Leonard Ian McMurchy Primrose
Known as Ian
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Mentioned in Dispatches
Born 27th October 1919 at 25 Browlie Street in Glasgow to Leonard Browne Primrose and Mary Primrose Primrose nee McMurchy.
His mother was called 'Primmy' by friends and family which confused those who did not know that that was her given name as well as her surname! She came from Campbeltown originally.
Leonard was known as Ian because his father was also Leonard Primrose. When Ian was about six the Family moved to London as his father set up the London Branch of the family firm 'Primrose, Campbell and Bird', Insurance Brokers. They lived in North London between Muswell Hill and East Finchley and the office was in Old Jewery in the City.
Ian joined up early in the war and served in Scotland and is believed he guarded Hess there. That is when he got to play at Hampden Park (he was a fine football player and all-round sportsman).
He had two brothers Gordon and Jim. (Gordon was also a POW captured by the Germans before Dunkirk.)
Commissioned on 4th July 1940.
Ian embarked on the Ailsa Craig and during the journey he boxed on board ship under an assumed name, as officers were not supposed to box against enlisted men.
Photo shows him on left in training in Singapore, November 1941.
In a boxing match in Singapore Ian fought the Manchester Regiment Champion and knocked him out.
He fought in Malaya and was captured at the Battle of Slim River before the retreat to Singapore.
Captured at the Battle of Slim River, Malaya.
In Thailand Ian entertained the POWs in a mud wrestling competition with Kenny McLeod.
Ian was very highly regarded by officers and other ranks alike in the camps but suffered badly at the hands of the Japanese and Korean guards as he was quite fearless not having the aloofness of many officers
When he got very ill in captivity from Blackwater Fever, the Jocks were lining up to give him blood transfusions.
In a remote 'up country' camp in Thailand he found a nervous Japanese guard trying to finish off a POW dying of cholera, Ian took the rifle from the Jap and finished the job himself. He was subsequently court martialled by the Japs for this - taken to Bangkok - but honourably acquitted.
Ian did speak of having escaped from the Japanese at one stage but having been recaptured because he was tall and blue eyed. He told later of the mistreatment he suffered.
Released from service on 12th May 1946 after 109 days leave. He received a citation as he was mentioned in dispatches.
Ian submitted a citation for the War Trails of Japanese atrocities at Slim River.
In the winter of 1962/63 he suffered major medical problems brought on by his treatment by the Japanese and had to undergo surgery.
Ian kept in touch with "The Burma Star Association" and FEPOW until his untimely death in 1984.
The family were very touched by the many hundreds of mourners who attended Ian’s funeral most of whom, sadly, they never had the chance to thank in person.