St Ives Commando Award Laid to Rest

Commando Veterans Archive
Extract from Commando Association newsletter 101 (September 1995).

A proposal that The St lves Commando Award Management Comittee be disbanded and that the Trophy be placed in the custody of the St Ives Town Museum ended 30 years of a unique association between the town of St Ives and those Commandos who settled in the town when they left the services.

The purpose of the Award was to "perpetuate the memory of all those Army and Royal Marine Commandos, who trained in St lves. and who died in the War of 1939/45. and in the many actions since". The Award was to be given to a boy or girl from the greater St lves area who had carried out an act of "Courage. initiative and fortitude" during the preceeding 12 months.

The first presentation in 1965 which was made by John Earle, then with BBC TV, to James Ryall, for fortitude (overcoming a serious disability) and the last in 1989, by a Royal Marines Colonel, to Ricky Chilton, again for fortitude. But, perhaps the most deserving recipient of the Award, in 1975, was the late Chris Walsh who fought for recovery after a brain operation.

The Committee had set a high standard for the Award and there were a number of years when no suitable nomination had been received, as in the past 5 years. In 30 years the Award had only been presented 14 times. There were times when a suitable nomination had been received but when the parents had been approached they did not want the nomination to go forward, usually for personal reasons, or they did not want their son, or daughter, exposed to the publicity.

The population of St Ives is changing and many of the newcorners are not aware of who these Commandos were, and their association with the town. Also the Commando population itself is suffering from Anno Domini (the youngest wartime commando would be 68 this year). The Secretary of the Award, 'Slim' Sutherland has recently undergone three major operations including a heart valve replacement. 

The Management Committee reluctantly decided that the scheme "had run its course" and the trophy will be placed in the Town Museum along with the Rose Bowl presented by the Royal Marines at the reunion in 1993.

It is intended that a Commemorative Plaque, thanking the people of St lves, should be placed in the vicinity of New Pier. After this final act 'Slim' Sutherland intends to retire as Commando Secretary at St lves, after 4l years, and his appointment as Area Representative of the Commando Association.

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