A fitting, final Memorial to a very fine Regiment

A glorious day to remember.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 8:21 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 8:21 am
The London Scottish Pipes & Drums conduct the Beating Retreat (Photo: James Finlay)

The Dedication Ceremony and Unveiling of The Gordon Highlanders Memorial finally took place on Saturday, October 9 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire with around 270 Gordon Highlander veterans, some accompanied by wives or partners, present.

The Regiment was very honoured to be sent an address by the Colonel in Chief, His Royal Highness, The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.

Also present to unveil the memorial was Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenants for the Shires of the Regimental area of the North East, the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, Councillor Barney Crockett, the Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, Mr Alexander Manson, the Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire, Mr Andrew Simpson and the Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, Mr Alastair Macphie.

Lt Gen Sir Peter Graham and Lt Gen Sir John MacMillan lay a wreath (Photo: James Finlay)

Each of the Lord Lieutenants spoke with great pride of the links their respective Shires and the City of Aberdeen had with the Regiment, which had endured throughout the Regiment’s 200-year history and continue today.

The Dedication Service at the Memorial was conducted by the Senior Army Chaplain for Scotland, the Reverend Duncan Macpherson CF.

Following the Dedication Ceremony, a reception and buffet was held for all veterans present where the Colonel of The Regiment, Lieutenant General Sir Peter Graham KCB, CBE, gave a very moving speech.

In it he stressed that whilst this may be the last ceremony of this kind, the spirit of the Regiment would live on in the Association Branches across the UK where veterans would continue to gather and in particular, at the very special five-star Museum the Regiment has in Aberdeen.

Memorial to be very proud of... (Photo: James Finlay)

The Museum has been transformed during the last 18 months through the considerable support and generosity of donors and not least Aberdeen City and is now welcoming back visitors from far and wide through its doors.

And as General Graham said: “We’re nae deid yet!”

The day ended with a splendid Beating Retreat performed by the Pipes and Drums of The London Scottish Regiment, which has links with the Gordon Highlanders going back to the second Boer War between 1899 and 1902.

The day had evoked a mixture of sadness and poignancy but also great pride.

Many proud veterans attended the memorial (James Finlay)

It was a very happy occasion with much laughter, smiles and the telling of stories and an opportunity for veterans from across the UK to meet again having in many cases not had an opportunity to do so since before the start of the pandemic.

One 93-year-old veteran summed the day up with a simple sentence: “This has been the happiest day of my life!”

That really says it all.

The Gordon Highlanders was formed on July 1, 1881, instigated under the Childers Reforms as the county regiment of Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, and Shetland.

The Lord Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, Mr Alexander Manson gives his address (photo James Finlay)

Originally known as the 100th Regiment of Foot, many of the original recruits were drawn from the Gordon estates.

To find out more about the regiment, you can visit the Gordon Highlander Museum website at www.gordonhighlanders.com.

Drum Major Foulis salutes the Colonel of the Regiment (Photo: James Finlay)