Royal Marines Association responds to concerns over Commando Memorial plans

COMMANDO MEMORIAL GARDEN Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F32-Commando-Memorial-Garden-scaled.jpg
COMMANDO MEMORIAL GARDEN Photograph: Iain Ferguson, alba.photos NO-F32-Commando-Memorial-Garden-scaled.jpg

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The Royal Marines Association (RMA) has given assurances that plans for improvement works to the memorial garden at the Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge are intended to make the site ‘bigger and better’ for relatives of those commemorated and visitors.

Last week, the Lochaber Times reported calls for Highland Council to abandon part of its plans for an extension to the memorial garden to allow for further consideration and consultation with veterans groups.

Bill Harvey, a Highland member of the national committee of the Commando Association, is objecting to the design and the proposed area of the extension, which he says would see granite boulders placed in the area where there are memorial plaques and where the ashes of a number of former marines have been scattered.

The council said the proposed redevelopment  is a result of discussions between the Commando Veterans’ Association – now replaced by the Commando Association – and the Royal Marines Association, with whom it manages the famous site under a tripartite agreement.

NO F22 commando memorial
Commando memorial. Photograph: Abrightside Photography.

The council said the proposal will provide a more protected, fitting environment for tributes being laid and will also help those with mobility difficulties and give a little more social distancing.

The middle of the garden will be infilled with rough boulders appropriately sourced from nearby Achnacarry Estate – where the main wartime commando training depot was located – and the tributes moved to the ‘outer circle’ providing more space for them to be properly displayed.

Prior to the works, the council says all the existing tributes will be carefully removed, stored and then put back in the garden once works are complete as it did when it last extended the garden.

And now the RMA has told the Lochaber Times that the works are intended and designed to enhance people’s experience of visiting the memorial.

‘Having been party to these discussions, we can say that the proposed plan is to enhance the memorial garden and to future proof it,’ explained Richie Puttock, operations manager for the RMA.

‘We certainly don’t want to upset anybody. We are well aware this is an on-going functioning memorial and will be so for years and years to come – I myself have often been there to commemorate friends I have served with.

‘The intention behind the improvement works is we want the garden to have a bigger impact, to make it bigger and better.’