Scotland remembers

Posted on 11/08/2014 by


Scots pause to mark centenary of the Great War

drumheadThousands of people joined together in Edinburgh yesterday to take part in a Drumhead Service, procession and memorial to mark the outbreak of the First World War a hundred years ago.

Members of the public from across Scotland and representatives of the armed forces, veterans and cadets braved the rain to remember the sacrifice made by so many.

A congregation of more than five thousand attended the multi-faith service on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, which replicated those held on the front line 100 years ago when, in a long-held military tradition, neatly piled drums with draped Colours were used in place of an altar.

Thousands more lined the Royal Mile to watch a procession led by military bands, veterans and cadets, and followed the parade to a war memorial surrounded by over 1,000 replica Commonwealth War Graves in Holyrood Park.

It’s believed the Drumhead Service, procession and memorial was the first commemoration event of its scale to have ever been held in Scotland.

esplanadeIt was the first event in the five-year Scottish Commemorations programme which will remember eight events from World War One that had a significant impact on Scotland. They include the start and end of the war, major battles including Loos, Arras, Jutland and Gallipoli and domestic incidents such as the Quintinshill rail disaster and the loss of HMY Iolaire.

First Minister Alex Salmond (pictured below) said: “People from all walks of life and from across Scotland stood side by side today with representatives of the armed forces, veterans and cadets to remember the sacrifice made by so many in Scotland, across the Commonwealth and around the world.

“Today’s events were a fitting commemoration of the appalling loss of life in the conflict which began a century ago. Over the next five years we will ask the people of Scotland to join us in remembering a further seven events from the First World War that had a particularly significant impact on Scotland.

“I would encourage the people of Scotland and those with connections to this country to recognise the significant and broad impact the Great War had on our nation, and to reflect on its lasting social and civic legacy. We must never forget.”

salmond wreathBrigadier David Allfrey, Producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and chief organiser of the Drumhead Service, procession and memorial, said: “Today’s event was designed to stimulate the public’s imagination on what it might have been like to leave home and workplaces – with their structure and familiarity – to enlist in the Armed Forces in 1914 and, in a few short weeks, adapt to a martial way of life; being thrown together with strangers, learning foot drill, wearing uniform, dealing with strange equipment, adopting a new lexicon and learning skill at arms.

procession“The procession provided the opportunity to ‘walk in step’ – to march – to the sound of the pipes and drums through Edinburgh streets, towards new experiences and challenges – in 1914 this would have been the march to the railhead or the port for deployment to Europe.

“In Holyrood Park, we set out to transit and arrange the public in a manner reminiscent of military assembly areas, where the needs and wishes of the individual are subordinate to that of the group, before moving into ‘The Line’ to wait for the whistles – a ‘call to action’.

“Finally, in the Memorial, we offered an opportunity for communities and individuals to mark the national sacrifice and reflect on how the First World War has shaped our world and the here and now. I hope, with the conversation begun, we might all think a little more deeply about the 1914 – 1919 tragedy and perhaps draw more from it.”


Norman Drummond, Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, said: “The WW100 Scotland Drumhead Service and Opening Commemorative Events have marked an important step on the journey of education and genealogy and legacy.

“Cultivating memory as a tool for the living, the service and procession and memorial evoked a real sense of reflection upon “the war that was meant to end all wars” and from which people throughout Scotland and beyond may ask “What do we learn from all this?”