He’s smartly dressed, as befits a naval officer; including that now rarely seen sartorial adornment, a cravat.

He’s not above a mild bit of vanity either, asking whether he would look better in the photographs with or without his glasses.

Those specs, and a discreet hearing aid, are the only obvious clues to his age. Alex Spence is 97.

Last week he was back in his old stomping grounds of Helensburgh, Portkil, and Kilcreggan, a nostalgic visit to some of the places where he served as a young naval officer in the last couple of years of the second world war.

His memory of these days is remarkably sharp, as is a mischievous sense of humour.

He graduated as a doctor at Aberdeen University, but saw only six weeks’ work as a GP before the call up papers arrived.

And, having long messed about on boats, including a trawler, the Navy was the obvious berth for the young medic.

Basic training at Plymouth was followed by a post as a ship’s surgeon on a frigate. Since the crew were considerably fitter than the average landlubber it wasn’t too arduous medically.

But doing the North Atlantic run escorting convoys was not for the faint hearted.

Back in Britain he was posted as the naval doctor to the base at Portkil, though he notes that the officers stayed at the Portkil House Hotel where less privileged ranks were in Nissan huts.

Naval rations weren’t too dusty either; a meat ration per day which topped the weekly limit for civilians.

His naval career also encompassed being dispatched to a base in the Pacific south of India used by the Americans.

As he tells it, it seems to have involved quite a lot of sunbathing and exotic meals.

He was also over in France three weeks after D-Day. And, despite being made an offer few young officers might have refused, of peacetime work on a naval vessel bound for a Caribbean beat, he returned to hospital work in the north in order to study for surgical qualifications, which he passed four years later. One of only 12 per cent to make the grade.

It’s been quite a life, all in all – one which had him still sailing for pleasure up until a very few years ago.

And one which was honoured on his visit to this area last week, as a group of senior officers from Faslane arranged to meet Alex and pay tribute to one of the last men alive who can still remember the darker days of the 1940s.

It would be quite a treat for today’s seaborne guys, as I can testify after a fascinating hour in his company at Rosneath Caravan Park.