Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele’s 100th an­niver­sary marked.

Cri­eff hosts pa­rade as hardy cy­clists re­turn from visit to bat­tle scene in Bel­gium

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - JAMIE buchan

A spec­tac­u­lar mil­i­tary pro­ces­sion has marked the cen­te­nary of one of the First World War’s dark­est chap­ters.

Troops marched through Cri­eff to hon­our the hun­dreds of thou­sands of sol­diers killed dur­ing the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele.

The clash at Ypres, in Bel­gium, has been de­scribed as one of the war’s great­est dis­as­ters and claimed the lives of many Scots.

The pa­rade yes­ter­day morn­ing, sup­ported by armed forces char­ity Le­gion Scot­land, marked the start of Cri­eff Re­mem­bers, a se­ries of events to com­mem­o­rate the men and women who served the coun­try dur­ing the Great War.

The area has strong con­nec­tions to Pass­chen­daele be­cause many of the sol­diers in­volved were from The Black Watch.

Around 150 vet­er­ans marched along­side serv­ing sol­diers from the Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land to a wreath­lay­ing cer­e­mony at Cri­eff’s Mar­ket Park.

A hardy team of 18 cy­clists – from the City of Ed­in­burgh Univer­si­ties Of­fi­cers’ train­ing corps, Black Watch, Third Bat­tal­ion, Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land, 51st High­land Vol­un­teers and three sup­port staff – rode from Cri­eff to Pass­chen­daele and back again as part of the com­mem­o­ra­tions.

They re­turned to Cri­eff in time for yes­ter­day’s pa­rade.

Each day of their 600-mile jour­ney the team used a war di­ary from July 1917 to mark what their Black Watch fore­bears were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing 100 years ago.

One of the cy­clists, Reg­i­men­tal Sergeant Ma­jor of The Black Watch, Third Bat­tal­ion, the Royal Reg­i­ment of Scot­land Kevin Stacey said: “I’m deeply proud to come from an army fam­ily with my grand­fa­ther, un­cle and fa­ther all hav­ing served in the Black Watch.

“It’s im­por­tant that we do this jour­ney on this the cen­te­nary of the Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele, to show our re­spect to those who fought in the bat­tle – es­pe­cially to those fallen sol­diers and our mod­ern day vet­er­ans that have gone be­fore us.

“All have fought hard for our free­doms, with some pay­ing the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.”

Fes­ti­vals Cri­eff chair­man Alas­tair Mc­Clymont said: “There’s a real buzz about the town at the mo­ment and we are de­lighted to have Le­gion Scot­land’s sig­nif­i­cant in­put to the launch of our Cri­eff Re­mem­bers pro­gramme.”

An ex­hi­bi­tion of rare First World War mem­o­ra­bilia will be held at the town’s Strat­hearn Artspace.

Mean­while, about 200 de­scen­dants of al­lied sol­diers who died at Pass­chen­daele trav­elled to Ypres for a cer­e­mony at the Menin Gate memo­rial.

Deputy First Min­is­ter John Swinney rep­re­sented the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment at the com­mem­o­ra­tion.

He said: “Only by re­flect­ing on th­ese hu­man tragedies from our past do we give our­selves the best chance of never re­peat­ing them in our fu­ture.”


Pic­tures: PA/Getty

Top: Gov­er­nor of Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle Ma­jor Gen­eral Mike Rid­del­lWeb­ster lays a wreath by a drum al­tar dur­ing the pa­rade and ser­vice in Cri­eff. Above: Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May at the Ypres cer­e­mony.

Pic­tures: Dougie

Left: the team of cy­clists who rode from Cri­eff to Pass­chen­daele and back. Above: the Duke and Duchess of Cam­bridge with King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Bel­gians ar­rive at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

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