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1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental Association ®

Charlie Aust - Speech

It is, indeed an honour and privilege to say a few words during this unique and deeply moving ceremony.

On reflection I realize and believe that it is a special time for personal thought. Our joint memories, our thoughts, our personal meditation this day, would fill the pages of military history with the most incredible unique and awe inspiring tales of war and peace.

Before us stands the symbol of our past ----- a sepulcher of our beloved Regiment our comrades, our fallen. Yes ---- these are personal thoughts and memories we cannot share.

It is essential that at the outset I speak on ALL our behalf, to express our deepest appreciation and gratitude to the Marques of Salisbury for the truly incredible and generous gifts he has given us and our Regiment. His permission to lay up our Colors in his private Chapel and to erect our Memorial on his private Estate is remarkable. The Marques' family is deeply embedded in the history of our once wonderful land - let us not forget ‘Hatfield', the suburb home of our Cranborne Barracks.

Let us not forget our Capital City and its title.

I personally remember, my friend Lord Salisbury's brother. Lord Richard Cecil with deep affection - he who died in action on the front line of our war. He who enjoyed our Country and its people. He is held in deep and respected memory today.

Thank you Lord Salisbury. We will remain eternally grateful for your kindness. And we do thank all your staff for their wonderful work to assist us.

We welcome especially this day our new Patron Gen Ron Reid Daly - a founder member of the RLI and a legend of our time and war.

I must also take this opportunity to speak on all our behalf in thanking Martyn Hudson for his truly outstanding efforts in organizing the relocation, repair and erection of our beloved Troopie and indeed for all his incredible work in arranging this unique weekend and all the events. His conduct reflects unbelievable determination, energy and commitment. Martyn, we all salute you in admiration and gratitude and indeed all who assisted you.

Our Chairman, Buttens Buttenshaw, who so sadly was unable to attend reminded me of Col Tufty Bate's statement when we unveiled the Troopie so many years ago ------‘that whilst the breath of one RLI member still existed the statue would remain'. Tufty who initiated the idea for a Regt. War memorial would be so proud this day. Let us thank him for this foresight..

Now I do, again on all our behalf thank all who have done so much to help us. As the years go by and we get older memories may fade but this sacred corner will always ignite that unique torch of military memory.

I do offer our gratitude to all our comrades from across the globe who could not attend who have also done so much for our Association. Let us cast aside differences of opinion which have arisen. Let us cast aside any anger. We thank and think of all our leaders and members across the world that are absent today. Our thoughts are with you.

As the ceremony proceeds I will once again think in sadness and gladness of that unique Regiment. The Troopie will again reveal to the world, a parachute Commando Unit of UNBELIEVABLE ability. A Regiment with nicknames which reveal a character and ability second to none. ‘The Incredibles', ‘The Saints' -‘The Green and White'. A band of brothers drawn together from all the corners of the world. Who can forget or, indeed, even repeat that incorrigible sense of frolic and fun and leg pulling that devastating efficiency in battle, that unbelievable courage and commitment.

I have learnt that comrades in war bring the human closer to his companion, than any other life - style. It is a unique blending of the human race. With gathering maturity our Regiment bred incredible, irreplaceable characters. Rank was deeply respected. Life was extremely tough and hard on so many occasions , yet true friendship jelled between all ranks.

The loss of our comrades initiates (and always will) deep sadness, yet deep pride. Before us today stands our anchor, our joint symbol of deep respect. As the veil falls we will see again he who stood upon the Holy Ground. He, we always saluted in passing --- our beloved Troopie He is now with us forever in safety.

I am reminded, in closing, of a well known song of the 70's. A song reworded by a tough RLI Ouen. A song we sang together when enjoying R and R or stand down with a few grogs. I am moved to quote the words which have never ever left me.

Far have I traveled on land and through sky. Dark are the valleys, the mountains are green

But oh our Colours fly higher than high For we are the men of the RLI

Now one lies wounded. He,s so far from home. All of the Troopies they pray for his soul

As life leaves him. He hears a heavenly choir. As they carry him back to the RLI

Let us remember those immortal words: They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old.

Age, shall not wear them. Nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

May I end with a 5 word prayer, as I ended the final speech before the Regiment marched off the Parade Ground at Cranborne and into history in 1980.

Thank you