Achnacarry House lies in the Scottish Highlands, and was built on the ruins of Achnacarry Castle, which was first built on the site in 1655, on the isthmus between Loch Lochy and Loch Arkaig.
The original Achnacarry was destroyed after the Rising of 1745, the estate was forfeited to the Crown, and the Camerons did not regain it until 1784. Around 1802, the 22nd chief decided to build a new house and chose James Gillespie Graham as his architect. His wife disliked the Highlands and after their separation, he abandoned the project, and Achnacarry would not be completed until their son eventually became chief.
During World War II, Cameron of Lochiel vacated Achnacarry, handing it over to the British military, and the house was to become one of the most significant training centres of the war, when the Commando Basic Training Centre (CBTC) was based there. The house was also known as Achnacarry Castle, or Castle Commando.
Between 1942 and 1945, almost 25,000 servicemen would pass through the the place they would refer to as The Castle. British, English, Scottish, Irish, Welsh, French, Belgian, American, Dutch, and Norwegian soldiers undertook the basic Commando training course at Achnacarry, under the scrutiny of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Vaughan, for the right to wear the coveted Green Beret, and would undergo a period of training designed to stretch their stamina to the utmost.
The house did not escape this period unscathed, and on November 5, 1943, a fire would gut the centre section of the building and the roof. The roof was replaced by the military, using tin, and Lochiel received a degree of compensation for the loss. Achnacarry is said to have suffered a second fire at the hands of the British military, which it also survived, but there are no further details found so far.
The house has returned to its former status as the seat of the Clan Cameron, but it is still regarded worldwide as the historical and spiritual home of the Commandos.
Further research carried out in 2014
An archaeological dig due to last several months began on the site in April 2014.
Earlier excavations uncovered live ammunition, including bullets for captured German weapons, which those training in the area used to gain experience. Commando role: Uncovering WW2 elite training centre.
1 ⇑ Commando role: Uncovering WW2 elite training centre Retrieved 06/04/2014.
- Castle Commando, the story of the instructors and staff at Achnacarry
- West Highland Museum, Fort William
- History of Achnacarry, past and present
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