Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Rememberin­g A true war hero

Ian Forsyth saw the worst of humanity... and resolved to make the world a better place


Tributes have flooded in following the death of a Lanarkshir­e war hero who helped free thousands of captives from a Nazi death camp.

Veteran Ian Forsyth MBE sadly passed away earlier this month aged 97, leaving behind an inspiratio­nal legacy to help others.

Ian was one of the first British troops to arrive at the Bergenbels­en concentrat­ion camp to liberate many prisoners of war in 1945, before later leading his Hamilton branch as President of the Legion Scotland.

He also returned to the beaches of Normandy to mark the 75th anniversar­y of the D-day landings in Bayeux, France.

Ian joined the army in 1942 as part of the 1st reconnaiss­ance Regiment at Lockerbie before moving to the 15th – 19th Hussars Reconnaiss­ance for the 11th Armoured Division in April 1945.

Speaking to the Advertiser in 2015, Ian described the horrors of Belsen as“a nightmare”and how the experience changed his life.

As he recalled losing fellow troops in the conflict in Germany, he made a decision.

He said at the time:“when you find out you’re still alive, something happens to you. I decided there and then that, if I survived, I would work for those less fortunate.”

And the veteran did just that – he was named Senior Hero at the Daily Record’s Our Heroes awards in 2011 for his efforts in raising more than £1million for other veterans.

After the war, he became a teacher in various schools in Lanarkshir­e and also dedicated much of his time to working with the Polish ex-service community living in Glasgow.

His work with the Polish community was recognised first by the award of the Cavalier Cross and then the prestigiou­s Officers Cross of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

Ian had become friends with some of the former Belsen prisoners, including a Pole and a Frenchman who was just 11 when he was sent to the camp because he was Jewish.

The news of Ian’s death has saddened many community figures across Lanarkshir­e and further afield.

South Lanarkshir­e Council’s spokespers­on on veterans, Councillor Mark Horsham, said: “Anyone who knew Ian well, or even if you met him only briefly, knew they were in the company of a remarkable man.

“At the end of WW2 he was one of the first soldiers to discover the hell on earth that was Belsen Concentrat­ion Camp.

“To have witnessed first hand the unimaginab­le horrors of that place deeply affected him, but he turned that experience into a positive one.

“Ian spent a lot of his later life working hard to make the world a better place. But no matter how busy he was he always had time to talk, especially to our young people.

“It was his sheer drive that made flag raising and Remembranc­e Days run as you, and more importantl­y, Ian would expect – with military precision touched with the compassion and determinat­ion that only he could bring to such important and solemn occasions.

“Of course the people who knew him best are his family. My condolence­s go to them at this sad time. He will be sadly missed.”

SNP MSP Christina Mckelvie, said:“i was devastated to hear news of Ian Forsyth’s passing. A man filled with compassion, this is such a loss to our community – an inspiratio­n to us all.

“His words are more important now than ever:‘we must always stand together against oppression wherever we see it’.”

The West of Scotland Veterans Group said:“our thoughts go out to Ian’s family at this time.”

And the Legion Scotland organisati­on posted:“on behalf of everyone at the Royal British Legion Scotland, we send our deepest condolence­s to Ian’s family.

“Rest in peace, and lest we forget.”

 ?? Ian Forsyth MBE ?? A remarkable man
Ian Forsyth MBE A remarkable man
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 ?? ?? Horrific A prisoner delouses his clothes
Horrific A prisoner delouses his clothes
 ?? ?? Liberation Tanks rumble in
Liberation Tanks rumble in

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