The Cameronians - Scottish Rifles
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The Cameronians - Scottish Rifles

Speeches from the Disbandment Parade

The Address by Rev. Donald MacDonald

Delivered by the Rev. Donald MacDonald (the much loved former Chaplain for many years in India, to each of our Regular Battalions in turn).

“Cameronians! This is a grievous day for you and all of us here. We may well say it is a grievous day for Scotland, seeing that your roots have been so closely intertwined with the troubled history of Church and State in this land.

Today, you cease to be a regular arm of Her Majesty’s Forces. It has never been the habit of Cameronians to whimper and we shall not whimper now, for, thank God, we can fill this doleful moment with gratitude and pride.

On this historic spot, we remember the men who on the 14th May, 1689, gave the Cameronian name to “the Regiment of my Lord Angus,” then raised as the 26th of Foot. They were men into whose moral fibre the Bible as the Word of God, had woven its own strong and distinctive pattern. It is surely fitting that we should seek from that same Word, Inspiration and encouragement to sustain the present hour. And here it is! From the 1st Chapter of the Book of Joshua:- “ Be strong and of good courage. Be not afraid, neither be disheartened, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

It is a Word for all of us. It is a Word for you who have been serving in the 1st Battalion, and over whose future may hang a cloud of uncertainty. I say to you: “Be of good courage.” The mystic element of “Morale” has always been a feature of the Cameronians, and never more so than when facing grim situations. You could not fail to have been caught up in its strong influence. So take it with you to the various units where you continue your service. It will be an addition to their strength, and with your own disciplined minds, will be a rewarding possession to yourselves wherever you go.

Our text has also a word for those who have given a lifetime of service to the Regiment, and to whom this day must bring a pang of sorrow beyond telling which lies at the heart of love. Yet they need not be disheartened, for to them is the precious remembrance of a warfare accomplished and a duty well done. To most of us here, and to many not here, so long as life lasts, this Regiment will never die. It shall live in our hearts till mind and memory flee.

So then, above all our regrets, there is gratitude to God for the blessings of the years, and there is pride in the exploits of comrades past and present. Look at your Drums! They carry Battle Honours that are epic in British History. From them, we can take comfort that today’s sad event had come to you, not because you or your forbears ever shirked any duty committed to your charge. It is not YOU who are being proved unworthy or unwilling to share the solemn trust of maintaining the dignity and further­ing the destiny of this realm. Recent years speak their witness on that point, and it is a witness which can stand alongside the heroic story already engraved upon your annals.

You now move out of the Army List because of changes of emphasis in our Defence Systems coupled with economic duress and political expediency. But ‘be not dishertened.’ The Army List is a document of temporary significance, liable to amend­ments or excision according to the whim and swing of governments.

So put pride in your step Cameronians! As you march out of the Army List, you are marching into History, and from your proud place there, no man can remove your name, and no man can snatch a rose from the chaplet of your honour.

Be of good courage therefore! The Lord your God is with you wherever you go, and to His gracious mercy and protection, I now commit you.

The Lord bless you and keep you, and make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you and give you peace.


The Speech by the Colonel of the Regiment.

Delivered by Lieut.-General Sir George Collingwood, K.B.E., C.B., DS.O. (Colonel of the Regiment) and addressed to Major-General F. C. C. Graham, C.B., D.S.O., D.L. (Colonel Commandant of the Scottish Division).

“I speak for all Cameronians Scottish Riflemen, whether here present today, or unable to attend but here in spirit.

We are greatly honoured by the presence here, of General Count Bonde (who has come from Sweden as the personal representative of our revered Colonel­in-Chief) of the Duke of Hamilton the Earl of Angus, to whom we are deeply grateful for under­taking the sombre task of taking leave of the Regular Battalion of the Regiment, which was raised by his forbear, James, Earl of Angus, within a mile of this spot, on the 14th May, 279 years ago) of Miss Douglas-Home (representing her father, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, by whose kind permission we are holding this parade here today) of General Sir Geoffrey Musson (Adjutant-General of the Forces), and General Sir Derek Lang (Commander-in-Chief in Scotland, and an old and trusty friend of the Regiment) of the Lord Lieutenant and Civic Chiefs of our own County of Lanarkshire of eminent Ministers of the Church of Scotland, with which we have such close historic ties and a host of friends and supporters of our Regiment from Lanarkshire and far beyond.

Since we made our home in this County nearly a hundred years ago, we have received the support of the County and Burghs of Lanarkshire, of the Church of Scotland, and of the two great branches of the House of Douglas (whose tartan we wear), headed by the Dukes of Hamilton and the Earls of Home, and I feel sure that this support will be con­tinued in even greater measure (as the need is greater), to our two Companies of Territorial Volun­teers and our Army Cadets, the remaining rearguards of our Regiment, by whom we hold to life, and on whom rest our hopes of revival. I would appeal to all these great Interests to exert their power and influence to keep in being these remaining elements of this famous and historic Regiment, which Is not only ours but also theirs.

General Graham, I address you as Colonel Com­mandant of the Scottish Division. We are very grate­ful for your presence here, and for the presence of so many of the Scottish Colonels and representatives of our Sister Regiments in Scotland and of those beyond, including the 7th Gurkha Rifles.

We are intensely proud of our 1st Battalion, and deeply grateful to Lieut.-Colonel Dow and all ranks for having so faithfully upheld the unique customs and traditions, the honour and high reputa­tion of our Regiment.

When they disperse and go their various ways in the next few days and weeks, they will go with our hopes and prayers for their happiness and success wherever they may serve The Queen. We are happy, Sir, in the assurance that they will be welcome and honoured members of their new Regimental families. When the Battalion flag comes down in a short time and the Battalion marches away to lay down its arms, part of all our hearts will go with it. In a few days time, we shall deliver this Battalion flag to you for safe custody on behalf of the Regiment, in the Scottish Division, to keep among you as a token of our Regimental spirit which, through our long history, has inspired all our devotion, all our valour, and all our sacrifices in the service of the Sovereign and of the Country. That spirit will of course, live on in our Territorial Volunteers and Cadet Units, and our Association and Clubs, but for the time being In the Regular Army, this flag must be its symbol.

We Cameronians cannot regard this disbandment as final, because we have sufficient conceit of our­selves to believe that In time of stress, our Country could ill afford to dispense with the services of such a well-tried and renowned fighting unit. Our record from 1689 until today, and the unusual, if not unique number of famous leaders our Regiment has pro­duced, is the testimony of our worth.

We would make of you, Sir, a particular request. That if and when it becomes necessary to expand the armed forces and no wise man today, would assert that it could not happen then we would ask that you or your successor at that time, should urge the highest military authorities and the Secretary of State for Scotland as a first step to re-muster our Regular Battalion, so that It can fly this Flag again and take up its arms from where this fine Battalion Is laying them down today.

We believe that that would be the wish of our Sister Regiments In Scotland, In general of the people of our home County of Lanarkshire which is so strongly represented here today.
It remains for me, Sir, on behalf of us all, to wish you and all Scottish Regiments good fortune and long life in the service of The Queen.”

Source: 'The Disbandment Souvenir Programnme' published by the Regimental Trustees, The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).