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Farewell to Lossie 'force of nature'


By Lorna Thompson

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MOURNERS travelled from far and wide last Friday to say farewell to a well-kent Lossiemouth ex-paratrooper described as a "force of nature".

Past and present military personnel made for an impressive sight at St James' Church in Lossiemouth for the funeral of Falklands War veteran Mike Granitza, who died suddenly at his home on Wednesday, October 2. He was 68.

A commanding presence both in stature and character, "Big Wullie Granitza", as his military friends knew him, left a deep impression on many throughout both his military career and in his local community. He touched many residents in his work later in life as a handyman at Elgin's Abbeyvale nursing home.

Paratrooper Mike carried out more than 500 parachute jumps around the world throughout his career, serving in the Falklands War and through the worst of the troubles in Northern Ireland. He rose to the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) of 216 Parachute Signal Squadron.

Serving with 2 Para in the Falklands, Mike was a radio operator for Colonel H Jones – who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross after being killed in action during the Battle of Goose Green.

Serving members of his old squadron formed the funeral bearer party and well over 200 Army veterans came to pay their respects. Some relatives travelled from Australia.

Veterans at the funeral in Lossiemouth of former paratrooper Mike Granitza.
Veterans at the funeral in Lossiemouth of former paratrooper Mike Granitza.

Mike had just recently returned from a trip to Arnhem to meet old comrades. After serving with the Territorial Army in Elgin and Aberdeen, in retirement Mike remained active with the Old Comrades Association, leading parades, and did talks locally on the Falklands War. Son Matthew said: "He never really left the Army."

The son of a German prisoner of war who went on to farm at Alves, Mike joined the Boys Service aged 15 on leaving Forres Academy. He entered Army service three years later – the youngest person at that point to join 216.

Friend Alastair Combe, who became an Elgin TA RSM after Mike, said: "We all thought this force of nature was indestructible.

"He was my first RSM. He was 'old school' and any indiscretions were dealt with swiftly and robustly. Once was usually enough to ensure you never erred again. However, once you got past the rather intimidating countenance it was clear that he cared deeply for his soldiers and was fiercely protective of them.

"He was a soldiers' soldier. To make a friend of Wullie was to make a friend for life – great company but always looking out for the lads, his mates, always had their back and by their side without hesitation."

Son Matthew added: "If you met him, you would never forget him.

"Nothing was ever any trouble – he was always helping people."

"He was lots and lots of fun. Every day was an adventure, everything was 100 miles an hour with him."

Eldest son James said: "The best way I heard Dad described in recent days was, 'Rest In Peace, you big, horrible, beautiful man'. That was him.

"He was the kind of person that when it snowed outside, he cleared all the neighbours' driveways."

He enjoyed adventures and making up stories with the grandchildren. Grandson Jack described Mike as a "big, friendly giant" and added: "More adults were terrified of him than kids were."

Mike was widowed in 2007 with the death of much-loved wife Glyn. As well as sons James and Matthew, Mike leaves behind six grandchildren, Jack, Daniel, Megan, Alfie, Jaxson and Harper, and his 94-year-old mother Jean Granitza.


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