Obituary: Walter Farquhar

Walter Farquhar, engineer, air-force officer and local councillor: born Bathgate, West Lothian 22 February 1921; foundryman, Renton and Fisher 1936- 39; flying officer engineer, RAF Bomber Command 1940-45; costing engineer, Monro and Miller 1945-86; member, Bathgate Town Council and Senior Bailie 1960-75; elder and session clerk, St David's Church, Bathgate 1970-90; married 1944 Mary Bryce (one daughter); died Lancaster 3 April 1993.

THE LAST occasion on which I saw Walter Farquhar was when he waited patiently until the rest of my constituents had conducted their business at my weekly surgery. His visit was prompted by the controversy surrounding Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris. His point was simple. He hated war. He had deep distaste for what he had been asked to do over Hamburg and other German cities. But, was Britain in the 1990s going to disown what the RAF aircrews had done, risking their lives on every mission in the 1940s?

Farquhar would say that he was just plain lucky to have a half-century of active life that was denied so many of the aircrew with whom he served. Having participated in a couple of score of Halifax bomber missions over German targets, he believed he was living on borrowed time, that was not accorded to so many of his contemporaries. From the moment he returned from the war, Farquhar devoted his spare time and considerable energies to good works, visiting wounded ex- servicemen, and the elderly, and keeping in touch with those less well placed than himself, above all, those who had served in the same Halifax squadron. The wives of Farquhar's 76 Squadron banded together to make a memorial tapestry which was placed in York Minster in 1986.

Walter Farquhar was born the youngest of the 10 children of Alec Farquhar, a coalminer at Riddochhill Colliery. One of Walter's brothers, Robert, was a prominent official of the National Union of Mineworkers, and pit delegate at Riddochhill at the time of closure.

Farquhar was elected to Bathgate Town Council in 1960, and became Senior Bailie two years before Local Government Reform changed the system in 1975. It was a tribute to his personality that he stood and was elected as an Independent - and independent Farquhar really was. He was one of a generation whose style of life was determined by the shared dangers of the Second World War. He was sustained by a supremely happy marriage to Mary Bryce.

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