Andrew Allison Law

Andrew Allison Law worked for National Bank of Scotland. He became an RAF pilot during the Second World War, and was killed in 1941.

Andrew Allison Law was born in Edinburgh in 1916, the son of Thomas and Mary Marshall Allison Law. He was educated at George Watson’s College, Edinburgh, and in 1934 went to work for National Bank of Scotland. By 1939 he was on the staff of the bank’s Inspector’s Department, based in head office on St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.

When war broke out in September 1939, Andrew was keen to join the Royal Air Force and become a pilot. He made his first attempt at joining up on Saturday 2 September, the day before Britain declared war, but the RAF Recruitment Office, where he went on his way home from work, told him they were not taking names until war had definitely started.

The declaration was made just before lunchtime the next day. Andrew went straight to the recruiting office, but was again told they were taking no names.

On Monday and Tuesday he went to Central Hall, which had been converted into a recruitment centre for army, air force and navy, but after queuing for several hours he learned that they were only accepting riggers and fitters.

The next day, he was determined to make some progress. He told his colleagues he might be late to work, and went very early to Central Hall, before it opened for the day. Instead of queuing at the main entrance, he went to the side, where he knew the recruiters used a separate entrance. He waited there, and managed to catch the attention of a senior recruiter on his way into the centre who, on hearing he wanted to join the RAF, took him inside and fast-tracked his application. He finished all the medicals and interviews just after noon, and was told to report back at 3.30.

In the next few hours he hurried around saying his goodbyes – to his mother, who had not known he was trying to join up, and to his colleagues at the bank. Then he reported back to the recruiting office, and by 5pm was on a train to an RAF receiving centre in Cheshire.

He stayed there for the next six weeks, then was sent for basic training at Bexhill, East Sussex. He was later posted to Wiltshire, then Staffordshire and Rutland. Throughout this time he stayed in touch with his colleagues at the bank, visiting them whenever he was on leave in Edinburgh and receiving parcels of cigarettes and chocolate from them while he was away.

At last Andrew was sent to flight training school at RAF Kinloss, and completed his training in December 1940. The same month, he became engaged to his girlfriend from home, Dorothea.

Pilot Officer Law began operational flights in January 1941. In April, on the way home from a bombing mission to Berlin, his plane was hit by enemy flak over Hamburg. He kept the plane flying until it was over the North Sea, and then was forced to ditch onto the water. The five-man crew successfully evacuated into a dinghy.

They drifted for two days and nights. On the third day, a coastal command plane spotted them, dropped supplies and raised the alarm. Towards evening they were rescued. Andrew was taken to hospital with frostbite, but soon recovered and returned to active duty.   

He was involved in another serious plane crash in August, but he and his crew survived unscathed.

On the night of 3-4 September 1941 he and his crew took off from RAF Linton-on-Ouse on a mission, but just over an hour later were ordered to turn back and divert to another RAF base, due to dense fog. In attempting to land there in foggy conditions the plane crashed into trees, killing all but one of the crew, including Pilot Officer Law. He was 24 years old, and is commemorated on the Second World War memorial of National Bank of Scotland, which today stands in the bank’s office at Gogarburn, Edinburgh.