A Highland woman who tended the graves of a group of Asian soldiers for more than seven decades has been buried beside them.
Isobel Harling from Kingussie, who drove ambulances during World War II, died last month at the age of 100.
She experienced the Blitz in London, served with the women’s Royal Navy and, after a posting to Invergordon, ferried nautical wartime casualties by ambulance – in all weathers – to Highland hospitals.
Family and friends have honoured her wartime and post-war service at her funeral at Kingussie Parish Church.
They recounted how Mrs Harling had been inspired by a kindly Belgian woman who tended the grave of her brother John after his bomber aircraft was shot down.
She was inspired to do the same for Indian and Pakistani Force K6 soldiers buried in Kingussie after they had perished during gruelling winter training in the Highlands.
She continued that task for more than 70 years.
An organisation that archives South Asian and Muslim heritage in Scotland considers Isobel “a gem”.
Dr Saqib Razzaq of Colourful Heritage said: “Every year, she’d come and remember them, put little crosses on, poppies on, come and talk to them. And, of course, she called them her ‘boys’.
“She was selfless – others before herself. She left a legacy that is difficult to match.”
Isobel had been VIP guest at the unveiling of a Kingussie monument to honour the fallen soldiers and received a British Empire Medal for her dedication.
Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Swift, who attended her funeral, said: “I’d like to extend our condolences to the family and thank them for allowing us to be part of what is a truly remarkable and privileged service.
“She leaves a legacy that we can all learn from and from what I’ve observed today she will be clearly missed by this community.”
The graves that Isobel tended for so many years are now the responsibility of the War Graves Commission.
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