Great-great grand­daugh­ters will re­mem­ber Vic­to­ria Cross hero and his three fallen broth­ers at cer­e­mony

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - NEWS -

were four young broth­ers, in­sep­a­ra­ble in life and, trag­i­cally, in­sep­a­ra­ble in death. Within two months of the out­break of the First World War, the An­der­son broth­ers, Ber­tie, Ron­nie, Char­lie and Ted­die, had en­listed. Not one would sur­vive.

“So glad we are all in this war,” Char­lie wrote in a let­ter home soon af­ter they’d signed up.

It was a com­monly-held sen­ti­ment of the time as fam­i­lies, work col­leagues and neigh­bours from across the coun­try set forth to do their bit.

But par­ents Wil­liam and Nora, who fundraised and col­lected med­i­cal sup­plies from their home in the West End of Glas­gow, were to pay the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

They had suf­fered heartbreak when their third child Harry died a week af­ter he was born in 1887...but none of their four re­main­ing sons would re­turn from the

First World War.

The brave band of broth­ers all laid down their lives, with Ber­tie do­ing so with such self­less brav­ery that he was posthu­mously awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross.

Ear­lier this year, ex­actly 100 years af­ter his death, a me­mo­rial paving stone was laid in hon­our of Ber­tie at the Peo­ple’s Palace. And there is a me­mo­rial to all four broth­ers in Glas­gow Cathe­dral.

To­day, their story will be re­mem­bered at a ser­vice at the cathe­dral at­tended by 1,200 peo­ple in­clud­ing the First Min­is­ter and Ber­tie’s great-grand­son Robin Scott-el­liot and his daugh­ters Iona and


Robin, who has writ­ten a novel, The

Way Home – which in­cludes a col­lec­tion of let­ters be­tween the broth­ers and their mother – is de­ter­mined the heart­break­ing story of his great-grand­fa­ther and broth­ers is not for­got­ten.

“Grow­ing up, I’d heard this story of my great-grand­dad win­ning the VC and his broth­ers also dy­ing, but there wasn’t a lot of de­tail,” said Robin, from He­lens­burgh.

“My dad was in the Army and as a teenager my brother and I were taken to see the ceme­ter­ies at the Somme. There were thou­sands upon thou­sands of head­stones, all iden­ti­cal, and then you see one that says WH An­der­son.

“I started track­ing down what­ever I could, pa­pers and al­bums, and from those, I started to get a pic­ture of the man and his broth­ers.” The boys grew up be­tween fam­ily homes in Fife and Glas­gow and they went to school at Fettes Col­lege in Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow Academy. The out­break of war saw Char­lie al­ready a ca­reer sol­dier, as he’d joined the High­land Light In­fantry (HLI) in In­dia in 1908.

Ber­tie, who had al­ready been a mil­i­tary man be­fore join­ing his dad’s ac­coun­tancy firm, was recom­mis­sioned within weeks. Ron­nie and Ted­die, then just 18, soon fol­lowed.

It was only a mat­ter of months be­fore the first tragic loss of Char­lie, who died only a week af­ter he’d ar­rived at Givenchy in north­ern France, where there was fierce fight­ing. “I think of the mother Nora sit­ting at home, dread­ing the knock on the door,” said Robin. Char­lie was rec­om­mended by his colonel for his gal­lantry. It was said that his men would fol­low him ev­ery­where.

He is the only brother to have no grave, with his name listed at the Le Touret Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery. The more Robin dug into the mists of time, the more real and hu­man the broth­ers be­came. “I found my­self call­ing them ‘the boys’ and they did be­come ‘alive’ to me.

“The first time I read about Ron­nie, who was

Iona, left, and Tor­rin Scott-el­liot with a pic­ture of their great-great grand­fa­ther Ber­tie An­der­son

A Vic­to­ria Cross

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