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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
WWII Commando vets group disbands
D-Day landing in Normandy
WWII Commandos won 38 battle honours and eight Victoria Crosses
Former soldiers who once fought side by side in one of the most fearsome forces of World War II have disbanded their veterans group at a final ceremony.

The Commando Association held a final parade in Portsmouth on Sunday, ending 60 years of supporting soldiers.

The association said falling numbers meant it was time to disband.

The force was created by Churchill in 1940 and members formed the Parachute Regiment, the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS).

General secretary Ron Youngman said: "For 60 years the WWII Commando soldiers have enjoyed the fellowship and comradeship forged in action.

When shall their glory fade?
Sir Winston Churchill

"But now, sadly, because of falling numbers, the time has come for the association to disband and stand down."

The Commandos earned a terrifying reputation for their worldwide raids during the war, with Hitler ordering that if captured they should be summarily shot, rather than taken prisoner - the so-called Fuhrer Directive.

The force gained 38 battle honours, which decorate the Commando flag in Westminster Abbey.

These were supplemented by hundreds of individual awards for bravery, including eight Victoria Crosses.

Speaking at the unveiling of a statue to commemorate the force he set up, Churchill ended his tribute with the words: "When shall their glory fade?"

The parade at the Royal Marines Museum on Sunday was in the presence of the association's patron Countess Mountbatten and was being followed by a drumhead service.

Also in attendance were the chief of defence staff General Sir Michael Walker, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and distinguished guests from towns in Europe which the Commandos helped to liberate during the war.


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