Nov 142014
 

By David Innes.

colour party 1 111114Whilst we stood in respectful silence at Pittodrie before Sunday’s fixture against Celtic, Armistice Day itself was marked by AFC Heritage Trust’s annual re-dedication of its memorial to the club’s fallen.

This is a Trust annual staple, the sixth since the original dedication of the permanent memorial in 2008.

The Trust War Memorial itself, a permanent fixture in the Richard Donald Stand, has been considerably enhanced through the generous donation of a granite sculpture by Heritage Trust patron Graham Guyan, proprietor of the cleaning company which employs members of the NE Gurkha community on duty behind the scenes at Pittodrie. This addition was on display for the first time.

Two Trustees, Derek Gill and Andrew Duthie read the roll of honour, always a moving tribute. It is almost impossible to comprehend the ages of those who did not return.

‘The Floo’ers O The Forest’, piped by  Pipe Major Laing of the Universities OTC and The Last Post led to two impeccably-observed minutes of silence and reflection, before Reveille and ‘Campbeltown Loch’ signified reawakening and new hope. Laurence Binyon’s ‘Ode To Remembrance’, now 100 years old was read, a tribute to all casualties of war, regardless of nationality.

Birkaji Gurung, a Pittodrie staff member, himself a former member of the Gurkha Rifles read an Armistice Tribute in his native Nepalese. A significant number of Aberdeen’s Gurkha community turned out to support Birkaji. They are always welcome guests who appreciate the efforts the club has made to welcome them as part of the Aberdeen and footballing community.

gurkha plaque

In a touching addition to this year’s ceremony, Gurkha Menbahadur Gurung presented club chairman Stewart Milne with a commemorative plaque to mark the unique and lasting friendship between the club and the Gurkha community.
Strong links have been forged too between the Gurkha community and the Heritage Trust and Birkaji Gurung presented a ceremonial Gurkha mace and a Gurkha Kukri, the coveted regimental dagger, to Trust  Chairman Allan McKimmie to cement this friendship.

Each year, organisations demonstrating their respect and gratitude for those who died increases in number.

11 November 2014 saw wreaths laid by representatives of

Aberdeen Football Club

Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust

Aberdeen Football Club Former Players’ Association

Aberdeen Football Club Heritage Trust

Aberdeen Universities Officer Training Corps

Air Training Corps

Bon Accord Sea Cadets

Dons Supporters Together

Gordon Highlanders

Gurkha Regiment

NE Scotland Disabled Veterans Association

Poppy Scotland

Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders

Royal Air Force

Royal Army Medical Corps

Royal British Legion Scotland

Royal Engineers

Royal Field Artillery

Royal Naval Reserve

Scots Guards

Soldiers Sailors and Army Forces Association

St Machar Academy

The Royal Naval Reserve wreath was laid by two primary 7 pupils from Danestone Primary School who were undertaking a Great War project focussing on Trimmer Fred Watson, commemorated on the memorial.

It was a moving and solemn event of remembrance and respect, a century on from the commencement and indescribable carnage of The Great War.

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Nov 172011
 

Remembrance Day was observed at Pittodrie for the third time since 2009’s unveiling of the memorial to Dons players and staff who gave their lives in both World Wars, writes David Innes.

The memorial has a permanent home in the Richard Donald Stand, and as Aberdeen Football Club Heritage Trust Chairman Allan McKimmie declared in his welcome address, the memorial has become a popular and informative attraction for those who take a tour of the Dons’ home, and for fans who take a keen interest in the club’s history.

Around 100 gathered to pay tribute in a short and respectful ceremony organised by the Trust, with a new memorial unveiled, dedicated to Keith loon and Dons player from 1937-1939, Jack Campbell. Jack went missing, never to be found, in an ill-fated far Eastern air reconnaissance mission in August 1943.

The unveiling was carried out by Duncan Davidson, Chairman of the Club’s Former Players’ Association. Duncan later laid a wreath from the FPA, and there were other tributes laid by the club, the Trust, the Royal British Legion, Gordon Highlanders and by representatives of other groups who paid dutiful and solemn respect.

WO2 (retired) Birkaji Gurung and several comrades from the Gurkha Rifles who have taken up residence in and around the city attended.

Birkaji read a special Armistice Tribute in his native Nepalese. Birkaji, a staff member at Pittodrie, was very keen to attend the ceremony and pay tribute to the fallen on behalf of the Gurkha Rifles whose commitment, courage and loyalty in conflicts is legendary. The Trust and attendees were delighted and honoured by the Gurkha contribution.

Aberdeen Football Club Heritage Trust is grateful to everyone who supported and attended the ceremony; especially Matt Fyfe of the Royal British Legion, Prestige Scotland, historians Derek Giles and Colin Johnston, and AJ Reid of the SSAFA.

The Trust is also grateful to everyone who donated hard cash to the bucket collection before the match against Rangers recently. Over £700 was raised for Trust activities, the biggest of which remains its aim of raising enough money to kit out to a high standard a museum at the Dons’ proposed new Loirston home.

Nov 082011
 

With Remembrance Sunday approaching fast and the wearing of a poppy being de rigueur for every stuffed shirt and empty suit on TV, Voice’s Dave Watt thinks about 11 November.  

11 November falls on a Friday this year, so the dead will have to wait until Sunday to be remembered, as the powers that be don’t seem to think that remembering them on the actual Armistice Day would be convenient.
I mean, businesses might lose a whole two minutes profit and think what a disaster that would be for our thriving economy. After all, big business interests shovel money into party funds and one and a quarter million dead servicemen and women don’t. So, balls to them.

Armistice Day on 11 November was originally meant to signal the end of The War to End Wars, back in a time when that phrase wouldn’t bring forth a cynical snigger.

In fact, on my grandfather’s medals, hanging in a frame in my hallway, it refers to The Great War For Civilisation which shows that there were politicians in the 1920s capable of coming out with the same kind of drivel as George W Bush did with his ludicrous War on Terror ten years ago.

Presumably, at some time in the future there will be a War For Straight Bananas or a War For Fashionable Sandals or something equally weird.

Hopefully, this year will not feature such irretrievable tat as the Royal British Legion inviting The Saturdays to frolic half-naked in a sea of poppies or getting the judges on X Factor to wear grotesque poppy fashion items – two tasteless frolics which inspired ex-SAS soldier Ben Griffin to describe them as ‘stunts to trivialise, normalise and satirise war’. Griffin, in fact, went on to state that remembrance has been turned into ‘a month long drum roll of support for current wars’, a point of view it is increasingly difficult to disagree with.

My grandfather joined up in 1914 in the surge of patriotism engendered by Germany illegally invading Belgium; my uncle joined up in 1939 when Hitler illegally subjugated Poland. Presumably, if Tony Blair had been Prime Minister in 1914, we’d have joined in the illegal invasion and attacked tiny Belgium as we did with impoverished third world Afghanistan, not one of whose citizens had previously done us the slightest harm.

Then again, if Tony had been in charge in 1939 he’d surely have produced some shoddy dossiers to our gullible Parliament showing how those dastardly Poles were all set to attack peace-loving Nazi Germany and that they had weapons of mass destruction concealed in Cracow and Gdansk which could be deployed within 45 minutes.

Yes, if good old Tony had been on the case then, we could nowadays watch Wellington bombers joining the Stukas strafing the women and kids in Warsaw on World at War on Yesterday – with a suitably solemn voice-over courtesy of Laurence Olivier. God, wouldn’t that make us just so proud of ourselves?

No, the bottom line is that we’re not the Good Guys helping the Underdog against the Bully any more. We’re something quite different now.

If you were wondering what happened to my uncle and grandfather in their wars, my uncle died in Normandy in 1944 after fighting in North Africa, Italy and Sicily. My grandfather survived four years in the trenches but was wounded and mustard-gassed in 1918. The mustard gas steadily and horribly eroded his lungs over the years and he eventually died in 1955 aged 56, so the War for Civilisation got him in the end.

I also had a relative on board HMS Hood when the Bismarck sank her in the Denmark Straits in May 1941. He was not one of the three survivors.

It’s interesting to think that if my three relations had survived wars and lived until now that their reward from a grateful country would be to have some pampered ex-public schoolboy Tories and Lib Dems cutting their fuel allowances by £100 this winter.

I’ll have my own two minutes silence for my relations and all the rest – the ones who came back and the ones who didn’t.

On Friday.

Photo Credits –
Row Of Crosses © Mediaonela | Dreamstime.com  
Poppy At Newe July 2011 © Elaine Andrews