'Jock' Muir was an interesting person, full of life and ready for any adventure that might come his way. As a young man he joined the British Army and was sent to Russia in 1919, on his return he then served as a regular soldier for some years in Ireland before the South became a Republic.
Between the Wars he worked for Smiths, the instrument manufacturer and then went on to work as a buyer for one of the large London stores. During the 1930s travel on the Handley Page Hannibal aircraft out of Croydon Airport, London was a frequent experience.
When the Second World War broke out it was back into uniform to be trained as a communications expert which resulted in him commanding a mobile radio unit with a few men under his leadership, they arrived in France just after 'D' Day (+6) often coming under fire whilst advancing through France, Belgium, The Netherlands and into Germany, after crossing the Elbe in 1945, right through to the end of hostilities in Europe.
By the mid 1950s he was in Northern Rhodesia working for the government, finally moving down to Cape Town in South Africa where became a skilled and well respected Chiropodist, practicing from his own premises in Sea Point until 1977.
Robert Muir's father was born in Elderslie, Glasgow, Scotland on the 19" February 1879. As a boy he joined a sailing ship operating out of Glasgow. All sorts of adventures followed, one being that whilst signed on to the SS Hengist, the ship was wrecked on the rocky shores off Patagonia, South America. Fortunately the crew were rescued by a Royal Navy ship which was in the area, the Falkland Islands at the time being an important outpost of the British Empire and a Royal Naval Station.
He later went also to South Africa signing up with the Cape Town Highlanders, a local militia ready to fight the South African 'Boers' in the Boer War. Shortly afterwards he was able to join the Regular British Army and continued to serve his country in the War against the Boers until he was sent home at the end of hostilities.
Next came the First World War, because of his previous service with the British Army he was immediately accepted and sent over to France in 1914, earning the affectionate title of being one of 'The Old Contemptibles'. In 1915 he was severely wounded and invalided out of the Army. However, he could not sit back and not do his bit so he joined the Royal Navy, serving in the Middle East, 'Mesopotamia', on a gun boat patrolling the River Tigris, he was severely wounded again and this time for him the War was truly over.
The Medals he received for his service for his country include those awarded for his South African experiences, then in the First World War the rare award to an individual, firstly a set of medals covering his Army Service and then also that for his time with the Royal Navy.
There are various ways in which the observance of a diamond or other jubilee wedding celebrations takes place, dictated very often by the wishes of friends, but of the humbler and less ostentatious kind are those of a happy couple, after sixty years of wedded life, paying a quiet visit to the scenes of their upbringing and youth, and renewing the acquaintance of surviving friends. This has been the choice of Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Muir, who removed from Elderslie forty eight years ago, and are now domiciled at 14 Gloucester Road, Regent's Park, London.
They were married on 7th July, 1875, at Paisley by the Rev. Mr. M'Indoe, and have lived a good deal in England since besides having a short spell in America. Mr. and Mrs. Muir, who were both born in Elderslie, in the course of their short visit this week, took in their itinerary Johnstone, Elderslie, and Paisley, and in the former especially renewed many old friendships.
Mr. and Mrs. Muir have happy recollections of their younger days roundabout Elderslie and Johnstone, and express astonishment at the many changes which have taken place since last they were here. This can be quite readily understood when it is stated that their home for the past 48 years has been in London, and it is 35 years since they last visited Scotland. Their surviving family consists of one son and three daughters, and there have been 10 grand children and 2 great-grand-children. Their resolve to re visit the scenes of their youth was their happy way of celebrating their diamond wedding and in doing so they have given pleasure to many friends whom they have called upon during their short holiday north
Curious to relate, the nearest Mr. Muir ever came to drowning was at home off Hastings, when he had gone out to fish in a motor boat along with a son. They were caught in a storm which suddenly sprang up, and with their engine giving out, they were at the mercy of the elements. It was a miracle that they ever got back into Hastings, being lucky, indeed, to secure a tow from a fishing boat, when they had almost given up.
Mr. Muir, who at eighty years of ,age, has the appearance of a man at least ten years younger, in the course of a chat with a "Gazette" representative, had many interesting recollections of his younger days to tell, especially those relating to his schoolboy experiences at Elderslie, which preceded his years of apprenticeship as an engineer at Messrs. M'Dowall's engineering establishment in Johnstone. A strict school upbringing, allied to sound experience in the Johnstone engineering works, laid the foundation of a successful life, as an engineer at sea. His long experience at sea was mostly in the frozen meat trade with New Zealand, but America both North and South - were visited at longer or shorter intervals, one outstanding trip being to the Falkland Islands, that historical landmark near the Straits of Magellan.
After his apprenticeship years at Johnstone, Mr. Muir had a short spell with Messrs. A. F. Craig, engineers, Paisley, and from there he entered the service of the old Anchor Line Steamship Coy. As a younger member of the engineering staff, he made many trips to New York, gradually gaining promotion. It was his adaptability that gave him his first trials with refrigerating plant on board ships, then in its Infancy. He was on the "Bolivia" at the time and on the two engineers' in charge of the refrigerating plant, going ashore he had to set to with another of the ordinary staff and condition the plant for an unexpected order of meat which had to be handled. It came off successfully and to this lucky "shot" was due his embarking later on in the meat carrying trade from New Zealand and elsewhere.
On leaving the " Bolivia," Mr. Muir joined the Austrian Hungarian Coy.'s steamer, the "Tiza," in the Mediterranean trade, with headquarters at Fiume, but he was only fitting in time, latterly joining the full rigged sailing ship " Canterbury," owned by Messrs. Patrick Henderson & Co., Glasgow, and London. He fitted the barque with refrigerating machinery, of the best type then available, and had put in many journeys back and forward to New Zealand before the steamship companies entered on the frozen meat trade.
His next experience was on the steamer "Loch Ard" carrying frozen meat from South America, and he had in all five voyages with her before joining the barque "Hengist'' and fitting her up with a more improved type of refrigerating plant. They sailed to the Falkland Islands, where there was good trade, and it was here that he had a very narrow escape of being lost at sea in the ship's, steam launch He and some others had gone on it to visit one of the adjacent islands, and were caught in heavy weather. It blew a hurricane, but fortunately, they were able to run back to St. Carlos before being exhausted with their endeavour to weather the storm. More experience followed on the S.S. "Hawk's Bay," and the "Norfolk" of the Federal Line all in the meat carrying trade from New Zealand. On one trip he said they carried about half a million rabbits!
Mr Muir, when 47 years of age, left the busy life of the sea, and settled down at Hastings as manager and engineer of an ice making factory. He served continuously for eighteen years, and latterly took over an appointment with Men's Brewery, London, where he remained for ten years.