Letter from Sir Bernard Fergusson - April 1971
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This letter was addressed to Rev William Lyons Cochrane, MC (1900-1981).  He was a Padre in The Black Watch and served in North Africa and Burma in WW2. After the war he also served in Germany. Contributed by Bill Young the step grandson of Rev. Cochrane.

Brigadier SIR BERNARD FERGUSSON, Auchairne, Ballantrae, Ayrshire, Telephone Ballantrae 344

Saturday 17 April 1971

My dear Bill

What a splendid letter to find awaiting me on my return from a few days away! And I started answering it first five minutes before supper, because it was so much more interesting than all the others.  I’ll have to postpone finishing it until tomorrow morning.

            To begin with, you mustn’t dream of reproaching yourself for ‘repelling boarders’ when I rang you up at short notice that morning last month.  I would have made contact with you earlier if I had known how my programme was going to work out.  You certainly got your priorities right and you would never have forgiven yourself if you hadn’t seen your former Beadle in those last days of his life.  Another chance will surely crop up.

I’ll answer the last parts of your letter first.  You mention our son George Duncan.  He is a very good boy, doing well at school, enormously tall though I hope he is at last slowing down in the matter of growth (he is taller than I am already), and the very best of good company to his mother and me. Duncan’ is an old Fergusson name: in fact, the last ‘Bernard’ in the family (who was a bit of a blackguard in the 16th century) was the son of a Duncan, but I don’t think my wife and I would have resurrected it but for Duncan Menzies, and our ‘Geordie’ has Duncan for his middle name in memory of him.  And is aware of it.  Now for the others you ask about.

Jack Monteith. He married a beautiful and absolutely delightful English girl, who was adored by everybody in the Regiment.  Then four years ago she died a prolonged and gallant death from cancer, an end which had been hanging over both of them for years, and which both of them faced with great courage.  They had twins, a boy and a girl, both terribly nice, now 17; and the boy is almost certainly coming into the Regiment.  Jack himself retired to Blairgowrie last year, after commanding Highland Area, as a Brigadier, CBE, MC.

Angus Irwin CBE, DSO, MC also retired as a Brigadier last year, in his case to Comrie, also on Perthshi.  His son joined the Regiment through St. Andrews University last year, and is getting married next year.  When I was over last month, he was commanding the detachment in Pomeroy.

David Rose’s son Hugh came into the Regiment through Cambridge about three years ago, having spent a year in New Zealand in the deer-culling service between school and Cambridge.  A very amusing boy.  David himself retired as a lieutenant-colonel about ten years ago, and is living two mile out in Perth.

David Arbuthnott is a lieutenant-colonel, and for the last 18 months has been commanding the 51st Highland Volunteers, the infantry unit which represents all the old T.A. battalions and all the Highland Regiments: living in Perth: eldest boy just gone to his public school, Fettes, where David also was.  David came out to Nigeria with me in 1968, when I was the British Observer on the International Team watching that horrible war.  2 boys, 1 girl

Michael Wingate Gray is a Brigadier, and for the last three years has been Fortress Commander at Gibraltar. He gave that up in December, and goes to Paris next month as Military Attaché.

Freddy Burnaby-Atkins was my Comptroller of the Household for three of my five years in New Zealand, then went as Military Attaché to Morocco, from which he retired last year.  Since December he has been Private Secretary to Princess Margaret.  My wife and I were dining at Windsor Castle the night before last, and she was telling me how lucky she thought she was to have him – and so she is!  Three daughters. Aged 12 – 17 and boy of 10.

We see a lot of Frances Campbell-Preston. Robert the son is unfortunately totally deaf in one ear, so he couldn’t come into the Regiment.  He is at present in Denmark studying Fish-farming, which he hopes to start up in his native Argyll.  He got married to a very nice girl in January.  Frances spends most of her time in Argyll, but is also the lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother, which involves being on duty with her for two weeks in every two months.  That is enough to keep her interested without taking up too much of her time.

Bill Bradford’s eldest boy out of 3, and 1 daughter has just started at St Andrews, and should be joining the Regiment in 1974, and Andy Watson’s elder boy at about the same time.  Andy give up command in August, on promotion to Colonel, and will be relieved by Bob Tweedie, whose brother was killed in Crete with the 2nd Bn.  Denys Rowan-Hamilton lives in Killyleagh Castle. ‘Ruskie’ goes on exactly the same as ever.  He lives fifteen miles west of Perth but runs our Museum.  He is now 78 but hasn’t changed an atom since I first knew him in 1927!  He retired as a full Colonel in 1946.  Hewie Dalrymple lives in Ballantrae here: he owns a good bit of it, which he inherited from his father, including an hotel and a farm just outside: he hasn’t changed an atom either.  George Green died about ten years ago.  John Fanshawe is still serving, as a full Colonel, commanding the Records Office in York.

Richard Boyle’s father is still alive, aged 87, the last of eight brothers and sisters, of whom my mother was one. I will be seeing him tomorrow.  He lives in Portpatrick, so you could almost signal each other.

Time for the Kirk, and I’ll pop this into the Post Office while I’m down there.  I make no comment on the Northern Ireland problems.  I called on both Cardinal Conway and the Church of Ireland Primate when I was in Armagh, and tried to call on Principal Haire, but could not find a time to suit us both.

Grand to be in touch

            Fergusson Bernard (signature)