With sound on you should soon be listening to 'Little Green Flags' from Edinburgh Castle recorded by Pipe Major Angus MacDonald MBE, with tabla (Kamal Kant Sharma), sarod (Promod Shanker) and the Comex Singers of Zambia. Prince Philip is speaking.
After 200,000 miles travel along ancient land routes picked out by camels and donkeys over centuries, the little green flags, the symbol of Comex, were destined to become The Commonwealth Green Pennant Awards, inaugurated by Prince Philip in 1980 and endorsed at the 1995 CHOGM in New Zealand, recognizing 'adventurous activities across the barriers that divide people'.
This web site tells the remarkable story of a bold attempt to restore old friendships eroded by time and neglect. It is a tribute to the hundreds of thousands of people whose kindness and hospitality made the Comex expeditions possible.
The proposal for the future of Comex and The Green Pennant Awards moves this story forward.
The foreword to Together Unafraid, the ongoing story of Comex, by the first Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Professor Arnold Smith of Carleton University, is given below.
From: Professor Arnold Smith CH OC, first Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and patron of Comex in Canada.
I was still Commonwealth Secretary-General when Colonel Lionel Gregory – Greg to his friends – brought me the first manuscript of Together Unafraid and asked if I would write a foreword. The Book was taking shape in step with events that make up the story; but I had little idea that I should find myself patron of 'Comex Operations' in Canada at the end of it.
This is an aptly titled book telling the story of a series of Commonwealth expeditions (Comex), from Canada, Singapore and the United Kingdom to the foothills of the Himalayas and the plains of southern India. It is as racily told as the author's accounts of earlier exploits, as enlivened by his cheerfulness and as informed by his warmth.
At one level, it is the story of a battle (Greg's resort to military metaphor is infectious) against odds, both natural and man-made, of logistic skills and patient planning. On a more significant plane, it is a testament to idealism, a document of friendship across national boundaries, and proof that it is people that matter.
Together unafraid was completed after the Queen's Jubilee Commonwealth Expedition which demonstrated beyond any doubt what young people, and some not so young, can do together to foster that spirit of comradeship throughout the Commonwealth without which it would have little meaning.
Comex has inspired several hundreds of people who have participated in these expeditions, and carried its message to thousands of others who have come in contact with it, within and beyond the Commonwealth.
Greg draws much of his inspiration from the exploits of men like Raffles of Singapore, the battles fought out on the Carnatic plain between Wellington and Tipu Sultan; or more recently that great Commonwealth statesman Jawaharlal Nehru, who saw the Commonwealth as an instrument which brings 'a touch of healing' to a sometimes troubled world.
It was inevitable that Comex should bring him to North America too discover for himself, while travelling on the Canadian Pacific Railway, one of the greater Commonwealth adventures and to make friends across the country.
I was particularly pleased that Comex participation was broadened and its impetus strengthened by large numbers from all the provinces of Canada giving fuller expression to the Spirit of Ottawa that Commonwealth leaders had manifested at their meeting in the Canadian capital.
I commend this story and hope that it will inspire others to join in these rewarding exercises in friendship.
Web designed and produced by: Kevin Lacy (Comex 6) and Judith Parkinson (Comex 5,6,7 and 13)
Text by: Lionel Gregory
Special thanks to: Chris Brown-Syed (Comex 8), Stephen Stewart (Comex 3) and Norman Leigh (Comex 2, 3 and 11) for their advice and support.
Thanks also to Alan Waters (Comex 9 and 13) for the Comex photo archive, Lone Marslund (Comex 5) for the drawings and Sarah Lacy for the animations.