World War 2 (1939 - 1945)


Image reproduced by permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Alexander Campbell Ralston

Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Unit: HMS Victorious
Rank: Sub Lieutenant

Alexander Campbell Ralston was born in Harrogate on 25 February 1922, son of Major Douglas Ralston, JP, and Mrs Ethel Ralston née Brown of Newton Mearns. He attended the High School of Glasgow and was awarded a Lanfine Bursary to study at the University of Glasgow where he graduated MA with Honours in 1944.

While studying at University, Alexander Ralston volunteered for the Naval Air Arm and trained in Canada and the USA before receiving his commission in June 1943. He was attached to the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable, taking part in operations against the German battle cruiser Tirpitz. He was posted to the Far East in 1944 and was involved in air raids against Japanese targets in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Alexander was killed, aged 23 on 23 May 1945 attempting to land his plane on the flight-deck of the carrier HMS Victorious after a raid.* He is commemorated on the Lee on Solent Memorial and on the High School of Glasgow and University of Glasgow War Memorials.


 *HMS Victorious - On 1 April 1945 the ship was attacked by a Kamikaze Zero which struck its starboard wing against the port side of the flight deck, causing the plane to cartwheel into the sea where its 250 kg bomb exploded underwater about 80 feet from the ship's side. Tons of water, fuel and fragments of both plane and pilot were thrown on the deck, but the ship escaped damage. On 9 May 1945 the ship was struck again by two kamikazes. The two attacks killed four, seriously wounded four and wounded an additional twenty men.  Despite significant damage to the ship and the equipment, Victorious was able to fly off planes one hour later, could land planes twelve hours later and was fully back in action after two days.

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