Defence Minister condemns gossip about 45 Commando ‘move’

DEFENCE Secretary Dr Liam Fox has condemned the gossip about 45 Royal Marine Commando moving from Condor to a base in the south of England.

Various stories were in circulation, one of which suggested that a Scottish regiment might move into the vacated base on the outskirts of Arbroath.

Dr Fox has written to Angus MP Mike Weir in response to his inquiry about the future of Condor.

In his response he states that the Basing Review is considering the future of all bases and he hopes to be able to give full details before the House of Commons rises for the Summer Recess, which is on July 19. He goes on to say: “I wholeheartedly condemn such gossipmongering at any time, let alone when 45 Commando are deployed in Afghanistan”.

Mr Weir said: “Liam Fox confirms what we already knew, that the future of all bases throughout the UK forms part of the review and that no definite decisions have yet been taken. Suggestions that Condor is to be closed are nothing more than wild speculation.

“The story that 45 Commando may be moved to join other parts of Third Commando Brigade is not new, and clearly there is a possibility that this might happen and that they might be replaced by another unit. While that would be regrettable given the strong links that have developed over the last 40 years between the unit and the town it clearly does not mean that the base would close.

“I am sure that any other unit that was stationed at Condor would very soon establish a similar good relationship with the local community.”

Mr Weir concluded: “Clearly if any threat did emerge to the future of the base the local community would be united to fight for its retention.”

45 Commando came to Arbroath in 1971 when they took over Condor which had been vacated by the Fleet Air Arm.

In 1982 the unit was heavily involved in the campaign to retake the Falkland Islands after an invasion by Argentinian forces and lost 13 of their number in the ensuing conflict.

Subsequently, the commando has undertaken duties in Afghanistan and is currently on active service in that unhappy country.

Many Royal Marines have married local girls and settled in Arbroath and the surrounding area when they leave the forces.