“It’s quite a transition from leaving the military to trying to settle back into Civvy Street,” says Alistair Black, 66 from Banchory.

Alistair joined the Merchant Navy when he left school in 1963 at the age of 16. He then left the Navy in 1967 and joined the Army.  He served in the Royal Scots Greys until they amalgamated in 1971 and remained as a serving member of the new Regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, until he left the Army in 1989.

He has many fond memories from his time in the Army. Alistair served mainly in Germany with postings in the UK and Cyprus.  He also did active tours in Northern Ireland and enjoyed live training. One of his first exercises involved him staying in the middle of the Libyan Desert.

He remembers:

“We were the second last group to go there before Gadhafi kicked us out, it was a great experience living in the desert and coming across remnants of World War II and avoiding the minefields which, if I remember correctly, were quite numerous. It was just a great and exciting experience.”

In Germany, he commanded a troop of three Chieftain Tanks.

“I loved tanks and everything about them. I think the part I liked was I knew everything that was going on in the battlefield. It was such an adrenalin rush too and a great time in my career.” 

It was in one of his postings at the Gunnery School in Lulworth Cove, Dorset that he met his wife in 1970. They have two daughters.

Alistair has been awarded for his time served in the Army. He was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal as well as the United Nations and Northern Ireland Medals. He was also awarded the Duke of Kent Medal for services to the Regiment. 

After leaving the Army, Alistair had various jobs and in 1996 he became the Waste Manager, Operations, at Aberdeenshire Council. 

What Alistair enjoyed most about his time in the Army was the camaraderie.

“You all supported each other through thick and thin.  You were a family and that is still prevalent today through the Royal British Legion Scotland and the Regimental Association.”

He added:

“The whole aspect of Army life changed my future, I left school with no education certificates to my name and although I wasn't stupid, the subject I was best at was playing truant.  The Merchant Navy gave me some good training but the Army really changed my life. They educated me and trained me and that gave me the confidence to go for jobs that I would never have dreamed possible. I would say I owe everything I have achieved to the Services for the education the confidence and of course the things you learn from your friends and colleagues during your time together.  It was a 22 year learning curve for me and I have no regrets whatsoever.”

Alistair is now retired and dedicates most of his time to Legion Scotland and the Regimental Association.

Alistair joined Legion Scotland in 1989 after leaving the army as a Staff Sergeant. He is now the Chairman of the Banchory Branch. He is also the Chairman of the Legion’s Aberdeen, Banff and Kincardine area. 

“What is so important about the Legion is what it stands for.  It is a Charity that raises money for ex-service charities over and above the amount of effort that goes into raising money for the Scottish Poppy Appeal.  It is also a place where servicemen can go for help when they come out of the services and to provide knowledge, experience and support,” he says.