HUNDREDS of soldiers from the Royal Scots Borderers have started deploying for a six-month tour to Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
An emotional farewell parade was held at the end of last week for the 450 soldiers from 1 SCOTS – the 1st Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland – who were led through the streets of Edinburgh by the pipes and drums from Dreghorn Barracks to Colinton Church where a service was held.
Members of the Military Wives Choir sang for the soldiers at the service as hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets.
And a new CD featuring the pipes and drums of 1 SCOTS, together with the Fijian choir, has been released to help raise funds towards battalion welfare projects.
Entitled When Duty Calls, it features 18 tracks, including traditional regimental marches, as well as other favourites such as Amazing Grace and Highland Cathedral.
There is plenty of Borders involvement in the project, with the battalion pipe major, Sergeant Michael Hogarth having grown up in Innerleithen and Corporal Kevin Turnbull, the band’s pipe sergeant, hailing from Selkirk.
The latter explained the inspiration behind the CD: “With the guys deploying to Afghanistan, it will help raise money for battalion welfare funds and it also gives the boys something to take with them out to theatre as a reminder of home.”
Asked how the tracks were selected, Corporal Turnbull says a mixture of old KOSB and Royal Scots tunes were picked, as well as some newer ones from the Royal Regiment of Scotland catalogue, to come up with some sets.
“Also the wife of one of the sergeants in the battalion wrote a song specially for it and this has been included as well,” he added.
“The CD’s already selling reasonably well and people can get it from a number of shops in the Borders.”
Outlets include the shop run by Kevin’s brother, Colin, in Selkirk’s High Street – Turnbull’s Shoe Repairs.
Corporal Turnbull, a veteran of numerous Edinburgh Military Tattoos and overseas trips with the band, says everyone is delighted with the finished product.
“Yes, we’re very pleased, given the short amount of time we had with the deployment to Afghanistan.”
The CD was put together over the summer and is the first official compilation from the battalion since the late 1990s, so will be a welcome addition to the CD racks of those with an interest in the Borders’ own infantry unit, as well as those fond of the skirl o’ the pipes and Scottish military music.
As well as the CD, wristbands will once again be sold while the battalion is on active service in Helmand.
TheSouthern will also be carrying regular reports and photographs during the tour, as a way of readers being able to keep up to date with the activities of the Borders’ own infantry unit.