Major Roddy Balfour TD remembered

February 13, 2024
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Roddy Balfour

Major Roderick Anthony Christopher Balfour TD (Roddy). Territorial Army Officer, Selected Military Member of the Northern Area, HRFCA, and Armed Forces and Veterans Champion of the Highland Council.

Major Roddy Balfour, who died peacefully in Nairn County Hospital on 11 January 2024, began his military service in Sydney University Regiment, an officer training regiment of the Australian Army Reserve as a piper and also in A Company (The New South Wales Scottish), 2nd Bn Royal New South Wales Regiment which was affiliated to The Black Watch (The Royal Highland Regiment).

After moving to work in the Scottish Highlands for the Highlands and Islands Development Board, Roddy was commissioned as a full Lieutenant in the British Territorial Army on 21 December 1971. He was described in the official Gazette entry as “late Lt, Australian Army”, and was granted seniority on 15 April 1966 which no doubt was to reflect his Australian service, part of which was on attachment to Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities Officers’ Training Corps.

All his UK commissioned service was with the 2nd Battalion 51st Highland Volunteers. He served initially with the Battalion’s C (Queen’s Own Highlanders) Company with its headquarters in Inverness. He was promoted to Captain in 1973, and commanded C Company in the early 1980s.

Six pipers pose with Roddy Balfour (left).
Major Roddy Balfour (left) with a group of pipers in 1981.

He was awarded the Territorial Decoration for 12 years of efficient commissioned service in 1981.

Roddy was then assigned to the Battalion’s HQ Company based in Elgin, where his military duties combined very well with his appointment as the President of the Battalion’s Pipes and Drums. Roddy brought to that role his deep affection for the Highlands and its rural communities. The band successfully recruited pipers from places such as Skye where the TA had given up its drill halls.

The Pipes and Drums had numerous successes in competitions, and were selected by the Army to play in events such as the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony at Edinburgh in 1986. In the same year, they played as the Battalion received Colours from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. His Commanding Officer at this time, remembers Roddy’s role in galvanising the Pipes and Drums.

Obtaining his permanent promotion to Major in 1984, Roddy commanded HQ Company until 1989 when he finally transferred to the Reserve of Officers. He was presented with the pipe tune “Major Roderick Balfour” composed by Piper SG Bell 51st Highland Volunteers.

Thereafter he continued to take a close interest in the Armed Forces and Veterans, as a Selected Military Member of the Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association and as Armed Forces and Veterans Champion of the Highland Council. Whilst always reluctant to take individual credit, it was fitting that Roddy accepted on behalf of Highland Council the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Award for supporting the Armed Forces community. This was presented at Edinburgh Castle in October 2021 (pictured, below).

ERS Gold Award winners.
Roddy Balfour (second left) with the Highland Council team and (right) Edinburgh Castle Governor Major General Alastair Bruce.

Three of Roddy’s Commanding Officers from 2/51 Highland and many of his other former comrades attended his Memorial Service in Fort George Regimental Chapel on 7 February. Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Young TD DL provided the military component of a eulogy which also reflected his many other career achievements and lifelong service to his community.