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World War One Battlefield Tour 2017 – a Proposal

27 September 2016
WWI-003-(2)-min copyBorderers good morning,
I know we are just back from The Somme 100, but if we want to do something next year , we would need to put some things in place ,provisionally, quite soon- especially accommodation and guide-KD!
Many of us know little about Arras , though our 2nd,6th and 7/8th Bns took part in April 1917 actions around Vimy Ridge, with much lighter casualties than The Somme. For some reason the Scottish Government has declared that as THE 2017 commemoration battle- so maybe we , or someone in the KOSB, should do something .
Most of you will know of our plan to join a big Belgian led event, near Ypres, on Sat 19 August 2017, to unveil our WW1 memorial plaque, at the Scottish Memorial near Zonnebeke.(To that end, we are writing officially to the Zonnebeke Mayor- for permission to do this ). We have raised the money for the memorial, People / Branches / Berwick Rotary have all been very generous.
This event is the Belgian kick off of Passchendaele, or 3rd Ypres as some call it, with a large ceremony around the lovely Scottish memorial, near Zonnebeke. This is the very spot where our 7/8th Bn took the Frenzenburg Redoubt in late July 1917. That is followed by a Tattoo in the evening ,to which I’m trying to get the Pipe bands of the London Scottish and Scots Guards. Cost drives everything now in MOD land, so we won’t get any of the SCOTS bands , whereas bands more Southern based might well be able to go . Highland Games (yes in low lying Ypres!) and battle re-enactment on Sunday. Quite a weekend.
My thoughts are that we attend those weekend events ,then add on, or precede, with 2 days touring, with our favourite guide if he can bear to come back to us, to do the key Passchendaele events, as they affected the KOSB, incl our 2 x 1917 WW1 VCs.  
VCs-SkinnerCSM J Skinner, V.C., D.C.M. 16th August 1917. In spite of a head wound, CSM Skinner led a party of 6 men to clear 3 blockhouses, capturing 60 prisoners, 3 machine guns and 2 mortars. He was subsequently killed by a sniper’s bullet. 9 V.C.s from the 29th Division were present at his funeral, 6 of them acting as pallbearers.


Also on 16 August 1917….

VCs GrimbaldestonCQMS W.Grimbaldeston, V.C., Fr. C. de G. 1st KOSB. 3rd Ypres, 16th August 1917. Single-handedly, CQMS Grimbaldeston bombed out a blockhouse, taking 36 prisoners, 6 machine guns and a mortar.

On 16 August 1917 at Wijdendrift, Belgium, Company Quartermaster-Sergeant Grimbaldeston noticed that the unit on his left was held up by enemy machine-gun fire from a blockhouse. Arming himself with a rifle and hand grenade he started to crawl towards his objective, and when he had advanced about 100 yards another soldier came forward to give covering support. Although wounded, he pushed on to the blockhouse, threatened the machine-gun teams inside with a hand grenade and forced them to surrender. This action resulted in the capture of 36 prisoners, six machine-guns and one trench mortar.

VCs-McGuffieSgt McGuffie VC,  won his in 1918 , but isn’t far away either , so could easily be visited .

Thurs 17/Friday 18 Aug– travel out (A small recce patrol may have to go out slightly earlier for Rehearsals on Thursday /Friday) – Book for us to do the Menin Gate ceremony at 8 pm .
Sat 19 Aug– Scottish memorial event ,incl. our Memorial Plaque unveiling –  followed by evening Tattoo.
Sun 20 Aug– Highland Games and Re-enactment
Mon 21 – Tues 22 – KOSB at Passchendaele and WW1 VCs.
Wed 23/Thurs 24 – Travel back .
Or we do the touring bit first, so we are there 100 years to the day when our VCs above were won,that would be something! Maybe find Skinner or G’ton relatives to come with us ?
This time we would announce what is happening and where, but get the majority of folks to make their own plans, transport, rooms etc. We would have a central ,small planning team to coordinate events who would travel out together , but this trip would not be one big centrally organised tour party like the last 2 . For the 2 days add on ,we could charge for the guide’s services, but otherwise it would be individual / do your own thing bookings. One thought might be to take a mini bus from the South- based on the London Branch contacts .
What I would like, and ask for now,  is some ideas /  some feedback from those who have been interested in our WW1 adventures so far, and let me have a view . What would you like to do next year, and in what style. Gallipoli , Loos and the Somme have all been very powerful and learning experiences for many of us. It seems a pity to stop now, so let’s keep this momentum going . But maybe in another way next year …
Let me have yr views pse. By email to
Very best 
Lt Col (Retd) Andy Middlemiss DL
The Eagles, 25 Broom Rd, KINROSS KY13 8BU
01577 862041

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