Former members of the Scots Guards this week honoured the 65th anniversary of their battalion laying up its colours with a march outside a city church.
The Aberdeen and North East of Scotland branch of the Scots Guards Association (SGA) has marked 65 years since the colours were returned home, after postings in the Middle East and Asia, with a ceremony at the Cathedral Church of St Machar in Aberdeen.
The anniversary event was attended by Heswell Rae BEM, one of the original guardsmen who paraded in Aberdeen on the day the colours were laid up in 1952.
He remains an active member of the Aberdeen and North-east of Scotland branch of the SGA today.
Heswell, now 87 years old, served for more than 30 years in Aberdeen City Police and Grampian Police and retired as a sergeant.
He was known to generations of local schoolchildren as road safety characters Mr Tufty or Bertie Beacon, work that earned him the British Empire Medal.
On gazing at the colours displayed in the cathedral, Haswell, who now stays in Kincorth, said: “It brings back memories.”
He added: “I remember that day in 1952 well. I had travelled up from London where I’d been on active duty.
“I’m still involved in the association, because you’re still a soldier even when you’ve left. You’ll always be a Scots Guard.”
On August 9, 1952, the colours were marched from Albyn Terrace, along Union Street, King Street, St Machar Drive and the Chanonry, led by the regimental band and followed by the colour party and a company of guardsmen.
The colours were then handed over at the Cathedral Church of St Machar, Aberdeen for safekeeping where they are still displayed today.
Reverend Angus Smith had travelled up from Edinburgh to lead the ceremony, as former Chaplain to the Scots Guards.
He said: “There is always emotion when you do services like these, particularly when it’s more of a meditation – you don’t gloss over things. You can think more deeply on it.
“These are not just items, they’re memories, not just of the soldiers that died, but of their families, their parents who probably never got over their loss; widows that wept, friends they left behind.”
Colours are the Regimental Flags of the British Army, and were originally used as rallying points on the battlefield.
Graeme A. Thomson, secretary and treasurer of the association, appreciated the day, admitting it was “absolutely emotional”.
He added: “The colours are the most precious thing in each battalion.”
The history of the colours stretch back to July 16, 1936, when King Edward VIII presented the new colours to the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards who carried them to postings in Palestine, and then Egypt, where the battalion was still posted at the outbreak of war.
The colours accompanied the battalion during active service throughout the campaigns in North Africa, Italy, Holland and north west Europe, then on to Malaya in 1948 where the battalion fought in jungle terrain.
Several members of the Aberdeen and North East SGA attended a ceremony earlier this year at Buckingham Palace during which The Queen, presented new colours to the 1st Battalion and F Company Scots Guards.