“Greetings from the Somme: 1 July 2018 – A message from Lt Col Gary Tait MBE
This morning at 09.15 hrs in the village of Contalmaison, Picardy, France, a service of Remembrance marking the 102 nd anniversary of the Battle of the Somme commenced. The standard of the Royal Scots Association was marched on to the beat of their Regimental Quick March, Dumbarton's Drums, and smartly took post at the Cairn. This signified the beginning of a service which has been conducted annually since the unveiling of the Cairn in 2004 and commemorates the soldiers of the 15 th and 16 th Battalions of the Royal Scots, City of Edinburgh 1 st and 2 nd respectively. These Battalions were raised to fight in Kitchener's New Army and found their true baptism of fire on that dreadful day. Of particular note, and focus of the Cairn, is the memory of the 16 th , known as “Sir George McCrae's Own” for within their ranks they represented every part of the community of Edinburgh, every walk of life, every class of citizen and the very beating heart of our Capital city.
The service remembers the terrible sacrifices made by so many on the 1 st of July 1916, some 102 years ago today which marked the commencement of the Battle of the Somme, so heavily etched in our collective consciousness. We remembered the British and French Forces along with the enemy of the day, the German Forces. We remembered our commonwealth and dominion Forces especially those from the Royal Newfoundland and Labrador Regiment who suffered appalling losses at Beaumont Hamel this very same day. We remembered the people of Contalmaison and the surrounding area, their lives completely upturned in that hell that was one of the most sinister of battlefields. We remembered them all and commemorated their sacrifice.
The Madam Mayor of Contalmaison, Patricia Leroy, sends her warmest of greetings to the good people of Edinburgh today, acknowledging the strong and lasting links between us all that were forged that fateful day. She and the villagers enjoy the company of the pilgrims of McCrae's Battalion Trust each year and we all look to think positively in remembering the soldiers of the 16 th as we socialise outside the Sal de Fete, across from the Cairn in a manner that boys and Sir George would be proud and happy to join in on. They fought, fell and survived so that life could thrive.
We wish you well and join with you across the miles in Edinburgh as you too remember those who fell. We will be with each step of the way to McCrae's Place and the laying of the wreath outside the Usher hall in McCrae's Place.
From somewhere in France………
Lt Col Gary Tait MBE
McCrae's Battalion Trust”
The above message was read out to the Congregation by the Rev. Peter Sutton at the commencement of the 11 o'clock Service in St Cuthbert's on Sunday 1 July which was attended by many people who had come along to recognise the ultimate sacrifice made by all the young men who had laid down their lives on that fateful day 102 years ago. The address was delivered by Padre Andrew Oliver, Chaplain to the The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2 nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.
At the end of the service, poppy wreaths in memory of those who died were brought forward to the altar of the church and blessed before being piped out of the church. The Piper and Wreath Bearers were followed by the great majority of those who had attended the church service and processed to the McCrae's Battalion Plaque on the steps of the Usher Hall in McCrae's Place. Once everyone was gathered around the Plaque a short service of commemoration was held and the wreaths were placed and dedicated to the fallen. With t he passing of the 100 centenary years of the 1914 – 18 War this Act of Remembrance on the steps of the Usher Hall on 1 July 2018 will become an annual event.
Over the centenary years of WW1 St Cuthbert's has held 3 services to commemorate this truly remarkable Battalion which was raised in its parish. The first service was held on 28 th November 2014 to commemorate the raising of the Battalion, the second on 1 July 2016 to commemorate the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the third, this year, which is the subject of this report. Over these years a strong and lasting relationship has been forged between St Cuthbert's and McCrae's Battalion Trust and both organisations look forward to working together in the years to come. We also greatly appreciate the long stand support of our outreach partners business matters and Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland and, in particular, for helping to advertise this and past services.
Joint Administrator of OASIS
Serving the business community in Edinburgh's city centre.