The Commando Memorial

[n.b. guidelines for plaques and the scattering of ashes at this memorial are included at the end]
 
History of The Commando Memorial.
Early in 1947 many members of branches of the Commando Association felt that some form of Memorial should be put up in Scotland. It was agreed the most appropriate spot would be in the area of the former Commando Basic Training Centre at Achnacarry. Mr William Gilmour Smith JP of Glasgow advised the Association that a strong representative Committee had been formed with the intention of inviting the Scottish School of Sculptors to submit designs.
 
The Committee consisted of:
 
Sir Frank Mears PRSA, LL.D, FRIBA - Local Town and Planning expert,
Douglas Percy Bliss MA, ARCA - Principal of the Glasgow School of Art,
Dr Tom Honeyman JP - Glasgow’s Director of Art Galleries and Museums,
Sir John Richmond KBE, LL.D – one of Glasgow’s leading authorities on Art,
Sir William Reid Dick KCVO, RA – Noted Sculptor.
They were joined on the Committee by three representing Commandos –
 
Douglas Bliss and Dr Tom Honeyman were responsible for drawing up the conditions of the test, and the artists were given 8 months to complete their designs. In all 26 designs were submitted, and these were exhibited in the Glasgow School of Art on the 28th October 1949. The Committee came from all over the country to judge the exhibits.
 
They were unanimous that the design by Mr Scott Sutherland, who was an Art Teacher at Dundee College of Art, was the most outstanding work, and they all felt would be a fitting symbol of all that Commandos stood for.
 
It took another two years to prepare the clay and plaster casts for the Foundry and complete the castings in bronze. The actual figures are 9 feet 4 inches high, and the finished memorial approximately 17 feet high. In the early stages a site was chosen above the lock gates at the Caledonian Canal on the actual road to Achnacarry, but this site was afterwards abandoned because of unforeseen difficulties. It was felt too, that as the memorial would be two and a half miles from the main Inverness Road, it was too far off the beaten track.
 
At this stage Lord Lovat was successful in having a suitable site generously donated by Mr McDonald of Speanbridge. The site commands a wonderful view. It is situated at the junction of the Gairlochy Road, and the main Inverness to Fort William, about three quarters of a mile from Spean bridge, at the top of the hill.
 
The Memorial was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on Saturday 27th September 1952. There was no parade or ceremonial drill, the Queen Mother expressing a wish to walk through a line of Commandos on the way back to her car. 
 
A simple Area of Remembrance was later opened adjacent to the Memorial which was extended in recent years. Here Commandos and their families can lay small tributes to loved ones. There is also an area for scattering of ashes. More information can be found [HERE].
 
 
At Spean Bridge, as at Westminster Abbey, an annual act of Remembrance was arranged, the first being on Sunday the 8th November 1953. Over the years this ceremony has become a very important one, not only for the residents of Lochaber, but for the hundreds of Commandos, their families, and their friends, making the pilgrimage to the area.
In 1957 the Town Council of Fort William agreed to arrange future services at the memorial, and also to be accountable for its future care and upkeep. The close links between Lochaber and the Commandos have been maintained ever since, and in 1993 the Lochaber District Council bestowed on the Commando Association the very great honour of the Freedom of Lochaber. This was presented to the Association on Saturday 13th November 1993. The following day a special plaque was unveiled By Brig. K.R.S. Trevor CBE, DSO, on the Memorial giving a short history of the Commandos.
 
The last photo shows members of the Commando Veterans Association (CVA) at the 2013 Remembrance Service. The CVA maintains close links with the people of Lochaber, local dignitaries, representatives of the Local Authority, the staff and pupils of Lochaber High School, local Cadet forces, Lochaber Archaeological Society, and many other interested parties. Our Annual Gathering on Remembrance weekend is always a well supported event with members travelling long distances to join us in Commando Country to remember all The Fallen Commandos, as well as all those Commandos who, with the passage of time, are no longer with us today. 
 
We will remember them
 
Source: Documents of the original Commando Association, and those written by the late Henry Brown OBE, No 1 Commando and General Secretary & Treasuer of the Commando Association.
 
Read on below .....

Guidelines on plaques and scattering of ashes at the Commando Memorial

The Commando Memorial is held in high regard and is recognised as a place of National and International importance. It is maintained in memory of and as a tribute to those Commandos who gave their lives in the Second World War and during more recent conflicts.
 
It is supported through financial donations from the visiting public and the Highland Council look after the memorial site with the aim of retaining the dignity and purpose of the Commando Memorial.
 
Plaques
It is requested that family and friends wishing to place small memorials and plaques in the memorial garden kindly ensure that plaques measure no more than 6 inches x 4 inches (15cms x 10cms) and are made from weather proof material, and also held securely by a ground stake.
 
Due to the severity of the Highland weather, items left in the garden can deteriorate quickly. Therefore, Council staff, with dignity and integrity, will on occasion remove and dispose of items that have deteriorated. They respectively ask that no soft toys are left at the site as they deteriorate very quickly and will be removed for that reason.
Ashes
An area has been created specifically for the purpose of the scattering of Ashes adjacent to the Area of Remembrance. 
 
In the event of relatives wishing to scatter ashes, arrangements should be made with:
 
The Highland Council 
Community Services 
Carr’s Corner Depot
Lochybridge 
Fort William
PH33 6T
Phone: 01397 709000 
email [email protected]
 
If you have any more general questions on the use of the memorial garden contact: 
The Highland Council
Chief Executive’s Office
Fort William  
Phone: 01397 707231
 

50th anniversary of the unveiling of the Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge.

Type: Booklet
Author: Andrew Milne
Year of Publishing: 2014
Keywords: Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge, Duke Of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Service of Remembrance

A beautifully produced Service of Remembrance booklet to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the unveiling of the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge by HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.  The memorial was unveiled and dedicated on the 27th September 1952. The anniversary commemoration took place during Remembrance weekend on the 9th November 2002.

This Service of Remembrance was attended by HRH Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T.

The booklet contains the history of the Memorial in photographs and narrative and a lot of other information about the Commandos.