Commando Speed March

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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

charitable bodies

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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