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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 18:11 GMT
Ex-soldiers: 'Sad day for Army'
By Stephanie Todd
BBC News Website

Duncan McLeish
Ex-soldier Duncan McLeish believes troop morale will be affected
Geoff Hoon's announcement of a new Royal Regiment of Scotland has been met with a mixed response from ex-service personnel.

Some residents at the Erskine Hospital, which cares for ex-soldiers, agreed the day was "a sad one for Scotland".

A former soldier from the soon-to-be merged Royal Scots described the plan as "garbage", while others said they understood the need for change.

Concerns were also voiced that merging battalions would "lose their history".

'Stabbed in back'

Alan Archibald, 45, who served 11 years with the Royal Scots, told BBC Scotland's news website that the UK Government should "leave well alone".

He added: "They don't need to do any of this. The Army is needed now more than ever. They are making cuts for no other reason than over money.

"It's all garbage."

Normal Macleod
The troops out there will be just be concentrating on the job at hand
Norman Macleod

Duncan McLeish, 63, who served 10 years with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, was angry that Scotland "was getting hit harder than elsewhere".

He said: "Whenever cuts or 'reorganisations' are made, Scotland is always hardest affected.

"Our boys are the ones at the front line and yet they are getting stabbed in the back by those high up back home.

"Imagine being out on a tour of duty, fighting in a foreign country, having been proud to represent your regiment and then hearing news that the regiment you fight in will disappear.

"It is certainly going to affect morale."

However Norman Macleod, 88, said troops would be focusing on the task at hand.

He said: "Merging regiments is not a new idea. I was in the Highland Light Infantry when we merged with the Royal Scots Fusiliers to become the Royal Highland Fusiliers in 1959.

"It was hard at the time and there was a lot of opposition to the plan, just like there is now.

"But as soldiers, we had a job to do and that is what we concentrated on.

"Troops today will have the same attitude."

'Change inevitable'

Black Watch veteran Jim Laird, 73, fought in the Korean War before being discharged on medical grounds after losing his legs aged 22 at the frontline.

He told BBC Scotland that the plans detailed by Mr Hoon represented "a modern army, for modern warfare in a modern world".

Mr Laird added: "War isn't the same now as it was when I was in the Black Watch.

"The Army down the years has changed from using horses to using trucks, tanks and armoured vehicles.

"The use of troops has changed too, we used to walk and march from camp to camp. Now they fly in by helicopter.

"Change is inevitable and while I regret the fact that some regiments will be consigned into history, I accept that the Army has to move with the times.

"What is important is that the soldiers and their families remember that history and carry it forward for future generations."



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Daily Express Uproar As Hoon Unveils Army Plan - 1 hr ago
Sky News Hoon Announces Massive Army Cuts - 3 hrs ago
Daily Mail Army shake-up: Black Watch to merge - 4 hrs ago
TelegraphMP thrown out of Commons - 4 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Hoon accused over 'cowardly' army shakeup - 5 hrs ago
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