The Commando Memorial
During 1996, it was decided to reconstruct the original World War II Commando
speed march to raise funds for the Commando Benevolent Fund and the
Airborne Forces Charities as well as other charitable bodies.
This has now become an established annual military event attracting
over 300 entrants a year.
The march is held over the original course between Spean Bridge Railway
Station and Achnacarry House in the Scottish Highlands.
Achnacarry is the home of Donald Cameron of Lochiel who graciously
allows us the use of the estate for this event.
Achnacarry Hous was used as Britain's principal
Commando training establisment.
The Clan Cameron Museum, within the grounds of Achnacarry,
has picture of the recruits abseiling down the walls as well as various
items of memorabilia. There is also a smaller insignificant version of
the Commando Museum at the Spean Bridge Hotel which used to contain a
number of interesting exhibits.
The Commando Memorial, situated just over a mile from Spean Bridge, is
passed on the route of the march.
The initial march took place when the volunteers arrived at Spean Bridge
Station. It was not unusual for them to be ordered to leave the train on
the opposite side to the platform and any man injured jumping down on
the track would be RTU'd. Heavy kit would be placed upon the waiting
transport and the troops were then force marched to the gates of
Achnacarry House carrying their fighting order weighing 36 pounds.
The time allowed, to cover the 7 mile route, was 1 hour.
Any recruits who failed to achieve this time were about turned and RTU'd
by the next train. Prior to arriving at Spean Bridge, the recruits had
undergone basic fitness training at Wrexham to ensure that they stood
a good chance of completing the march.
Weighing the bergens at Spean Bridge Station
The course consists of a 7 mile road march climbing around 400 feet
out of Spean Bridge on the A82 before forking left onto the B8004 to pass
the Commando Memorial at the 1.5 mile point. The route then descends
on an undulating single track road to cross the canal bridge at Gairlochy
having covered 3.5 miles. Turning right onto the B8005, the next 1.5 miles
are on an undulating tarmac road through woodland to the estate gates
at Achnacarry. The last mile of the course is a steady incline and drop to
the house with the telephone box around three hundred yards out from
the finish signalling the final sprint for the line.
Captain Nial Thomson, ex 3 Commando, provided all the information for
the reconstructed march. An instructor at Achnacarry during World War II,
he had, in conjunction with Rocky (Bert) Moore, remembered as many
details as possible after 55 years to ensure that the march was properly
carried out and for this we will always be grateful.
Sadly, both Nial and Rocky passed away during the latter part of 1997
but their contribution to what has become an enduring part of
World War II history, together with the ethos of the wartime Commandos,
still lives on in this quiet corner of Lochaber.
All sponsorship monies and cash donations go in their entirety to the
Commando Benevolent Fund, Airborne Forces Charities and other
The original Second World War route is run in boots carrying a 36 pound
bergen and entrants must be physically fit for this gruelling event.
Entry is open to serving military personnel (individuals and teams) and
members of recognised bodies. All contestants are expected to be
sponsored as the march is our main fund raising event of the year.
If you don't mind a challenge and would like to help keep the legacy of
the early Commandos alive, whilst benefiting a number of worthwhile
causes, then why not contact us for more details?
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