Captain Freddie Macnair and his father, Lieutenant Colonel William Macnair, recall the influences that made them join the Army and the importance of family tradition.
I grew up on British military bases. I was born in Berlin. So obviously it's been a feature of my life. And then actually when I was at school I went rather off the Army. And then when I went to university I joined the OTC [Officer Training Corps] and decided that actually I would be keen to give it a go after I left university.
And the obvious choice was the family regiment. So I didn't think of really joining anyone else because the connections were there. And actually it was something that I remembered growing up as being a sort of happy place and a sort of good regimental tradition with lots of friends of Dad still about or serving.
And there were actually people in the battalion when I first joined that had been with Dad. One, a corporal who'd got out and then got back in, Corporal Cameron, who was quite long in the tooth by that point, but claimed to have been in Dad's platoon in the '70s. And there were a couple of LE [Late Entry] officers that were still there that had served with Dad as well. So the family connections still continued and the people knew of the family when I turned up.
I think that one of the main reasons why people who come from Army families many of them end up in the Army themselves is not because anybody makes them. I certainly never encouraged any of my three boys to join the Army. I did encourage them to join the Officer Training Corps because I think that that was valuable whatever you're going to do. (So what I'm wearing here [points to regimental tie] was the same unit Freddie was in when he became an officer for the first time.) So I did encourage them to join the Officer Training Corps, but his two brothers haven't gone on to join the Army.
And as far as my own life's concerned, my own decision, I had wanted to be in the Army and I had one brother who joined as well. But I think that the fundamental thing is that if you come from an Army family it's something that you automatically consider. Whether you then decide to do it or not is entirely up to you. But nobody in my family ever gave me any pressure to do so.
My grandfather on my mother's side, General Neville Cameron, was keen - because the military family had finished with my uncle Willie - he was keen that somebody at least of his grandsons, of which he had quite a lot, would continue the tradition. And I was the first of his grandsons.
So at that point I inherited his sword. And now Freddie's got his sword. And it's quite an interesting sword because it's actually sharpened for war and it's got scratches on from the Battle of Atbara in 1898. And I carried the sword on the presentation of new Colours. And you presumably wore it as well, did you, at the last presentation of new Colours with the Duke of Edinburgh. [Freddie nods]
I wouldn't mind if my grandchildren, if I ever get any, joined the Army, but I would always take exactly the same view as I have about my own sons. If they wanted to do it, I would be very supportive and encouraging, but I wouldn't ever want to push anybody. I've seen the results of people being pushed into the Army and I think it always ends in disaster.
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