Soldiers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (5 SCOTS) have started a series of parades to mark the end of the battalion in its current form.
• Around 350 soldiers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders have begun a series of parades to mark the end of the battalion in its current guise
• March took place in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde as armed services personnel were watched by hundreds
Hundreds of local people and schoolchildren lined the centre of Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, as about 350 service personnel marched through the streets led by a brass band and their Shetland pony mascots.
Under plans announced last summer, the battalion is being reduced to a light infantry company of around 100 soldiers with largely ceremonial roles. The majority of soldiers from 5 SCOTS will join other Scottish battalions.
Major Bob Reid said: “We’re up here today in our traditional recruiting ground to show our appreciation for the local people and to tell the people of this part of Scotland that we’re still recruiting for the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
“As part of the Army 2020 plans 5 SCOTS is going to drop down to a company-sized group, there’s been some reports about us being disbanded but that’s a load of rubbish, we’re not, we’ll be a company-sized group which will be a rifle company which has a busy time ahead and will be off to the Falkland Islands shortly.
“Then, next year, it will have the privilege and honour of guarding the Queen in the royal guard at Ballater.”
The battalion stepped off on the march outside Port Glasgow Town Hall and took a salute from Inverclyde’s Lord Provost and the Lord-Lieutenant of Renfrewshire before parading past the town’s war memorial.
It was a particularly proud day for some of the soldiers from the local area.
Private Michael Duffy said: “It brings a bit of pride back home marching through the local area.
“You get a sense of pride about yourself and obviously you feel amazing walking through your home town and seeing faces you recognise.”
Royal Regiment of Scotland mascot Cruachan IV was making his first trip with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders after replacing predecessor, Cruachan III, who has been retired from service at the age of 23.
Both Shetland ponies were in Port Glasgow today as organisers felt the new three-year-old mascot needed a bit of company as he adjusts to the parade and loud brass band.
Major Reid said: “We’ve got Cruachan III who’s retiring, so we thought we’d understudy him with the new Cruachan IV, so he’s having a wee march round with us to see how things go and I think he did okay.
“He’s fitting in well and hasn’t bitten anyone yet, so that’s a bonus.”