BRIGADIER ALASTAIR PEARSON
CB DSO*** OBE MC KStJ TD (1915-1996)
Colonel Pearson and his wife Joan came to Tullochan Farm, Gartocharn in 1948 after WW2. During the war, he became the most decorated soldier of the British Army. After WW2 he and his wife farmed at Tullochan and settled into community life in Gartocharn.
He continued his involvement with the military as well as numerous other activities – local RNLI, Chieftain of Balloch Highland Games, Erskine Hospital, Loch Lomond Rescue Boat and Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, to name but a few. In 1992, he was Clydebank Citizen of the Year and he was also a freeman of Dumbarton.
Colonel Pearson was born and brought up in Glasgow. In 1932 he left Sedbergh School and joined the family bakery in the Cowcaddens. In 1933 he joined the 6th Highland Light Infantry and served as a part-time soldier and was mobilised in 1939. His active service began with the 2nd British Expeditionary Force landing in France after Dunkirk. After returning to Southampton he volunteered for special service. 1942 saw him moved to Tunisia with 1st Parachute Brigade. After the wounding of his Commanding Officer, he was commanding the brigade at the tender age of 27, the youngest commanding officer in the British Army. He proceeded to make a name for himself in a series of fierce encounters particularly with German airborne troops. After a bout of malaria, he returned to action in command of 8th Paras in 1944 in France having helped plan D-Day. He was a blunt and forthright man who lead his troops from the front and they trusted his judgement implicitly. He was immensely popular with his men, the only trouble they had was trying to keep up with him. More information about Colonel Pearson can be found here.
While training 8th Paras, he met and married Joan who had two small girls. Joan was the widow of an RAF officer killed earlier in the war. He returned to Scotland after the war, where their daughter, Fiona, was born. He continued to be known as the Colonel locally, although he became Brigadier of the Territorial Army Parachute Brigade after the war. His WW2 experiences are recorded for posterity in a This Is Your Life TV programme, broadcast in 1961 with Eamonn Andrews. Alastair fitted perfectly into village life in Gartocharn for 45 years. He enjoyed a drink in the pub at the Gartocharn Hotel, the Poachers Burns Club and the villagers named his series of second-hand Marina cars … the Yellow Pearl and the Green Goddess.
In his memory, his daughter Fiona with family and friends set up the Tullochan Trust to work with young people in West Dunbartonshire to foster confidence and motivation. The Trust’s goal is to help the young people change their lives for the better.
Joan Margaret Pearson nee Niven (1913- 1993)
Joan Pearson was brought up in Wiltshire and moved to Tullochan, Gartocharn with her husband, Alastair and three young daughters in 1948. Together they set about running the 250 acre farm, bought from the Ross Priory estate for £20,000. They milked a herd of Red Poll cattle and fattened bullocks also. To quote their daughter Fiona, “Mum was the farmer while Dad went off and played at soldiers.”. They set about bringing the farm into order. The land was all gorse and ragwort. Joan was the first woman to sell cattle at the Caledonian Mart in Stirling. She created and loved the garden at Tullochan. She wrote several small books, Tales of Tullochan and Tales of the Tay. They continued to milk cattle until the late 1980s – she was a workaholic.
Fiona, their daughter continues to school horses at Tullochan and has had many successes in the world of eventing. In the early days Joan was responsible for encouraging and supporting Fiona in this career.