Homage to WWI still workers
PAST pipes and drums members of a local Territorial Army unit gathered in Elgin for the first time in 21 years at the weekend.
Moray Lord Lieutenant Grenville Johnston, a retired Territorial Army officer, joined the large get-together of the 2nd Battallion 51st Highland Division Volunteers pipe band at Glen Moray Distillery on Saturday, September 7, which was held in remembrance of volunteers who fought in the First World War and returned to Speyside and its distilleries 100 years ago.
Members also paid homage to the soldiers who did not make it home or were too traumatised after the "war to end all wars" to ever work again, and also to the families left struggling to cope.
Members paid respects to colleagues who had passed away since the formation of the Elgin Drill Hall-based band in 1971. The battalion covered an area from Laurencekirk to Fort William and all of the north, including the western and northern isles.
The 2/51 H Vols were amalgamated with other TA units to form the 7th Regiment of Scotland and the Colours were presented to the chapel at Fort George for safe keeping on June 8 this year.
By 1998 most of the original pipe band had retired or passed on. The members organised a reunion then in the Park House, Elgin.
Organiser Gordon Duncan said: "The event was so successful we vowed to repeat the ‘do’ every two years. This fell by the wayside. After another two stalwarts passed away last December, I started to search for sponsors to help hold another get-together. We were determined to maintain the 'Spirit de Corp'."
The Veterans’ Foundation in Edinburgh came to the rescue with a generous donation.
Elgin City Band performed on Saturday before and after the pipe band’s Beating of Retreat – a duty in the Army performed every night to mark the end of the working day and also to call the troops off the battlefield in days gone by.
The march-off salute was taken by Lt Col Johnston, who also read out a message from Honorary Colonel, the Duke of Edinburgh. Lt Col Johnston had to rush to Elgin back from the Braemar Gathering after asking the Queen for permission to depart before her.
Mr Duncan added: "Over the years I have met many of these comrades and they often spoke of their loneliness now they had lost the comradeship which had demanded so much of their weekends and leisure time – at a cost to their family lives. Some have also lost their wives or partners, so they were all excited about prospect of the reunion."