A REMARKABLE Millport veteran whose passion for the military won him friends around the world has passed away at the age of 84.

John F Kennedy was taken prisoner near the border of Tunisia and Libya while researching his father's death in World War Two.

But John ended up befriending his captors - who then helped transport him to the waters where his dad was killed by a mine so he could lay a wreath in his memory.

John was a respected member of the Royal British Legion for many years, and began a 25 year career in the armed forces in 1957.

He was born on September 4 1936 at Downcraig on the Isle of Cumbrae to father John and mum Veronica.

John was in the Royal Highland Fusiliers and the Argyll and Southern Highlanders, and served with distinction in Northern Ireland, Germany and Yemen.

He left the army in 1978 and worked for Group 4 Security for 24 years.

His wife Agnes passed away in 2009 before John again found love with Beth Burns. The couple lived happily together in Howard Street, often going for walks around the island with loyal Westie Meg.

In May 1943, John’s father's unit was sent to North Africa but they stopped off opposite Millport when they were en-route and got ashore for one last time to see his wife and family.

John was only six when his dad, an engine man in the Royal Navy, died while serving in the Mediterranean when his motor launch was struck with a mine.

Son Alan, 58, explained: "He wanted to find out where his dad died off the coast of Tunisia and back-packed for two weeks, staying in hostels and tents, to reach the spot. When he got there, it was a military zone.

"He was actually arrested, but he explained via an interpreter that he was just wanting to see where his father had died, and his captors ended up taking him out on the water so he could lay a wreath.

"My dad found friends wherever he travelled - here, instead of getting shot for trespassing, they took him in.

"He had that marvellous gift of friendship and kindness."

John always liked to keep fit and completed the West Highland Way three times - but his main passion was always his army life.

He was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and decided to spend his final weeks at home. He passed away on August 27 with Beth and Meg by his side.

John is survived by three grown up children, nine grandchildren, and six great grandchildren, as well as brother Alastair, 82.

Scott Watson, chairman of the Millport branch of the Royal British Legion, said: "John was one of those special characters in Millport, someone that everyone knew.

"He was always instrumental in the big remembrance parades on the island and we will definitely miss him, as a whole community. He was very proud of his military service and it was infectious.

"He was a very kindly soul and our condolences go out to Beth, and all of his family."