Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Snow on the Ground...

All this snow reminds me of one of my favourite films 'Tunes of Glory' which was taken from James Kennoway's book. It’s set in a fictitious Scottish castle in winter time. In fact a lot of the exterior shots were filmed in and around Stirling Castle.

Although filmed in the home of the Argylls and the officers are wearing Cameron kilts, the regiment it was based on was the one Kennoway served in just after the war in Edinburgh; 1st Battalion Gordon Highlanders

He had joined the Camerons just after the war but transferred to the Gordons and didn’t enjoy his time in the regiment. You can probably get that vibe from the book and the film.

Coincidentally the writer George MacDonald Fraser also served in the Gordon Highlanders at the same time. First with the 2nd Battalion in Libya, and then with the 1st Battalion in Edinburgh when the two battalions merged in 1948.

MacDonald Fraser did enjoy his time with the regiment though and turned them into the amusing "General Danced at Dawn" trilogy.

His third book "McAuslan in the Rough" deals with his time in Edinburgh at the same time Kennoway was there.

What is fascinating is that in both books, which claim to be of fictional regiments, certain characters in them are quite clearly the same people and must be the men of 1st Bn Gordon Highlanders.

I'd heartily recommend the "General Danced at Dawn" series of books and "Tunes of Glory". If you read them back to back you'll recognise the martinet colonel, RSM, pipe sergeant, adjutant and other characters used by both authors.

Interestingly in the film there is a character Captain Rattray, a dark-haired, thickset officer played by Ricard Leech who is one of the ringleaders in the mess taking Major Sinclair's side against Colonel Barrow. I wonder if that was Kennoway's recollection of McDonald Fraser? Leech certainly has a resemblance to GMF and in his books GMF doesn't seem to care for his new colonel.

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