BATTLE OF THE SOMME VIGIL – THE NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL FOR SCOTLAND
At 0730 hrs on 1 July 1916 the whistles blew and the pipes played ordering men to climb out of their trenches and cross ‘no-mans’ land towards the German lines. So began the Battle of the Somme. The Government announced that vigils would be held across the country to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. One of the vigils held was in the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle, overnight 30 June and 1 July 2016.
Those Scots who took part in the Battle were represented by groups of Service personnel and Veterans Groups keeping vigil, in silent watches, throughout the night around the casket within the shrine of the memorial. The casket contains the names of all Scots who fell in the First World War.
Borderers participating were Allan Alstead, Andy Middlemiss, Euan Scroggie, Andrew Herberts, Peter Walton and Jerry Turner, they pulled the 0200 – 0300 hours stag, in shifts of 2 .
They found it intensely moving , humbling and an honour to watch over the names held dear in that shrine. Thoughts turned to the terror those Jocks must have felt with only a few hours to go, until they had to face the enemy. Two hours after 0730 hours on July 1st, 548 of 1KOSB were either killed or wounded. It was a terrible baptism of fire.
A service to mark the end of the Vigil commenced at 0710hrs on 1 July ending at 0730hrs, with the blowing of an infantry whistle which was blown on that fateful day of 1916. Borderers went home to bed after an “all nighter” of great emotion.
“Always a Borderer”