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First memorial unveiled on bloodied fields to honour fallen

 
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Woonplaats: Jabbeke, Flanders - Home of the Marine Jagdgeschwader in WW I

BerichtGeplaatst: 04 Sep 2007 22:37    Onderwerp: First memorial unveiled on bloodied fields to honour fallen Reageer met quote

First memorial unveiled on bloodied fields to honour fallen Scots heroes

Campaigners hope new Celtic cross will provide focal point for families remembering 148,218 troops killed in battle


THEFIRSTSCOTTISH MEMORIAL on the fields of the western front was unveiledinFlanders yesterday, a tribute to all Scotswhodiedinthe first world war. The Celtic Cross marks the importance of Scottish engagement in the Passchendaele region, where no commemoration to the many thousands killed in battle had previously existed.

It follows a two-year fundraising campaign by Scottish regiments to have a national landmark in Flanders similar to the Irish tower in Messines.

Minister for Europe Linda Fabiani, present at the unveiling, said: "This is an important landmark. There is now, finally, a memorial that acknowledges the contribution made by Scottish troops. On behalf of Scotland, I want to thank all those involved in erecting this Celtic cross.

"We are very proud of the brave men and women who gave their lives in defence of their country. I hope this monument will be visited by many people, young and old, as they come to reflect on the history of Passchendaele andcommemoratealltheScottish soldiers who played such an important part in the great war."

As part of the memorial weekend, the minister also attended an international tattoo involving Scottish and European bands and will take part in a walk at dawn this morning through the areas of the Scottish involvement during the Passchendaele campaign.

Memorialcampaignershopethe cross will become a landmark for the 300,000 people who visit each year, and allow families to pay proper respect to the memory of so many Scottish lives lost.

The offensive was one of the most important of the war, and three Scottish divisions fought throughout the battle for the ridge.

For a nation whose population numbered barely five million, Scotland made amassivecontribution.Altogether, 690,235 men served and casualties were high. Of these, 148,218 were "killed in the service of the Crown". Their names are listed in the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle, opened on July 14, 1928.

Most of those listed in the memorial's roll of honour were killed fighting on the western front. This was the main killing ground of the war, where the British sector stretched from the English Channel through the mud of Flanders to the chalk downlands of the Somme. Today their sacrifice is commemorated in the 600 war cemeteries which dot the landscape and by national war memorials - including the caribou war memorial to the Newfoundland dead at Beaumont Hamel and the Irish tower at Thiepval.

Their sacrifice was made in all the major battles. At Loos in September 1915, 30,000 Scots went into the attack and, of the 72 infantry battalions in the assault phase, half of them bore Scottish titles. Not since Culloden in 1746 had so many Scots been together on one battlefield. Casualties were high - an estimated 7000.

As the novelist Ian Hay described the carnage at Loos: "There is not a name on the list of those who died for Scotland which is not familiar to us. Big England's sorrow is national; little Scotland's is personal."

During the Battle of the Somme, fought between July and November 1916, two Scottish battalions were unique in fighting on the first and the last day - the 16th and 17th Highland Light Infantry. Of the 16th battalion, 554 became casualties within the opening hours of the opening attack on the Leipzig Salient.

The following year was a similar story. During the offensive at Arras in April 1917, 44 Scottish infantry battalions took part and 11,000 became casualties.

Fittingly, the Scottish monument is situated at Zonnebeke on the ground over which the Third Battle of Ypres, or Passchendaele, was fought in the summer of 1917. Three Scottish infantry divisions took part in the fighting and all suffered accordingly.

The battle lasted four months and accounted for 250,000 casualties, a third of them killed or drowned in the lagoons of mud covering the battlefield.

In his diary Private John Jackson, 1st Cameron Highlanders, never forgot the scenes that greeted the ordinary soldier: "These shell holes were often 10 to 12 feet deep and full up at this time with dirty, slimy water. At the bottom of them in many cases could be seen the bodies of dead men and mules, together with parts of wagons, the whole creating a stench that was rotten and sickening."

http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.1644292.0.first_memorial_unveiled_on_bloodied_fields_to_honour_fallen_scots_heroes.php
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