Frank Coyle- Royal Marines

Courage, Determination, Selflessness – these are the qualities that make the Royal Marines the world’s most renowned commando force. And these are three qualities that Frank Coyle has in abundance.

93-year-old Frank, from Govan, has attended Erskine Reid Macewen Activities Centre (ERMAC) since October 2018 where he has made many friends.

Frank was just 18 in October 1944 when he was called up to serve with the Royal Marines 42 Commando. After 12 weeks training he was on a landing craft travelling the long, arduous journey to the Far East.

Arriving in Trincomalee in Sri Lanka, Frank and his comrades were moved around to keep the peace, spending time in Singapore, Saigon and 18 months in Bangkok.

His memories of serving are clear and vivid. Frank recalls releasing two POW camps where the prisoners were Dutch and Australian. The 140,000 allied prisoners of war captured by the Japanese during World War II endured horrific cruelties and a comparatively high percentage did not survive.

Frank said: “It was tragic to witness the prisoners on release. They were so thin, skeletal. Their reaction was of confusion.

Frank himself did not survive the war unscathed. He was hit by a sniper when in Bangkok and remembers the pain was like whiplash. He fell unconscious and woke up in an army tent where he stayed for three days before being transferred back to base. But even worse was to come when Frank became ill with life-threatening malaria. He spent a month in hospital and recalls feeling incredibly unwell.

Frank was demobbed in 1947. He missed home, so was happy to see his mother again. The next year he married Helen, who he met at the dancing in Partick and with whom he enjoyed a 58-year marriage. Frank is now a great, great grandfather!

With the help of carers, Frank still lives independently at home in Govan and attends ERMAC twice a week.

He said: “It is first class here. They cannot do enough for you. I enjoy the company and the shared tales the most but I take part in so many activities from mindfulness to tai chi to learning the ukulele. Coming to the centre brightens me up.”

When asked how he feels when he is thanked for his bravery and service, Frank says he is no hero.

He said: “You never thought about fear but I do feel proud when I think back to that time. Serving with the Royal Marines during WWII was hard, but it made a man of you.”

And what a man Frank is!

We were delighted to receive a grant of £40,000 this year from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, and its partner funder Greenwich Hospital, in support of our Navy and Marines veterans. The Charity has generously supported our work for over ten years, ensuring that Scotland’s elderly Royal Navy and Royal Marine veterans can continue to enjoy the best possible quality of life at The Erskine Home.