NOT much more than five foot four inches tall, he was about average for someone born in the Gorbals district of Glasgow in 1919.

In the years immediately after “The Great War”, the second city of the Empire was a dark, dirty, often violent city but not unlike many other cities of that size at that time.

Glasgow was home to a million people and, like many of its citizens before him, this “wee man” was to become a hero.

Fast forward to 1945, he, and many fellow Scots – plus the many others from all over the world at that time – were doing their part to save the free world from the horrors of Hitler and his Nazi ideals.

The Wee Man had joined the Royal Corps of Signals and the war was to take him to many countries as he played his part in the eventual victory over Nazism. He travelled to England, Egypt, North Africa, central Europe but it was while he was in Italy that his courage, gallantry and distinguished acts of bravery would be recognised.

In the north of Italy, a major battle raged. The place was Senio.

In the spring of 1945 there was an offensive in Italy, codenamed Operation Grapeshot. That was to be the final Allied attack during the Italian campaign in those final stages of the Second World War.

The attack into the Lombardy Plain by the 15th Allied Army Group started on April 6, 1945, ending on May 2 with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.

The build-up to the main assault started on April 6 with a heavy artillery bombardment of the Senio defences. In the early afternoon of April 9, 825 heavy bombers dropped fragmentation bombs on the support zone behind the Senio River followed by medium and fighter bombers. From 15:20 to 19:10 hours, five heavy artillery barrages were fired, each lasting 30 minutes, interspersed with fighter bomber attacks.

It was during these heavy artillery attacks that the wee Glasgow man played his part.

On the night of April 9, the communication lines from Regimental HQ connecting two of the forward batteries were cut in five places by shell fire. The line party dispatched to mend the breaks was led by a sergeant. Four of the line breaks were mended and on the way to the fifth break the shelling was so intense that the party had to take cover in a ditch. Led by the sergeant, they crawled up the ditch, found the break and mended it.

By this time the line was cut in two more places behind them. They were mended under shell fire which was accurate and persistent. The maintenance of these essential communication lines greatly facilitated the passage of vital fire orders to the guns and directly contributed to the success of the counter-battery plan.

This sergeant’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel JE Spedding, commanding the 61 Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, made this comment: “Throughout this and later operations, this sergeant has shown fine leadership, resource and courage in carrying out arduous and dangerous work in a very gallant manner.”

The sergeant was immediately awarded the Military Medal.

October 1945 saw the Wee Man from Glasgow again distinguish himself and he was “mentioned in dispatches” as recorded in the London Gazette.

This Wee Man from Glasgow never told any of his family or his six children why he was awarded the Military Medal. It was something that was never discussed, no matter who or how many times he was asked.

Each Armistice Day he would become very quiet, withdrawn into his own memories as he paid his respects to past comrades and the fallen.

As an adult, I asked him what he was awarded the medal for and his reply was: “I was only doing my job.” Nothing more! I never asked him again.

It was more than 25 years after he passed away before I was able to establish the facts and I have shared them in as simple a way as I can.

The Wee Man from the Gorbals was my dad.

On Armistice Day, I wear replicas of his medals in memory of him and the many other “wee” men and women from the Gorbals, from Glasgow, and from all the other parts of the world who came together to become giants and defeat the Nazis, Fascism, Extremists and Dictators.

As I played the Lament on Armistice Day, this is my salute in recognition of the Wee Man and “to all those who put their life on the line and to those who gave their all and didn’t return”.

We will remember them.

Jim Todd

Pipe Major, Retired,

Kilsyth Thistle Pipe Band