Bert the real Red Lichtie

Flight Sergeant Robert Drummond in his Spitfire over Austria in the winter of 1946, the barrel attached to the fuselage contains supplies to be dropped to the civilian population.

Flight Sergeant Robert Drummond in his Spitfire over Austria in the winter of 1946, the barrel attached to the fuselage contains supplies to be dropped to the civilian population.

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The memoirs of a well-known Arbroath publican who passed away last week have revealed him to be something of humble flying ace.

Last Wednesday Robert ‘Bert’ Drummond died at home surrounded by his family after a long illness, and when the Arbroath Herald was invited over to speak to the family something quite remarkable emerged.

Aged 90 when he passed away, Mr Drummond had been one of the oldest surviving World War Two Spitfire pilots in Tayside.

Although he always played down his wartime role to his family Flight Sergeant Drummond was at one time a member of 111 Squadron, a unit well-versed in aerobatics.

In an excerpt from a talk Mr Drummond gave some years ago he said: “We did a lot of formation and aerobatics and 111 Squadron were the forerunners of the Black Arrows, who eventually became known as the Red Arrows. The culmination of our training was in an air display in Northern Italy for General Eisenhower.”

During his service he flew many types of aircraft, from Tiger Moths to Hawker Hurricanes and his beloved Spitfires. He also had a few close shaves, one of which was a catastrophic training accident in Egypt. Mr Drummond had been practicing strafing a convoy when he clipped a sand dune and spun into the ground. A nearby tank crew rescued him from his Spitfire which had split in three. The damage was so bad that when the field ambulance arrived the medics decided to have a cup of tea before recovering the body and were shocked to discover Mr Drummond sitting calmly with a mug of his own. Although he was badly injured, one ear was hanging by a thread and his arm was torn up, before he was allowed treatment his commander put him back in the cockpit for a few short flights to keep his confidence intact.

Demobbed in March 1947, Mr Drummond returned to Arbroath, took on a small holding which led to a position in Australia as the main fruit purchaser for a canning company. The family moved out to join him and they all returned in 1963. He then purchased Dorwards Bar and opened up the Golden Quaich, which he had for some time. He then moved to Forfar, buying and running the Queens Hotel for around four years before returning to Arbroath. He worked in the foundry at Frasers and another foundry in Carnoustie, before retiring.

He married May in December 1947, but she sadly died in 1972. They had three children, Graeme, Fiona and Iain, who died in 2000. He remarried to Cathy in 1980, and she passed away in 2009.

Mr Drummond is survived by his sister Nellie, children Graeme and Fiona, and step-children Lynn and Nairn, grandchildren Kristy and Craig and great-grandson Alex.