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First Minister of Scotland announces five year programme for First World War Centenary

Posted on centenarynews.com on 24 May 2013
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The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has announced a five year programme of events, lasting until 2019, to mark the Centenary of the First World War in Scotland.

Addressing the Royal British Legion Scotland's annual conference in Perth, the First Minister outlined his plans to mark key dates of national and international importance, including the sinking of HMS Iolaire in 1919 off the Scottish coast.

The Scottish Commemorations Panel, headed by former Army Chaplain, Neil Drummond, has played a key role in planning events for the period.

The First Minister indicated what the tone of events to mark the Centenary period would be: "The Great War commemorations are in no sense a celebration of the centenary of this devastating conflict".

"They are a commemoration, which will give the whole of the country the opportunity to reflect on the impact that the First World War had on Scotland during a programme of significant dates I am outlining today".

Edinburgh Castle will serve as a focal point to mark the outbreak of the conflict in 2014. A Drumhead Service (a church service held in the field during conflict, due to lack of a church), will be held "replicating services conducted on the front line where neatly piled drums draped with flags were used in place of a religious altar".

The dates which have been recommended by the Scottish Commemorations Panel to mark are as follows, with full details of the commemorations to be released by the Scottish Government at a later date:

August 2014: The outbreak of the First World War. Commemorations include a Commonwealth service in Glasgow and a Drumhead Service at Edinburgh Castle.

25 April 2015: The Gallipoli landings.

22 May 2015: The train crash at Quintinshill, near Gretna. The Leith-based 7th Battalion Royal Scots, Territorial Force were on their way to Liverpool for Gallipoli and lost 214 officers and men; 246 people were injured.

25 September 2015: The Battle of Loos. Significant Scottish losses as a result of an Allied offensive, with a notable number of Britain's highest military award, the Victoria Cross, being awarded to Scottish soldiers.

31 May 2016: The Battle of Jutland. The British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet clashed in the North Sea, off the coast of Denmark, near Jutland. Both sides claimed victory.

9 April 2017: Battle of Arras. 44 Scottish battalions and seven Scottish-named Canadian battalions attacked on the first day of the battle. "The largest concentration of Scots to have fought together during the war. One-third of the 159,000 British Expeditionary Force casualties were Scottish". 

11 November 2018: Armistice Day.

1 January 2019: Loss of HMS Iolaire. "The Iolaire was carrying soldiers back to Lewis when it struck rocks and sank off the coast of Stornoway with the loss of 205 men out of a crew of 284". 

To read the full press release, visit the Scottish Government website here.

Date of press release publication: 23/05/2013

Images courtesy of Wikipedia.

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News