101-year-old Fraserburgh navy officer to be honoured

A portrait of Charlie Urquhart in uniform
A portrait of Charlie Urquhart in uniform

A 101-year-old ex-serviceman from Fraserburgh will be honoured at Merchant Navy Day as the Broch celebrates the town’s navy seafarers.

Charlie Urquhart, a Broch fisherman who fought in World War II, will be in attendance at the celebration this weekend to hear some of the details of his extraordinary service spoken about.

Mr Urquahart was a young married fisherman living in Fraserburgh when war broke out in 1939.

Like many other fisherman he had joined the Royal Navy Reserve some time earlier, and so was called up to fight in the time of emergency.

Mr Urquhart took part in the Norwegian campaign and was on the destroyer HMS Antelope during the Battle of the Atlantic.

His ship was involved in a skirmish that saw two U-boats sunk in one day.

Then in 1942 he was transferred to the trawler HMS Vizalma which escorted convoys during the battle of the Barents Sea.

On Dec 31 1942, the Vizalma along with the rest of the convoy, were caught in a pincher movement by 2 German ships the Hipper and the Lutzow.

When fighting broke out it became clear that whilst the German’s had superior firepower, they were holding back and taking damage to the Hipper.

As the British pressed home their advantage, both German ships disengaged and made for Altenfjord, the decision enraging Hitler so much that he decided to scrap his surface fleet.

Mr Urquhart’s career continued to the end of the war whereupon he returned to Fraserburgh and the fishing, working until his retirement from the fishing fleet in his 60’s.

The celebration of Mr Urquhart and of all Merchant Navy sailors will take place at James Ramsay this Saturday Park at 11 am.

The service of commemoration will be officiated by Superintendent Miriam Kemp of the Fishermens Mission and attended by Deputy Provost of Aberdeenshire Allison Grant and Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, the Most Hon Joanna Gordon.

Deputy Provost Grant said: “It is a real honour to be given the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary men of the Merchant Navy, without whom this country would have starved during WWII.”

The service will be concluded with the raising of the Red Ensign and the laying of a wreath at the war memorial.

All are welcome and we are actively encouraging former Merchant Seamen to come forward to share their stories and experiences.