Several of the Museum Appeal steering group and their guests attended the Installation Dinner of Brigadier Joe d’Inverno as Deacon of The Incorporation of Fleshers at the Trades House of Glasgow on Saturday 29 November. The event, attended by over 200 guests, took place in the splendid setting of the Trades Hall of Glasgow, an eighteenth century building designed by Robert Adam in Glasgow’s Merchant City.
Brigadier Joe kindly donated the proceeds of the evening to the RHF Museum Appeal and in excess of £5,000 was amassed from a combination of a silent auction, raffle and champagne draw. This is a tremendous achievement and the Museum Appeal Committee is extremely grateful to everyone, including Brigadier Joe, the Trades House and the staff and volunteers at 518 Sauchiehall Street for their efforts in the preparations and ‘on the night’.
General Loudon addressed the guests during the Dinner and a copy of his speech can be read below.
Brigadier d’Inverno has set an excellent example and has got the Appeal off to a superb start and we hope that many others will follow his lead in the months and years to come.
General Loudon’s address:
Deacon, Deacon Convenor, Distinguished and honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen, Clerk.
Thank you for giving me the chance to say a few words about the RHF Museum Appeal. The depth and uniqueness of the connection between our Regiment and the people of Glasgow and Ayrshire forms a colourful patchwork of stories built up over the past 350 years.
It is a story of fighting men, of families, and of those who took centre stage on the home-front.
The word unique is often over, or miss-used, but in our case the Collection of the Royal Highland Fusiliers and the shared heritage between place and people has created the most important military museum on the West coast of Scotland. The threads of its Assaye Colour represent an unbroken line of uniqueness, reflecting the fact that the RHF is the only regiment in the British Army to carry three Colours, the fact that over the river at Hampden Park is a piece of regimental silver called the Durand Cup which was first competed for in India by the RSF and HLI in 1888 and is the oldest football trophy in the world outside the UK. The regiment has the highest number of VC’s awarded to any regiment of the line and the phrase ‘women and children first’ comes from the gallant actions of Lt Col Seton and his men to save the passengers on
HMS Birkenhead when she sank in 1845.
The City and the plough mobilised truly astonishing numbers of volunteers during the great struggles of the 20th Century and as we know from the sombre events which took place in the city 3 weeks ago, the scale of sacrifice was monumental. The beginning of the last century was also a watershed for women as they began to enter every part of the workforce.
So what do we want to do with this story?
Put simply we want to keep it illuminated and to keep this extraordinary story going for the generations to come. This involves moving from an unsatisfactory building on Sauchiehall Street to the centre of Glasgow’s emerging cultural quarter between Kelvingrove and the Transport Museum. In 5 years or so we would like to call the re-developed KH our home as well, and in doing so we will try to redefine the interpretation, design and ethos of what people call a military museum. It will be about People and through an interpretative approach of story based narratives we will explore the themes of Duty and Family which infused all who served.
We will also explain the Science of fighting as seen through the eyes of those in the regiment and how they faced Combat, hardship and danger. For us this is not simply about moving 10k artefacts from one place to another, it’s about a very important Collection and its relationship with the city, the west of Scotland and the social history of the people.
We want to raise circa £5 million, hopefully with a significant slug of that sum coming from Heritage Lottery Fund match funding. Please don’t leave the room tonight without taking one of the small business cards that are on your tables. They fly under the Appeal strapline Inform, Inherit, Inspire and contain details of the Appeal website.
This is a Victoria Cross, and I end by telling you briefly about William Angus VC whose story exemplifies all that I said earlier about People, Duty, Family and Combat.
William Angus joined The Highland Light Infantry in 1914 with his best friend from school James Martin, the latter became an officer, Angus a private soldier. On 12 June 1915, Martin led his platoon on a raid which was eventually aborted and when they got back to their trenches, they discovered that James Martin had not returned. Angus volunteered to go out to find his friend and spent a considerable time arguing with the Commanding Officer until he agreed to the rescue mission, on the proviso that he should be attached to a rope and be pulled back if he got into trouble. When Angus reached Martin he tied the rope to him, ordered the trench to pull the wounded officer back and then, simultaneously, set off himself in another direction in order to draw the enemy fire away from his friend.
He was wounded 40 times!
For his actions that day, Private Angus was awarded the Victoria Cross; and when The King pinned the gallantry medal on his chest some time later, he said that by all accounts having been wounded 40 times, he was surprised he had survived, to which Angus, after a theatrical pause, said “ach but Sir, only 14 of them were serious!”
When Angus arrived back at Carluke station in September, Lord Newlands (the Chairman of the Lanarkshire TA) and Lieutenant James Martin were there to meet him off the train – both men had removed their medals from their uniforms as a mark of respect for Angus’s VC.
And the footnote, which I find even more moving, is that for the rest of his life on the anniversary of his wounding and rescue, no matter where he was in the world, James Martin sent William Angus a telegram to thank him for saving his life.
My thanks go to Brig Joe d’Inverno for his kindness in dedicating the charitable purpose of his installation dinner to the RHF Museum Appeal. Thank you, to you for listening and I hope that over the next four years or so you can follow his lead and support the Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum Appeal.