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“Before his 21st birthday, Jim – “Jock” – Costigan had been through more adventures and experiences than most people in a lifetime.


At the age of 95, the Redwalls Nursing Home resident has shared his amazing life story for the #DonateYourWords campaign by Age UK and Cadbury.

Jim, who was born in Glasgow, on June 26, 1925, showed his indomitable spirit even as a teenager in 1943.

After being turned down at a medical interview for aircrew training, due to poor eyesight, he marched across the road to the recruiting office and enlisted in the RAF – telling the recruiting sergeant he was 18 when he was only 17 and a half!

After training, he was sent to Blackpool to await transport to India alongside two sporting legends, Stanley Matthews, a corporal in charge, and fellow Blackpool and England footballer Stan Mortensen.

It was while stationed in Blackpool that Jim met the girl who later became his wife at the famous Tower Ballroom.

He was sent to Glasgow to board a troop ship which set sail for India via the Suez Canal, finally reaching Bombay.

After being trained in jungle survival, he embarked on a long rail journey to Calcutta; he recalled that as the youngest in the group he was sent to the engine, at every stop, to get water for the tea.

After two weeks, he travelled by road to Burma where his job was to go out and find downed aircraft and either repair them or salvage what could be recovered, using whatever type of vehicle was available.

During the next nine months in Burma, as the Army moved south towards the Arakan Road, Jim’s unit followed.

At one point, they were almost caught when the Japanese outflanked the British soldiers and came around behind them.

Following his time in Burma, Jim was sent by sea back to Calcutta and during a brief period of leave he visited the Nainital Province of northern India where he had a wonderful view of Mount Everest.

He was then sent overland to Madras where he embarked on a troop ship bound for Malaya; as the ship was leaving port the Tannoy announced the Japanese had surrendered and they could all have a drink or two.

During his time in Kuala Lumpur, Jim was put in charge of a Japanese officer and two soldiers on a project to build a cinema.

Jim left for home, via Singapore, in late December 1945 and, after various stopovers, landed in Bournemouth in February 1946, a civilian again. He took the train to London and then on to Southport to see his girl.

Jim joined ICI in 1949 and rose to the position of shift manager in the engine room; after retirement, he spent several years as a magistrates’ court usher.”

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