Adventurous army captain dies aged 91

Alec Anderson
Alec Anderson
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A WARTIME army captain who led an adventurous life and finally made his home near Lealholm has died at the age of 91.

Alec Alexander, although born in Glasgow, always regarded himself as a Yorkshireman.

His family moved to Redcar to live when he was four and at sixteen he gained a place at medical school but his mother thought he was too young to leave home so he got a job working locally.

When World War Two was declared he joined the army in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) rising to the rank of captain and spending much of the war serving in India.

After the war he formed a section of the Territorial Army in Middlesbrough with the rank of major and worked as a mechanical engineer at the Teesside steel manufacturing firm of Dorman Long but then was offered a chance to be in charge of a new steel works in Durgapur in India.

His daughter Gail, who lives in Canada, said: “He fell in love with India when he served there during the war and spoke of it often so he asked Mum if she would be interested in going out to India for one year.

“He painted such a wonderful picture of India that Mum immediately said yes. During his time there he met Nehru and also escorted Queen Elizabeth around the steelworks.”

He was in charge of building the first steel works in Yugoslavia but in the summer of 1963 shortly after he arrived there was a massive earthquake.

He helped dig people out of the rubble saving many lives, contacted relatives of the people who died and continued to work in earthquake relief and locating bodies for months afterwards.

Mr Anderson was made a Member of the British Empire for his bravery and he was also decorated by Tito, the Yugoslavian head of state.

As one of only three British people in Yugoslavia at the time he acted as an unofficial ambassador for the British Embassy.

Later he was awarded the Order of the British Empire, the OBE, for his work in maintaining the British and Jugoslav relationship before returning to England in 1973 as director of the Teesside steelworks Head Wrightson’s.

After he retired he and his wife travelled extensively throughout Australia, Canada and the United States.