Granddaughter lays wreath for fighter pilot in Anzac day service

Mandy Perry, from Canberra, honoured her late grandfather, Captain Clive Collet.

Granddaughter lays wreath for fighter pilot in Anzac day service PA Media

The granddaughter of a late fighter pilot who received the Military Cross and Bar has laid a wreath for him at a special service to honour fallen soldiers.

At 5am on Thursday, silence fell upon Edinburgh and Glasgow’s cemeteries while Scots paid respects to members of Australian and New Zealand armed forces.

Anzac Day, which is Australia and New Zealand’s equivalent of Remembrance Sunday, remembers all of the nations’ personnel who fought and died in conflict, many of whom did so alongside British forces.

This year’s commemoration was attended by Mandy Perry, from Canberra, Australia, who is the granddaughter of Captain Clive Collet, who received the Military Cross and Bar while serving as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps’ 70 Squadron during the First World War.

Captain Collet was the first on his squadron to gain ace status, meaning he shot down five or more enemy aircraft.

Mrs Perry’s husband Brenton Perry organised a surprise visit for his wife to Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in Edinburgh, where they gave her a special wreath in honour of her grandfather.

Mrs Perry met one of the factory’s workers, Dave Drysdale, a disabled veteran.

The pair personalised the centre of the wreath together, adding a picture of Captain Collet and his details.

She attended an Anzac service at Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh, where her grandfather, alongside 16 other Anzac troops, are buried. It began at 5am.

She said: “To come and visit my grandfather in Comely Bank is my 80th birthday present to myself.

“It is probably the last time I will have the chance to do so. I had no clue that there is an Anzac ceremony here, it was a complete surprise.

“I’ve been to many Anzac dawn services in Australia and even New Zealand, but I never expected to have one here, so this will probably be the most important one I’ll ever experience.

“I am honoured and humbled to be able to attend an Anzac day service at Comely Bank, it’s beyond belief. It means the world”.

She added: “I’ve never made a wreath before. To be able to put his picture in the middle of it, that we can show his Military Cross and Bar, is something that will live with me forever.

“Thank you to everybody at Legion Scotland and Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory for this unforgettable experience”.

Senior military representatives attended a subsequent service at Edinburgh Castle which commemorated the allied landings on the Gallipoli peninsular in Turkey on April 25 1915.

Representing the Navy, Army, and RAF were naval regional commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland Brigadier Andy Muddiman ADC RM, general officer for Scotland Major General Robin Lindsay CBE and air officer Scotland Commodore Bill Gibson MBE ADC.

Robert Aldridge, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, was also in attendance alongside representatives of the Scottish Government.

Also present were members of the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, the Royal Australian Navy, New Zealand Defence Force and Consuls General of France and Turkey.

The services are being led by Legion Scotland and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who also delivered the first Anzac dawn service at the Western Necropolis in Glasgow.

This service took place at 5am, with 16 dignitaries laying wreaths.

The dignitaries included: Paul Sweeney MSP; Colonel Alan Lapsley, Glasgow City Council’s depute Lord Lieutenant; national chairman of Royal British Legion Scotland Lieutenant Commander Martyn Hawthorn; and Lieutenant Colonel Mark Bali of the Australian Defence Force.

Dr Claire Armstrong, the CEO of Legion Scotland, said: “We are proud that we can expand the number of Anzac dawn services that are held in Scotland.

“In partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, we are ensuring that family members like Mandy, and those that reside in Scotland with relatives that do, or have served, in the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand, can pay tribute to them in a suitable, respectful manner.

“To play a part in remembering all Commonwealth service personnel is exceptionally important to us, and we will be holding our Anzac communities particularly close in our thoughts throughout this period of remembrance”.

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