Desert Rats chair hands control to Army

Rod Scott at the Desert Rats day and parade at the memorial near Mundford on Sunday. <0627>Photo: Bi

Rod Scott at the Desert Rats day and parade at the memorial near Mundford on Sunday. <0627> Photo: Bill Smith Copy: Cat Bartman For: EDP / TWT news EDP pics © 2004 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2004

The chairman of the Desert Rats Association is stepping down after 15 years and is handing over control to the Army.

Rod Scott and his wife Tina have been at the head of the association since taking over from founder chairman Les Dinning.

They organised annual reunion events and Armistice Day celebrations at High Ash, where the association was based before leaving for D-Day in 1944.

Their first Armistice Day event eight years ago was attended by 17 people, but the most recent service attracted around 800.

After turning 70 in January, Mr Scott decided it was time to relinquish control of the organisation.

He said: 'I have had a whole lot of fun doing this. It has been extremely hard work, but it is time to hand over to younger blood. They will do things that are different, but hopefully they will keep it going.

'We're now left with very few original Desert Rats, all of whom I will stay in contact with. The Duchess and me call them 'our Desert Rats'.

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'Those who served and those who are serving with the Desert Rats are soldiers. The Army needs to deal with them – for a civilian to do it is very tricky.'

Formed in north Africa in 1938, the Desert Rats, with their red jerboa emblem, still exist as the 7th Infantry Brigade, which includes the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Its patrons include the Duchess of Cornwall and General Sir Adrian Bradshaw.

According to Mr Scott, the Desert Rats is one of three organisations formed during the Second World War which still exists today – the others being the Royal Marines and the Parachute Regiment.

One of the organisation's original veterans Albert Pond, 93, was present at an official hand-over ceremony at High Ash on Thursday along with members of the current committee.

Mr Scott said: 'It was a nice way to get everything connected. We handed it over properly, which was nice.

'Now the Army have got it, they will deal with it. We will be here to help and doubtless we will be at the open days and such.

'These people are coming up with new ideas I hadn't even thought of.'

After announcing his decision to step down, Mr Scott said he received letters and emails from the Duchess of Cornwall and General Bradshaw, as well as Les Dinning's widow.

'I found it very touching, because I didn't do this for praise,' he said.

The Scotts' places as chairman and secretary of the association will be filled by Major Simon Copley-Smith and Captain Lee Davison.

Mr Scott, a keen collector of military memorabilia, will stay involved with the association and has been proposed as its next vice president.