Alexander Walker Hamilton 1922-1980 (Royal Air Force 1940-1946). My Dad.
A short, moving service marked 76 years since the first Battle of Britain Day took place on the White Cliffs at Capel-Le-Ferne, Kent on Thursday.
Each year on September 15, members of the public gather at the site to pay their respects to the sacrifices made by RAF aircrew in 1940. The service began after a Spitfire flew overhead, and visitors gathered at the memorial site heard a delivery of Winston Churchill’s famous speech about The Few.
Battle of Britain Day is marked on 15th September each year to commemorate the defining battle in which the RAF repelled the German Luftwaffe’s largest major assault on London, 76 years ago.
The first battle to be fought almost entirely in the air, the Battle of Britain took place between July and October in 1940. Around 1,500 aircraft are thought to have taken part in the aerial warfare, in which men from New Zealand, Poland, Canada and Czechoslovakia fought alongside British soldiers.
Ninety four years ago today, my Dad, Alexander Walker Hamilton was born. He’s been dead since he was 58 but he’s still my Dad. Here he is with a young Mr H, outside our luxury holiday accomodation at Kinghorn, around about 1971.
Apparently it’s Fathers Day this month. Now, by the time my Dad died, 35+ years ago, that was some fancy American nonsense for jessies and / or the English. Today, a quick search on Amazon showed that there are 1,246 CDs available for purchase with titles like “The Best Dad In The World…Ever”, “My Dad Rocks”, “How It Works: The Dad: The Album”, “Dad – The Collection” and “Please Stop Beating Me Dad, I’ll be Good, I’ll Be Good”.
Back in pre-jessie days, my Dad owned precisely three records, accumulated over 40 years of passionate collecting. They were;
As I Love You – a 4 track EP by Shirley Bassey
The Best Of The Mills Brothers, and
Glen Daly Live at the Ashfield Club
Amongst his friends, this was regarded as affectation of the highest order. Most of them got by with a Josef Locke 78 for high days and holidays.
Apparently there is some Christmas thing happening about now, but to me, the 24th December will always be Deid Dad Day. Yes, it was Christmas Eve, 1980 when my Dad died, just after my Mum had nipped oot tae the shops with my Auntie Eva to buy some Christmas stuff, seeing as how my Dad was supposed to be staying in the hospital. But in the finest tradition of the NHS, they said he was OK to come home. The ambulance dropped him off late morning, my Mum went to the shops just after dinner, so it was just me and my Dad when he died.
Here he is, taking a short break from kicking Hitlers arse in World War 2, second from the left, at a military wedding. Do the click thing for a big version.
And here’s a bloke who spent 6 years fighting Hitler. While he was doing that in the RAF, his brother Bill was being killed when his Royal Navy ship was sunk in the Mediterranean. Thanks, Dad (pictured left).
Every year, without fail, even when he was dying a slow and lingering death, my Dad would trek up to the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. He would look up his brother Bill, who was killed in the Second World War, bow his head and say a silent prayer.
The Palais de Dance, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh was where my Mum & Dad met. It was also the place my Uncle Phil punched oot a certain Tam Connery. An amazing dancehall, according to my Mum, it was turned into a bingo hall and has been lying derelict for decades while a student housing builder tries to demolish it. Welcome to Edinburgh and their shameful cooncil.
My Dad, Alexander Walker Hamilton, would have been 93 years old today. Course, he’s been dead for nigh on 35 years, but he’s still my Dad. Happy birthday, wherever you are. Here’s me and him in the late sixties, in our full dayglo glory.
Well, my Dad has now been dead for 35 years, and I only knew him for 14 years, but I still think of him most days. So here he is, in 1950’s glory, with my auld Irish mammy in happier, more glamorous, times. That it to say, long before I arrived!
We went to see the film down below. Cos men didn’t go to the pictures with their children back then. They had important things to do like working and going to the pub. As it should be. But he made an exception for this one as I was deemed old enough not to show him up.
It was his third favourite film ever, after Shane and The Man Who Would Be King. And he was right about THWWBK.
He still called it the Regal, even though it had been renamed ABC many years before, but I don’t think he had been back to the pictures since he was winching his wife to be (aka my Mum) back in about 1960.
There was none of that nonsense about buying food and drink in the pictures either. That was for rich folk and eejits, but he did buy a packet of Opal Fruits out of Mrs Thomsons before we walked along Dundee Street.
It was a very exciting day for me, and one of the last good days I remember with him, as he was already smitten with the cancer that was to kill him 3 years later.
The strip of pictures of the two of us was taken a couple of years earlier at the photo booth that used to be at the side of the Caledonian Hotel in Lothian Road.