24th December 2010 at 00:00
GR Farney Dick remembered

GR Farney Dick, who has died aged 91, was the young Scots intelligence officer who broke the news to Churchill that the Second World War was finally over.

His task, in those delicate spring days of early May 1945, was to sit waiting for the phone call from Luneburg Heath signalling the German surrender.

"Eventually it came. I was given the password I had been waiting for," he recalled in his memoirs. "I switched to a scrambled telephone and called the War Office. I was connected to the prime minister and I passed him the message.

"The Armistice had been signed to take place the following day and all I got in reply was a grunt," he wrote. "I got the feeling that Churchill was none too pleased that it was all but over."

Mr Dick was born in Aberdeen's Rosemount area, the only child of locomotive storekeeper George and his wife Mary. He attended the city's Sunnybank Primary until the family moved out to Inverurie.

At 16 he went to Aberdeen University, studying on the train each day as he travelled in. He gained first class honours in chemistry, despite sitting his finals to the din of air raid sirens being tested across the road.

He had a lifelong interest in planes and hoped to get into the RAF, but his eyesight let him down and he ended up in the Royal Corps of Signals. Although he never worked at the famous codebreaker HQ, he helped to establish a Bletchley Park wireless intercept `Y' Station in Baghdad, monitoring enemy messages and passing them to the codebreakers back in Britain.

He also served in Rome before heading back to Britain in 1944 and being recruited to the Foreign Office, leading to his receipt of the historic surrender message.

Returning to Inverurie in 1946 and having been unable to secure a job as a chemist, he decided to retrain as a teacher, completing a postgraduate course at Aberdeen College of Education in 1947.

He set up home in Inverurie with his wife Mollie where he taught at the town's academy.

Made head of science at the Gordon Schools in Huntly in 1953, he set up a camera club, taught pupils to sail and coached volleyball teams. He remained there until retiring as assistant rector in 1983, although he continued working as a private tutor for another 12 years.

He always regarded himself as having been lucky during the war, never physically facing the enemy. But he came home with a legacy of TB and underwent an operation to remove half of a lung in 1955.

Told it would take 10 years off his life expectancy and warned not to go cycling, swimming or hill-walking, he defied the doctors to indulge in them all - and live to 91.

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