Obituary: Captain George Anderson MBE

Career Seaforth Highlander who survived IRA bombing and took Tattoo to the US

Captain George Anderson MBE, Seaforth Highlander.

Born: 26 January, 1935, in Alnwick.

Died: 8 May, 2011, in Edinburgh, aged 76.

IN A varied and distinguished military career George Anderson was involved in many aspects of army life as well as seeing active service with the Seaforth Highlanders. During his national service Anderson was part of the invasion of Egypt in the Suez campaign and was later to be involved in duties in Brunei and Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

While in Northern Ireland Anderson survived an IRA bomb attack after a convoy he was supervising was hit by the IRA. The vehicles were transporting four tons of helicopter fuel to a base and the Land Rover in which Anderson was travelling was blown up, landing some 300 yards down the road. He received severe wounds but with typical resolution refused to return to Scotland for treatment.

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George Stewart Anderson - always known as Geordie - was orphaned at an early age and was brought up by relations. He attended local schools in Northumberland and, in 1952, did his national service. An important event came the following year when he was in the parade of troops that accompanied the Queen back from Westminster Abbey after her Coronation. Anderson's regiment then served in Egypt from 1953 to 55 during the Suez Canal Crisis.

Anderson was demobbed in August 1955 but he had been much impressed while in Egypt by the Seaforth Highlanders (he called them "a family regiment") and decided to re-enlist with them in 1956 at Fort George.

First postings took him to Gibraltar and Munster and then back to Fort George as a training corporal in 1958. After a further tour of duty in Munster Anderson was at Redford Barracks in 1961 when the Seaforth Highlanders were combined with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders to form the Queen's Own Highlanders.

Anderson then served in Singapore, assigned to the motor transport division. He was promoted to sergeant and served in Brunei during a time of political unrest there.

Anderson was then posted as a training sergeant to the Highland Brigade Depot at Bridge of Don in Aberdeen, a position he held from 1965 to 1967 and which he filled with much distinction.

He rejoined his battalion for duties in Berlin in 1967 and was promoted to Sergeant Major of V Company of the Liverpool Scottish 51st Highland Volunteers in 1968. After further tours of duty in Edinburgh, Anderson was made Training Sergeant Major with the Scottish Infantry Depot at Glencorse.

In 1975 Anderson was presented with a major challenge: to be a member of the team that transported the Edinburgh Tattoo (called the Scottish Military Tattoo) to Wolf Trap in Washington DC.

It was a demanding task and Anderson was in charge of discipline throughout the rehearsals in Hounslow and subsequent performances in the US.The tattoo was part of America's bicentennial celebrations and was a gift from the UK.

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The principal content of the tattoo remained heavily Scottish, and Anderson much enjoyed working with the pipe bands who thrilled the large audiences each night.

The Wolf Trap is a huge arena and the local press labelled the evening "spectacular".

One non-Scottish item was the Ceremony of the Keys that takes place nightly at the Tower of London and was performed by the Coldstream Guards.

The voice of the redoubtable Tom Fleming added a touch of Scottish authenticity to proceedings, and the Queen, Prince Philip and President Gerald Ford all attended. Anderson responded to the challenge with typical enthusiasm and commitment, and his efforts were much praised at the many social events hosted by the US Marines.

In 1977 Anderson was commissioned into the regiment as military transport officer at Kirknewton, with additional duties as administrative officer for the battalion's shooting team.

However, his active service days were not over and, in 1978, Anderson was posted on an operational tour of duty with the battalion to North Armagh, during which he survived the IRA bombing.

He then returned to the battalion in Kirknewton as the unit's family officer with tours of duty in Hong Kong, the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland and finally at Fort George.

Anderson was a dedicated soldier and devoted to the army - its discipline, its uniform and its traditions. But principally, as his son David commented: "Dad was a Seaforth Highlander through and through.

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"At his funeral he requested that his Seaforth family should attend. Dad was a modest man - he hardly ever, for example, spoke of the bombing in Ireland.

"He was a regular attender at all reunions and had a remarkable memory for names and past events."

Anderson retired from the army after serving as the schools' liaison officer for Edinburgh, Lothian and the Borders, in 1985, having been awarded an MBE that year.

He is survived by his wife Doris and their two sons.