1960.

But of Ralph Hair’s fate – and his connection to Tootsie Williamson – we knew nothing.

Knowing just how much our readers relish a bit of a historical poser, we asked for your help and, as ever, you cracked it!

What we didn’t expect is for the answer to come from hundreds of miles away, across the border in Coventry!

That is the home of Ralph Hair’s niece, Marilyn Moore, who was alerted to our quest by a relative who lives locally. She revealed to us that Ralph and Tootsie were probably pals BEFORE the war, being brought up in local villages just a few miles from each other, Tootsie in Carmichael, Ralph in the now-vanished mining hamlet of Douglas West.