Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:53:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Project Honours Scotland’s First World War Dead Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:36:10 +0000 Nadine Lee Pipers and drummers from the 7th Battalion. Picture: Gordon Highlanders Museum

Pipers and drummers from the 7th Battalion. Picture: Gordon Highlanders Museum

Prince Charles has chosen a 20-year-old former royal servant from Deeside who never returned from the Western Front to be a focal point for a major project honouring Scotland’s First World War dead.

The prince selected Private Robert Duguid, who had been a labourer at Birkhall on the Royals’ Balmoral Estate, as someone who was “typical” of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the conflict.

Pte Duguid’s name is read each Remembrance Sunday along with those of 27 other First World War dead on the Crathie War Memorial between Balmoral Castle and Crathie Kirk, where the Royal Family worship.

He enlisted in the 7th (Dee-side) Battalion The Gordon Highlanders at Banchory in March 1915. The Highlanders saw some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict including at the Somme, Ypres and Ancre.

Still a teenager, Pte Duguid arrived in France eight months after enlisting and was killed in action at Arras on 29 May, 1917. How he died is unclear.

The prince was sent nine names from the Crathie War Memorial as part of a project by the charity Glen Art to honour Scottish First World War veterans during this year’s centenary commemorations.

Charles was particularly moved by the story of Pte Duguid, who was born at Glenmuick on 20 January 1897, the son of George and Mary Duguid of Ballater. The local community helped research Pte Duguid’s background and history for the project Voices of the First World War, which will tour Scotland later this year featuring a local soldier in each area. He will be the focus when the project comes to the Balmoral area.

A spokeswoman for the prince said: “HRH has selected Private Robert Duguid from the Crathie War Memorial, who was a woods labourer at Birkhall.

“One of the aims of the performances during the Glen Art’s Scottish tour is for the audience to learn about the immense bravery of their local servicemen and women who served their country.

“Private Duguid is typical of so many young men from rural Scotland who made the ultimate sacrifice – and whose final resting place has sadly never been found.”

Pte Duguid is noted in the “War Service Roll of the Members of the Royal Households and Estate of the King and the Queen” and is also commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.

But finding his final resting place is an almost impossible task. The scale of casualties in the war was unprecedented, with thousands of soldiers buried on the battlefields in individual or communal graves by their comrades. They were often buried where they fell in action and in many cases it was impossible to find a complete body for burial.

The Crathie War Memorial, decorated with a Celtic cross and sword, was unveiled by King George V in September 1922 and is dedicated to men from Balmoral killed in the conflict.

“Most of these men would have known King George V personally and later the Queen Mother,” said the Rev Kenneth MacKenzie, domestic chaplain to the Queen and minister for Crathie Kirk. “The gamekeepers and stalkers were particularly highly regarded by the military because of their skills.

“I am sure the prince would have chosen Private Duguid because of the Birkhall connection. The prince knows many of the families that work on the estate.”

Opera singer Fiona MacDonald, who runs Glen Art, named the charity after her great aunt Mary McKinnon who served as a nurse and was killed on the Glenart Castle, a hospital ship that was torpedoed in 1918.

This article was first published by Mike Merritt in the Scotsman.

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Last Wishes Of Fallen WWI Scots Soldiers to be Published Online Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:15:37 +0000 Nadine Lee The wills of 26,000 Scottish soldiers who died in the First World War are to be made available online for the first time as part of centenary commemorations marking the outbreak of the conflict.

The Battle of the Somme

The Battle of the Somme

The last wishes of fallen Scottish soldiers will be made available online by the National Records of Scotland.

Among the 26,000 individual wills are 2584 from the Gordon Highlanders, including those of privates Alexander Craig and John Wood from Portlethen, Aberdeenshire.

Privates Craig and Wood were both born into fishing families, but when war broke out in August 1914 they joined the army, along with many other men from their coastal community.

Wood served in the 1/5th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders while Craig was in the 1/7th battalion.

In autumn 1916 these two battalions formed part of the 51st Highland Division, tasked with the capture of part of the German lines at Beaumont Hamel in the final phase of the Battle of the Somme.

Both men were killed in action in the attack. Craig was 25 and Wood just 18.

Welcoming the project, First Minister Alex Salmond said: “This year, when we mark the centenary of the start of the Great War, we reflect on the sacrifices made by generations of service men and women, including those currently serving.

“Digitally archiving all 26,000 wills online presents a unique glimpse into the lives of the individuals who fought and fell for our freedom.”

Brigadier David Allfrey MBE, chief executive of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and member of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, said access to the wills of these young men will help current and future generations learn more about the soldiers, their families and circumstances at a “pivotal time” in our nation’s history.

Throughout 2014 people in communities across Scotland will gather together and remember the sacrifice made during the First World War.

This story was originally published by STV.

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Kiev Bagpiper Inspired by Scots Soldiers Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:02:41 +0000 Nadine Lee Eugene the Piper plays 'Bonnie Galloway' during protests in Kiev

Eugene the Piper plays ‘Bonnie Galloway’ during protests in Kiev

As violence and unrest continues to engulf Kiev, footage emerged last week of a brave bagpiper playing ‘Bonnie Galloway’ as bullets hurtled past. Known simply as Eugene, the Ukrainian piper gave a rendition of the famous Scots tune despite having being shot in the ear with a rubber bullet.

The self taught piper told the Daily Record he was inspired to play during the protests by Scottish pipers who marched with soldiers at war. He said his experience had made it possible for him to imagine what pipers felt during battles, stating he played to support the protestors fighting to remain independent of Russia.

“When musicians play during a riot, it means the people involved are not terrorists or extremists. It means they are normal people fighting for their rights and their state. I was emotional given what was happening around me.”

After being hit, Eugene only stopped playing the pipes due to the plunging temperatures. He described how police fired plastic pellets during the protests at the spot where he was standing with journalists, saying: “Fragments hit my hands and face but I was fortunate they did not hit my eyes.”

Eugene said he believes music is very important when people are fighting for their future. “It does not matter even what instrument you play but, oddly enough, the great ­Scottish bagpipes fit very well into this role. In most cases I played Ukrainian folk tunes and people reacted positively. People thanked me and asked me to play more as the bagpipes gave them moral support.”

Eugene has been playing for five years and has performed at Scottish-themed weddings and functions in Ukraine. Despite his passion for piping, Eugene has never been to Scotland. He said: “I would like to see real teachers of piping so I can learn properly.”

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Clan Munro Boosts Highlanders Museum Revamp Thu, 04 Apr 2013 15:55:59 +0000 Nadine Lee Left to right Hector Munro of Foulis, Major General Seymour Monro and Lt Col Patrick Gascoigne with two of the swords from the vast collection of artifacts.

Left to right Hector Munro of Foulis, Major General Seymour Monro and Lt Col Patrick Gascoigne with two of the swords from the vast collection of artifacts.

Clan Munro has helped to bring a Highland military museum fundraising campaign one step closer to victory.

Hector Munro of Foulis, Chief of Clan Munro, has donated £15,000 on behalf of the clan and wider family to the Highlander’s Museum fundraising appeal. The Highlanders are the descendents of Scottish Regiments originally raised from the clans and communities of the Highlands and Islands in the late 1700’s.

Major General Seymour Monro, museum and appeal chairman said: “All three of our original regiments – Seaforths, Camerons and Lovat Scouts – were raised by the Clan Chief or their close relative – and there has always been a strong and natural link between the regiments and the clans which continues today.”

“This enduring link is a fundamental element of the heritage of the Highlands and Islands. We are delighted and grateful that the Clan Munro, led by its Chief, Hector Munro and his wider family, has been to the fore in contributing to this museum project. As a member of the clan, I am doubly proud!”

Hector Munro of Foulis, Clan Chief, said: “A clan was an extended family group formed into an elaborate web of relationships by intermarriage and set up for mutual protection and benefit. The destruction of the old clan system was the price of Jacobite failure but it was a simple transition for the natural warrior instinct of the clans to seamlessly reappear in the Highland regiments.

“In the last two hundred years many Munros and twenty-seven of my immediate family have served with distinction in The Seaforth Highlanders and their successor regiments. I am particularly grateful to my relatives, descended from Stirling and Gascoigne marriages for contributing so magnificently to The Highlanders’ Museum Appeal.”

The Highlander’s Museum covers three floors of Fort George’s former Lieutenant Governors’ House. The museum has roughly 20,000 artifacts and an estimated 10,000 documents and photographs. The Development Project is set to take three years to complete, transforming the museum into a facility where visitors will be inspired by the history of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland as told through the Region’s Army regiments.

The appeal has raised £2.78 million so far with £100,000 still to go. Information on how to donate can be found at

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Iraq War – A Serving Scottish Soldier’s View Thu, 04 Apr 2013 12:06:45 +0000 Nadine Lee Sergeant Major Scott Shaw

Sergeant Major Scott Shaw

As part of BBC Scotland’s series remembering the Iraq War which began 10 years ago, Regimental Sergeant Major Scott Shaw of the Black Watch shares his experience.

Click here to watch the video –

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Black Watch Statue set for Belgium Thu, 04 Apr 2013 11:17:39 +0000 Nadine Lee A working model of the statue.

A working model of the statue.

A statue of a Black Watch soldier is to be unveiled in Belgium in 2014, commemorating more than 8,000 soldiers and officers of the regiment who lost their lives in the First World War. 20,000 men from the regiment were injured during the war.

Set to be placed in an area known as Black Watch Corner near Ypres, the statue will overlook a battlefield where the First Battalion made a heroic stand in November 1914.

Colonel Alex Murdoch, chairman of the Black Watch Association said the site was chosen because of the importance of events that stopped the German advance. “Along with other withdrawing British forces, (The Black Watch) fought against a numerically stronger force from the Kaiser’s Prussian Guard in November 1914. The action brought to an end the First Battle of Ypres and their heroic stand was to prove decisive because it stopped the German advance to the coast.”

“If they had broken through to the coast, the war would have been over and lost.”

A clay prototype of the 4.5 meter kilted soldier was revealed in Edinburgh yesterday. The completed bronze statue will stand on a Scottish Granite plinth and depict a Black Watch soldier in a kilt, jacket and bonnet, which was fighting uniform at the time, along with a Lee Enfield rifle and 18-inch bayonet.

The unveiling will mark the start of four years of commemorative centenary events remembering the sacrifices of everyone who fought in the 1914-18 conflict. Plans are being made for 200 veterans and serving soldiers to travel to Belgium next spring to unveil the statue and pay tribute to the fallen.

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Black Watch Returns to Glasgow Fri, 29 Mar 2013 10:14:33 +0000 Nadine Lee Black Watch 2012 Production

Black Watch 2012 Production

The award-winning play Black Watch is returning to Glasgow from Wednesday 28th March until Saturday 13th April. Written by Gregory Burke and presented by The National Theatre of Scotland, the play tells the story of Black Watch soldiers serving in Operation TELIC in Iraq in 2004.

Sold out in Glasgow on three previous occasions, the play has been praised by critics since it was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2006. In a review published by the Guardian, James Denselow said the play acts as a reminder of the distance between those who fight our wars and those back home who try and understand them. “Black Watch is fueled by a relentless energy that is a potent reminder of the prime of life, so quickly transformed into death, severe physical or mental injury. It is also a reminder of the great distance between the British population and the wars fought in its name.”

Based on interviews with former soldiers, the play takes viewers from a pool room in Fife to the heart of the battlefield in Iraq while exploring what it means to be part of the famous Scottish Regiment. The production has been seen by 212,000 people across the world, most recently making its debut at the National Theatre of Korea in Seoul. The 2013 production is directed by John Tiffany and stars Stuart Martin, Benjamin Davies, Stephen McCole and Robert Jack.

For more information, please visit the National Theatre of Scotland website.

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Excavation of Edinburgh’s WWI Trenches Begins Mon, 18 Feb 2013 15:20:06 +0000 Nadine Lee Officer William Ewart Gladstone-Millar of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders trained in the “Dreghorn sludge”.

Officer William Ewart Gladstone-Millar of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders trained in the “Dreghorn sludge”.

At almost 100 years old, excavation and examination work has begun on Dreghorn Barrack’s WWI trench training system by world renowned archeologists. Originally dug by the 16th Battalion The Royal Scots before they served in France, the trenches provided the only experience Scots soldiers had of trench warfare before arriving on the Western Front.

Experts are hoping the study will lay bare the secrets of trench design and any methods used to keep up with the initially superior trench-building German forces.

Local historian Lynne Gladstone-Millar, who has been campaigning to save the trenches for ten years, said she was extremely pleased the trenches have been recognised as a place of national significance. Her father, William Ewart Gladstone-Millar was a young officer in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and trained in the ‘Dreghorn Sludge’ before winning the Military Cross during the Great War.

Lynne remembers her father saying: “There was a very specialised kind of mud there. We called it “Dreghorn Sludge’. It caked on to your kilt so that the peats lacerated your chapped knees like knives. It always seemed to be raining , and day in day out, we had to plunge in and out of these trenches, getting soggier and soggier. And then there was the march back to Mortonhall [Edinburgh]. It was not done to complain – among the officers anyway.” Officer Gladstone-Millar was shot in both legs after going over the top at the Battle of the Somme, and crawled his way back to his own lines. He was later awarded the Military Cross after capturing an enemy machine gun nest at the Second Battle of the Marne.

The excavation team – made up of archaeologists from the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), the council and specialists from the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Battlefield Archaeology – will chart the route and condition of the trenches before making recommendations for future management of the site.

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Royal Scots WWI Mystery Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:35:09 +0000 Nadine Lee The Mystery Royal Scots Soldier

The Mystery Royal Scots Soldier

A researcher is appealing for help to identify a picture of an unknown Royal Scots soldier in time for the WWI centenary. Alistair McEwan, creator of the online archive Edinburgh’s War, found the solitary picture in a book of autographs collected by a teenager at the YMCA ‘American Hut’ site in Edinburgh’s Saint Andrew’s Square during the Great War.

The book belonged to Elizabeth Edgar, who would help her mother at the hut tending to visiting servicemen. The hut was a stop-off point for war-weary soldiers on their way home from duties in Europe and featured cinematography and billiards tables. Elizabeth collected autographs, sketches and poetry from servicemen, including Lance Corporal R W Brown, of the 9th Scottish Rifles, who wrote on March 8, 1917: “What? Write in a book, Where ladies look, and critics spy? Not I, Not I.”

The photograph, found inside the book, also included a dedication to Elizabeth. McEwan said it’s possible the two knew each other – “We would be very keen to identify him as it would be nice for the family that gave me the autograph book to find out who he was.”

He said little was known about the entertainment complex which encompassed the entirety of Saint Andrew’s Square, apart from information from a news article dated March 14, 1919. Volunteers would run the tented centre, which could house up to 250 servicemen, offering a 125-seat dining room and fun and games for up to 500. The piece told of “a spacious lounge with an information bureau, a newspaper and postcard stand” and a kitchen with “the latest appliances”. There were “conveniences such as shower baths and individual lockers” and it said meals were excellent both in quality and value, costing 1s 6d for three courses, with tea, coffee, or cocoa to follow.

The pages from the book will be uploaded to the Edinburgh’s War website in early 2013. Edinburgh’s War is a collaborative virtual history project between the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh City Libraries, local historians and community groups. The project aims to tell the story of the people and institutions of Edinburgh, Leith and the Lothians during the war years of 1914 to 1918. McEwan said the approaching centenary of WWI has reaffirmed interest in the project. “There’s the history hub at the library if anyone wants to bring any letters, archives, medals or photographs for interpretation or if they have any information on this unidentified soldier.”

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WWII Hero’s Memoirs Found in Picnic Basket Sat, 16 Feb 2013 21:13:37 +0000 admin A SPECIAL exhibition in Dumfries called Who Dares Wins is telling the story of the courageous captain, who was originally from Lockerbie.
A dust-covered picnic basket which lay untouched in an attic for decades has revealed the remarkable story of a Scots World War II hero.

The incredible exploits of Captain Cecil Leyland Riding MC – who was in the Special Air Service – were revealed after his death when his relatives found medals, memoirs, photographs and citations telling of his bravery.

And now an exhibition called Who Dares Wins – which takes its name from the SAS motto – is telling the courageous captain’s inspirational story.

The display at Dumfries Museum details how Captain Riding was part of one of the first SAS groups parachuted into Nazi-occupied France after D-Day in 1944.

He served across occupied western Europe during 1944 and 1945, including taking part in the liberation of Norway and the allied forces’ advance into Germany.

The captain – who grew up in Lockerbie and spent his latter years in Dumfries – was awarded five medals for his heroics, including the prestigious Military Cross.

His nephew David Riding said: “Cecil never talked about his wartime exploits.

“I knew he had been awarded the Military Cross for taking over command of the SAS team when his commanding officer was shot shortly after landing in France but had no idea of the details.

“After Cecil’s death we found the memorabilia in his loft and could piece together the story from what was there.

“Cecil returned to France many times for reunions and memorial services as his team had formed a close bond with the Resistance and French public who had aided them in their exploits to harass the enemy.

“Cecil was 28 when he was parachuted behind enemy lines. It’s amazing what these young men achieved.”

The collection found in loft

The collection found in loft

Captain Riding grew up near Lockerbie, working as a factor before moving to Glasgow, where he met his wife Janie.

He joined the Coldstream Guards in 1940 and was commissioned to the Highland Light Infantry in 1941.

In February 1944, he joined the SAS and after D-Day was parachuted into northern France.

He jumped with a carrier pigeon strapped to his chest which he used to send information back to Britain.

Leading a team of five men, he was responsible for blowing up the Montarges to Paris train line.

Memoirs detail how Captain Riding often had to pretend to be German to evade Nazi forces as he sent intelligence back to London.

He cheated death twice when German troops discovered the SAS camps and obliterated them.

In one of the attacks, his commanding officer and two fellow soldiers were killed.

As well as the Military Cross, Captain Riding was awarded the Star, the France and Germany Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal.

After his service, he returned to Scotland, living near Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, before moving with Janie to work with the Bombay Burma Trading Company in 1956, spending time in Burma and Borneo.

They returned to Scotland in 1967 and Captain Riding worked in Falkirk as a land valuation officer.

In 1971, he moved to Dumfries, where he stayed until his death in 1998.

After the picnic basket of war memorabilia was found, the family handed it into Dumfries Museum and it became clear to staff that it was a fascinating collection.

Museum officer Fiona Wilson said: “There were his medals but there was also a handwritten memoir giving incredible detail about his experiences.

“The objects that he chose to keep tell us so much about his time in the SAS and what was happening in France and Germany during that period of World War II.

“They make a tangible connection with the people and events we can only read about today.

“The detailed personal memoir from Cecil’s time with the SAS was originally recorded in shorthand and then in longhand.

“We have letters from his commanders as well as the citation for his Military Cross.

“Among other items, he kept various maps of France, a code sheet printed on silk, miniature medical kits, a compass disguised as a button and, of course, his cap with the SAS badge, complete with motto Who Dares Wins.

“This is an incredible collection for a local family to have handed over to us as it contains such a variety of objects and documents.

“Sometimes all that is kept are a soldier’s medals but here we have Cecil’s personal account of his experiences and so much more.”

The exhibition is at Dumfries Museum until next January.

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