Robert McColl


Service: Army

Regiment Royal Armoured Corps / 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry

Rank: Lieutenant

Service number: 293722

Robert Smith (Smyth on birth certificate) McColl was born in Glasgow in 1923, son of Robert Smyth McColl and Helen McColl née Burge, who lived latterly at Ruynalcourt, 314 Ayr Road,  Newton Mearns.

Robert was killed on 31st October 1944 in the Netherlands when his regiment was employed in clearing pockets of German resistance remaining west of  the Meuse. The operation developed promisingly but unfortunately, the attack was quickly stopped by obstinate German resistance. Further delay was imposed by the growing supply shortage and the launching of an enemy counter-attack in the south. There was also a skilful German defence which postponed the clearing of the Maas for several weeks. He was 21 years of age when he was killed and is buried in Bergen-Op-Zoom War Cemetery,  Grave reference : 9. A. 7 and commemorated on Glasgow Academy War Memorial.


Robert's father, born 13th April 1876, also Robert Smyth McColl, was a footballer and businessman. He spent most of his football career at Queen's Park, which he joined in 1895 at the age of seventeen. He played with the club for eight years before beginning his professional career with Newcastle United in 1902. In 1905, McColl returned to Scotland for a short spell at Glasgow Rangers, but decided to rejoin Queen's Park in 1907, where he remained until his retirement in 1909. During his career he won fifteen caps for Scotland. McColl's name is perhaps best known today for the R.S. McColl chain of newsagents which he founded with his brother Thomas and which survives to this day. Their first sweetshop was opened in 1901 in Albert Drive, Glasgow, and the business expanded rapidly, earning him the nickname "Toffee Bob". A limited company was established in 1925 and eight years later the brothers sold a controlling share to Cadbury, who expanded the business into England and diversified the product range. The McColls continued to work for the company before retiring in 1946.  Robert senior died in 1958 and is buried in Cathcart cemetery.                                 

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Image reproduced by permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission