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Royal Marines have been involved in a weekend of commemorations around Spean Bridge, the iconic Commando Memorial.

The 40 marines – based at 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde – turned out in support of the annual Royal Marines Association parade at the memorial in Fort William, Scotland. They also conducted a seven-mile speed march the day before, following the original route which their World War II predecessors had to complete during commando training.

The memorial service, taken by the Reverend Mark Allsop Royal Navy included prayers and readings, while 43 Commando’s Regimental Sergeant Major – Warrant Officer First Class Al Sullivan – read the role of honour in memory of fallen comrades. Wreaths were laid upon the Commando Memorial by Colonel Andy Muddiman, Commanding Officer, Warrant Officer First Class Dave Mason, Corps Regimental Sergeant Major, and Danny Cox of the Royal Marines Association.

As well as ranks from 43 Commando, the marching contingent to the memorial comprised of a local pipe band, Royal Marines Association members, the Royal Marines Motor Bike Association and X-Ray Company Royal Marines Cadets. The cadets made the trip all the way from Sheffield – where they are part of 302 Sea Cadet Corps – for the second year running.  Also in attendance, was Major General Martin Smith (retired), former Commandant General of the Royal Marines.

The land around Spean Bridge and Achnacarry is known affectionately as ‘commando country’. “I can think of nowhere better to bring the Royal Marines Family together than at the annual Spean Bridge parade. “Veterans and serving members looking every inch the part and cadets commemorating commando history in the foothills of the magnificent mountains where it all began,” said Major General Matt Holmes, Commandant General Royal Marines.

As a precursor to the weekend’s main event, today’s commandos got a chance to test themselves on the historic seven-mile speed march. The route took them from Spean Bridge railway station to Achnacarry House, which was home to the Commando Training Depot for Allied Forces from 1942 to 1945. The route was used as the first selection test for nearly 25,000 commandos trained there during WWII.  The location still holds special significance in the Corps’ history.

On completion of Sunday’s parade, all attending were invited back to the Ben Nevis Hotel, in Fort William, for lunch and a chance for the serving personnel and veterans to exchange stories.

Words and images copyright MOD

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