Thursday, 14 November 2013

SPEAN BRIDGE, NOVEMBER 2013

The Commando Memorial


Standing high on the hills above Spean Bridge, in the middle of wartime 'Commando Country', the Commando monument looks out over a landscape of stunning natural beauty. To its left, in the image above, is Ben Nevis. A mere ten-minute drive from Fort William, the location becomes 'Commando Central' each November as commandos, past and present, along with families and friends, gather to remember those who have fallen in the various conflicts that still trouble our world.

Close by is a circular area where personal tributes can be laid to individuals and to units, and it is especially sad to see the most recent and realise the human race has still signally failed to learn the many lessons of the past (see below).


Details of the annual ceremonies are to be found on the website of the Commando Veterans' Association, and if you have never been, then a visit really is something you should consider. This year's events began on the Friday, and ended on Sunday: they included a visit to Achnacarry - 'Castle Commando', a Saturday evening dinner to which all were invited, a ceremony in front of the Alexandra Hotel, and of course the gathering beside the monument itself, with the skirl of the pipes ringing through the clear air. Amongst the many groups and individuals laying wreaths it was heartwarming to note the Army, Navy and Air Force cadets. Also to note the overdue presence of an Operation Chariot wreath laid, on this occasion, by Commando Bill Holland's daughter Denise Orzel.


Plans are afoot to resurrect the 'Commando Trail' idea with information boards at selected points throughout the area, each containing a QR code linking directly to the appropriate portion of the CVA website. This will allow visitors to have immediate access to the stories relevant to each particular location. Achnacarry was central to the training of both Commandos (Army and Royal Marines) and American Rangers. It was, however, not the first location to be so used, that honour going to Inverailort House and the Lochailort area some thirty miles away - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverailort_House.
Here, and in the area surrounding it, the first Irregular forces were trained - as were agents of the Special Operations Executive. The CVA website, at www.commandoveterans.org/‎ is a rich source of information, and well worth a visit.


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