The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Fort George 1970
All photographs are the property of RHQ Argylls and may not be reproduced or copied without permission from RHQ Argylls.
The Battalion left Berlin after a most successful tour of fifteen months and flew in stages back to the UK. An Advance Party of 120 took over Fort George from the Royal Highland Fusiliers at the end of June and beginning of July. They were followed ten days later by the Royal Guard who proceeded on leave on arrival, as did the main body who were a further ten days behind them. By and large the families flew direct to RNAS Lossiemouth where they were received by the Navy and then embarked into buses and driven direct to their new homes at the Fort, in Nairn, or in the case of the majority, in one of the three housing estates in Inverness. Thanks to Capt Reddish and his team of assistants most families arrived at the right house to find it open and provisioned. A few took one look and left; the majority stayed!
Late July to Oct the battalion provided the Royal Guard at Balmoral under Maj. CPR Palmer.
The main body of the Battalion came back to work early in August, preceded by the baggage which arrived in containers. We had all heard of container
ships and container traffic; now quite a lot of people know what it meant on the A9 too. HM Customs almost lived in the Fort for a fortnight and we discovered
to our pleasure and surprise that they were both human and well able to cut red tape to our advantage.
Once the Advance Party had had its leave the Battalion was back to full strength early in September, less the Royal Guard. Apart from a visit from our Colonel-in-Chief on 5th October, we also had the Army Commander, Lt Gen Sir Henry Leask, the outgoing and incoming Commanders of Highland Area, Brigadiers Monteith and Coutts and the Divisional Brigadier, Brigadier Lithgow. Many lesser mortals have also came including a Brigadier from the far South who was obviously so surprised to find a clean and inwardly modern barracks in an old Fort that he couldn't make himself believe what is obvious to all of us, that here is a splendid battalion station in nearly an respects.
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VISIT OF HM THE QUEEN
The Battalion was greatly honoured on Monday, 5th October, by a visit from Her Majesty The Queen. Driving from Balmoral, accompanied only by a lady-
in-waiting, Mrs John Dugdale and her detective, Commander Perkins, she was met outside the Officers Mess at 1230 by the Colonel of the Regiment and the Commanding Officer.
For the next two hours she remained in the Mess, where she met all the officers and their wives in the ante room before lunch. Two tables of fourteen were set up in the dining room and in the Ladies Room next door sat the remainder. It is an unfortunate aspect of the Mess that no one room is large enough to seat everyone at one time. It was lucky that the day was fine and dry, but there was a strong north wind and it was decidedly cold. With the Royal Standard flying as stiff as a board over the Ravelin Gate, Her Majesty left the Mess after lunch, passed Cruachan and a Quarter Guard provided by Sgt Carroll and the Signal Platoon and proceeded round into the main square where she sat first with all the officers and a few minutes later with the Sergeants for group photographs. Thereafter she walked around the barracks visiting and talking to a selected number of soldiers engaged on training. WO II Irving and members of the Signal Platoon in FFR vehicles, part of whose day's duty was to check the Royal route between the Fort and Balmoral, were followed by Lt Street's driving cadres on the square. After watching Landrovers negotiating the intricacies of artificial hazards the Queen looked round part of F Company lines with Major Buchanan and Lt Clark.
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This was followed by a visit to the Mortar Platoon where Major J. S. D. Robertson and Capt Neilson introduced the Queen to those carrying out training outside the NAAFI before passing on to 2/Lt Tangye's Platoon which was engaged in an abseiling competition down the inside walls of the Fort behind the
Kirk. It was lucky that the Padre was able to show Her Majesty the Kirk and all the Regimental property inside its well-heated walls, and his ability to keep
talking was welcome for the whole party who were able to thaw out somewhat before proceeding further.
On leaving the Kirk the Queen first met the MFC cadre from S Company and then saw a short into action demonstration laid on by 2Lt Ross and the
Anti-Tank Platoon, Cpl McLaughlan spending the time explaining some of the intricacies of the drills. With time in hand before tea the QMs stores were next
on the list, and all the staff were available to explain their various duties and trades.
Inside the Sergeants' Mess the RSM had gathered all the Sergeants along with a number of Corporals and Private soldiers, all with their wives; amongst them was Pte and Mrs. McCormick, the oldest serving Argyll in the Battalion. After walking round all the many tables the Queen herself sat down to tea, and stayed in the Mess for about an hour.
Preceded by the Pipes and Drums and flanked by every soldier that could be discovered in the Fort, the Queen then walked back up through the barracks and round the front of the Officers' Mess. There on the lawn she passed slowly by a large group of Regimental families, talking to many. Finally, at 4.45 she left from the front of the Mess and drove slowly out of the Fort to the air "Will Ye No Come Back Again" played by the Military Band as the Royal Standard was finally lowered.
An unforgettable day—one in which Her Majesty braved the cold without a coat and spoke to every single soldier she met in the course of her visit.
The Balaclava Ball was held on Saturday, 24th October. 1970. at the Drummossie Hotel, Inverness. The main guests were Major-General and Mrs. F. C. C. Graham, Lt Col and Mrs. Boswell, and from Aberdeen Lt Col and Mrs. Mitchell. Invites were sent out to as many old Argyll's ex-Mess members as could be mustered, and to mention a few that were there:—RSM Robertson, RSM Coleman, RSM Murray, CSM O'Kane, C/Sgt Gilmour, C/Sgt Lazenby, Sgt Biggerstaff, Sgt Kirke, Sgt Scott. Sgt Bell. Sgt Kennedy, Sgt Kaye and Sgt Tonner.
The Mess was host to a party from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada. They were on tour in Scotland and stayed in the Mess for
lunch, and were shown round the Fort by Lt McLeod before continuing their tour. The Christmas Draw, run by WO II Joe Harkins and took place in the Mess on 11th December, 1970, the CO being the main guest.
Battalion activities during October, November and December centred on a recruiting tour (14 Sept-10 Oct), which was followed up in the latter part of the year (9-20th Nov), and training. Cadres by the Signals, MT, Anti-Tank and Mortar Platoons took place; much education has occurred at ACE I and II level. Companies and Platoons have trained between Fort George and the West Coast; the Support Platoons fired at Otterburn in November; the battalion carried out some Opmac tasks and provided-umpire and other assistance in BAOR and in this country. In addition, when anybody was around, individual training, Bd tests and classification went on. The only two major events that have not occurred are Battalion exercises and Battalion participation in other local and internal sporting fixtures.
Between December and early Jan 465 men left battalion for other Scottish Regiments and ERE Posts, most went on leave over Xmas and New Year then joined their new units in Jan 71.
Source - Thin Red Line Magazines
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Updated: 28 March 2015