On Sunday 10th August I attended the drumhead service at Edinburgh Castle to mark the outbreak of World War I. The event – using drums as an altar – heralded the start of the Scottish commemorations programme covering eight significant points in the conflict. The cross-faith service on 10 August will be made up of politicians, military veterans and charity groups.
We were seated before 10:00am so that the parade could form up. When the Military contingents were all present the drums where placed and regimental Colours were laid on top of them.
Donald Wilson Lord Provost of Edinburgh Took the General Salute.
The drumhead service replicated those held on the front-line 100 years ago where neatly piled drums was used in place of an altar. I found the whole service very moving and humbling. Being a member of the forces for 3 years 50 years ago I was immediately taken back to attending church parades. I did not expect that to happen but I was aware that all the veterans’ there must have been having the same feelings.
Following the service, military bands paraded down the Royal Mile and the congregation was invited to follow in a procession to a replica Commonwealth graveyard at Holyrood Park.
Every one had to remain at their seat while the different areas were called. We took our place “on Parade”. The Highland region representatives were one of the first to leave the castle, stopping only to collect a band to march behind. After a few minutes I found that I was not walking but marching in time to the band. From then on all I could think about were the thousands of young men and boys, for many of them were still boys, who had marched down the Royal mile in 1914 who never returned. There were more than 100 headstones representing the names recorded in the Rolls of Honour at the Scottish National War Memorial.
It was a very sober and reflective person who arrived at the replica Commonwealth graveyard.
Although it was raining heavily throughout the day, particularly in the park, it did not lessen or take away anything from the occasion everyone remained to the end.
Those gathered in the park was invited to lay wreaths or markers to reflect the sacrifice made by so many. By 11:50 I was in Holyrood Park. I obtained 3 markers and wrote on the back “Foyers and Stratherrick Fallen 1914-1918” on 2 and 1 for a Family member who died in France. I placed 2 by the headstone while the Last Post was being played. I then went to the main Memorial and again was lost in the moment. It was not until I sat in the tram at Princes Street to return to the Park and Ride that I realised I was soaked to the skin and frozen, just like all those young men in the trenches. I also found I had blisters from walking with soaking wet feet. I knew I should have worn my boots.
As a non-native of Foyers and Stratherrick I brought a Marker home for someone who has family or neighbours and will be attending the memorial service at Gorthleck to place there on their behalf.
Update, the British Legion contacted me to say that they had the wreath from the cenotaph in Holyrood Park ordered on behalf of Community Council. The Chair Iain Brown will attend Service at Stratherrick War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday 9th November and to lay the Wreath.