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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 December, 2004, 17:54 GMT
Hoon challenge as soldiers return
Bob Scott
Bob Scott said the defence secretary must listen to campaigners
The grandfather of a Black Watch soldier returning from Iraq has urged the defence secretary to rethink his plans for a regiments shake-up.

Bob Scott, who has been awaiting the return of his grandson Charlie, said Geoff Hoon must reconsider proposals to merge the Scottish regiments.

Mr Scott said: "I think he wants to look in the mirror, look at himself very carefully and rethink."

He described the restructuring proposals as "ludicrous".

The Black Watch veteran was speaking as soldiers were reunited with their families at their base in Warminster following a six-month Iraq tour.

The tour included deployment to Camp Dogwood, near Baghdad, which saw the death of five members of the regiment.

I've spoken to various members of the regiment and past members and they are devastated even at the thought of doing away with these regiments
Bob Scott
Grandfather of serving soldier
Mr Scott, from Fife, a member of the Black Watch Association, said the proposals to reduce Scotland's six single-battalion regiments to five and merge these into a super regiment would destroy centuries of history.

He expressed hope that his grandson, who is in the fifth generation of his family to serve with the Black Watch, would not be the last.

Mr Scott told BBC Radio Scotland's Newsweek programme: "This is a ludicrous situation where they are thinking of doing away with the regiments.

"I've spoken to various members of the regiment and past members and they are devastated even at the thought of doing away with these regiments."

He said claims that the merger would not affect future recruitment in the Black Watch's traditional catchment areas of Perth and Kinross, Tayside and Fife were wrong.

Bob Scott's nephew
Mr Scott's nephew Charlie is returning from Iraq
"People want to go to family regiments," he said. "They want to go to where they know people."

Mr Scott said four of the soldiers who died during the Camp Dogwood deployment had lived "within a 10 to 15 mile radius of each other".

He said his 18-year-old grandson, who will return from Iraq next week, is a "happy-go-lucky guy but very mature for his age" and has coped well in Iraq.

Mr Scott added: "He did phone one time when the mortars were coming in and it was quite frightening but I did say to him 'have you wet your pants yet' and he said he hadn't.

"I said 'your grandad has on many occasions so don't worry about it' and that was just to say to him that bigger and older men than him have been frightened."


FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Sky News More Black Watch Due Home - 20 hrs ago
Daily Mail Black Watch's fate awaits troops - 25 hrs ago
Independent Scottish units to escape worst of regimental cull - 32 hrs ago
Daily Star Black Watch Soldiers Arrive Home - 46 hrs ago
TelegraphBlack Watch come home - 47 hrs ago
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