Thursday, 25 February 2010

Soldiers look to cook up garden funds

From The Scotsman:

A MEMORIAL garden to honour Edinburgh-based soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan is set to be created at a city barracks.
The remembrance garden, which will cost around £30,000, will commemorate troops from 3rd Battalion The Rifles (3 Rifles) who have lost their lives during the battalion's tour in Helmand.

The garden will be located outside the officers' mess at Redford Barracks, where the battalion is based, and will officially open on 7 May ahead of the Homecoming Parade along the Royal Mile the following day.

Work is currently being carried out at the garden, which will feature a memorial stone with an inscription to the fallen soldiers on a paved area in the centre. The paved area will have five benches and will be surrounded by grass.

The garden will also honour any other members of 3 Rifles who have given their lives in service since the battalion was formed in February 2007, as well as any soldiers who are killed in future.

Donations from a number of businesses, including paving slabs, benches and a memorial stone worth £15,000, have made the garden possible.

A cooking fundraiser, organised by the catering department of 3 Rifles, will also be held at Tesco in Colinton on Friday to raise money for the remaining work.

The event is the brainchild of Sergeant Danny Kay, of the battalion's catering department.

Sgt Kay, rear operations master chef, said: "We approached our local Tesco store to see if they were interested in supporting a cooking fundraiser, and they were delighted to help.

"Tesco will provide the raw ingredients for free, and throughout the day army chefs will cook breakfasts, lunches and dinners in an army field kitchen outside the store.

"We are looking to feed as many people as possible during the day and their donations will go towards the garden fund."

A range of food, including breakfast baps, soup, steak sandwiches, haggis and hot pancakes, will be served just outside the store, with customers asked to donate between £1 and £2.50.

Scotland's youngest Michelin-starred chef, Tom Kitchin, will provide his support on the day by helping to prepare the sausage and bacon rolls in the morning.

Around 800 members of the 3 Rifles Battlegroup is currently on operations in Helmand, and to date 20 soldiers have been killed in action during the six-month tour, which ends in April.

Officer commanding rear operations, Major Chris Willis, said: "Funds raised will help us to create a lasting memorial to our fallen comrades, who were prepared to sacrifice their lives as part of the global struggle against the terrorism which seeks to threaten the daily lives of us all."

The fundraiser will take place at Tesco on Colinton Mains Drive between 8am and 7pm, with the battalion hoping to raise around £2,500.

Sgt Kay, 36, added: "It's fantastic that Tom Kitchin can take time out of his really busy schedule to help such a good cause.

"It will be a place for remembrance – to remember the supreme sacrifice that the fallen soldiers have shown to the whole community and Britain itself."

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Mothballed war memorials fall victim to the recession

Catching up on some media stories, this one from the Edinburgh Evening News caught my attention:

Mothballed war memorials fall victim to the recession

Published Date: 08 February 2010
PLANS for new memorials in honour of all the Capital's fallen war heroes are set to be mothballed.
The city council unveiled plans for a memorial on land between Greendykes and Edmonstone in 2008.

It was to be modelled on Staffordshire's National Arboretum and would commemorate all of the city's war dead.

But city leaders have confirmed tha
t the slowdown in the development of the Craigmillar area has meant that the scheme has had to be put on hold.

The council also said it would take at least another two years for a garden of remembrance to be created at Princes Street Gardens West. However, there are still hopes the scheme could get moving within two years if the funds are raised by public subscription or by private benefactors.

Councillor Gordon Buchan, who first called for the new war memorials in 2007, said: "Given that we have still got a number of unfortunate incidents where people in service are losing their lives, I wanted to see how the council was progressing with this.

"I am disappointed that it has not moved as quickly as we had hoped. It seems to me that Princes Street has the most momentum at the moment, but I won't give up on the arboretum.

"We should still try to have this new national memorial. There is one down south, and there is no reason why we shouldn't have one for ourselves as well."

It is not yet known how much land the new arboretum would be on, or how much the scheme would cost. However, it is unlikely to be anywhere near the size of the National Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, which is made up of 150 acres of trees and memorials.

Initial talks have taken place between council green space officers and Parc, the council-backed developer taking forward the regeneration of Craigmillar, but the recession, which has slowed down development in the area, has scuppered the plans.

City leader Jenny Dawe said: "This is a long-term development proposal with no fixed date, and due to the current economic climate it seems unlikely that a start date will emerge soon."

The council put out a £500,000 tender notice in 2008 for the Princes Street scheme, which was to be based on a number of gardens of remembrance in Australian cities.

Five companies have been shortlisted to undertake consultation and complete an outline design for the garden of remembrance. The successful firm is expected to be selected by the end of this month, with an outline design expected by the summer.

Cllr Dawe confirmed the scheme would be financed by public subscription or a private initiative. She said: "Several new monuments in Edinburgh have been the subject of public subscription in recent years.

"It is anticipated that fundraising for the garden of remembrance would take at least two years, but it is impossible to predict exactly how long this stage will take."

Monday, 22 February 2010

Memorial in Danger: Gorgie War Memorial Hall

It comes as no surprise that the City of Edinburgh Council have announced the closure of the Gorgie War Memorial Hall. This is a community centre in Gorgie which supplies day care to pensioners and children of nursery age in Gorgie and Dalry.
It's tough for the Council just now and cuts have to be made across the City across all departments. The Gorgie War Memorial Hall was earmarked for closure two years ago and was reprieved but times are a lot harder for the Council this time round. However the staff of the hall and the local labour group of the council are going to try and fight the closure and I'm behind them 100%.
Hopefully in all the discussions everyone remembers that this isn't just a community centre, it is Gorgie's War Memorial. Anyone who enters the hall can’t fail to notice the magnificent memorial fireplace in pride of place opposite the main door. The whole hall and the garden in front of it is the memorial though, the fireplace is just the centrepiece.

The Gorgie War Memorial Hall was created in memory of lost family and friends by the people of Gorgie for the people of Gorgie, and you can see from the condition of the fireplace how lovingly it has been cared for. It is a tribute not just to the men listed but to all the hall’s caretakers and staff who have worked there over the last ninety years.

When the Heart of Midlothian War Memorial Clock was threatened during the tram works at Haymarket, public opinion helped ensure it was treated with the respect it deserved. In my opinion the Gorgie War Memorial is a more significant memorial to the area because it lists all the local Gorgie men who fought and died during the First World War.

Even if the Council follows through its plan and moves the current community services to another location I hope everyone is aware that short term gains for the City Council at this time should not be allowed to wipe out ninety years of remembrance for Gorgie. I also hope that there is a long term plan to ensure the hall continues to serve the people of Gorgie in some way and can continue to be a focal point for remembrance for many years to come.

Pictures of the War Memorial Hall can be found on the Scottish War Memorials Project.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Lumberjills Exhibition in Edinburgh

From Chris Patons' Scottish Genealogy News and Events blog:

The role of the Women's Land Army in World War 2 goes under the spotlight in a new exhibition at Edinburgh Castle's National War Museum from Friday 26th February.

For more information see

Unknown to his family, soldier lay buried close to home for 94 years

From The Scotsman:

THE family of a Scots soldier who died in one of the worst battles of the First World War visited his grave for the first time yesterday almost a century after his death.

Brothers Richard Doyle, Bernard Doyle and Patrick Doyle visit the grave stone of their uncle Dennis Doyle at Cambusnethan Cemetery, North Lanarkshire

Private Dennis Doyle, from Wishaw in North Lanarkshire, was shot in the head during combat in France in 1916 and died on his return to the UK.

Though he was a buried in a North Lanarkshire cemetery close to his home, a mix-up led to him being recorded as one of the thousands of missing servicemen from the Battle of the Somme.

Pte Doyle is one of the 72,090 soldiers commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in France.

However, the error was uncovered by local historian Joe O'Raw, who contacted the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and in turn erected a granite headstone to mark the Scottish soldier's true resting place in December.

Pte Doyle's nephews Patrick, Richard and Bernard visited the grave at Cambusnethan Cemetery for the first time, 94 years after his death.

Patrick Doyle, who lives locally, said: "We knew nothing about our uncle's grave until recently. He was a much-loved man and the family are thankful to Joe O'Raw and the War Graves Commission for providing this headstone, and giving us a focus to pay our respects to Dennis."

Pte Doyle was 30 when he was wounded while serving with the East Lancashire Regiment, having signed up after moving to Manchester for work.

He had been in France for about eight months when he was shot through the head by a sniper. He was taken by ship to England, but died from his wounds on arrival.

His body was taken to Wishaw, where he was buried in the cemetery close to his mother's home in the town's Glasgow Road.

Mr O'Raw said: "I am immensely grateful to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for erecting this headstone, thus ensuring that a brave man is properly and fittingly remembered."

Pte Doyle's death was recorded at the time in the Wishaw Press and Advertiser, now the Wishaw Press.

The article reads: "Six weeks ago, ago, while engaged in bomb-throwing, he was shot in the head by a sniper.

"Last weekend he was brought across the Channel for treatment in England; but, ere the hospital ship had been docked, he succumbed to his injuries.

"The body was brought to Wishaw, and arrangements had been made for a military funeral, but unfortunately at the last moment a message was received from the garrison adjutant at Hamilton that a funeral party could not be furnished."

The Battle of the Somme, in Picardy, is considered to be one of the bloodiest military operations ever recorded, with almost 60,000 British casualties recorded on the first day alone – the British Army's worst single-day combat losses in its history.

The battle lasted five months, but by the time the fighting had petered out in late autumn of 1916, a total of more than 1.5 million casualties had been suffered on both sides.

The Somme had been part of wider offensive along the Western Front to breach the German lines.

Dennis Doyle's details from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

Initials: D
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: East Lancashire Regiment
Unit Text: 8th Bn.
Date of Death: 19/02/1916
Service No: 16195
N.B.: Previously commemorated on Thiepval Memorial
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Sec E Lair 1475

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Theft from soldier memorial

This news item from the BBC saddens me. I hope the culprit is caught soon.

Theft from dead soldier memorial

A thief has stolen items from a war memorial in Falkirk after they were left there in memory of a dead soldier.

A junior Rangers football top, saltire badge and poppy were taken from the cenotaph on Camelon Road, a spokeswoman for Central Scotland Police said.

The items were left by a friend of Pte Sean McDonald, who died in Afghanistan on 7 February.

The theft took place between 1230 GMT last Tuesday and 1500 GMT the following day.

Pte McDonald, 26, and Cpl John Moore, 22, were killed by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol near Sangin in Helmand province.

They were both from the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Pte McDonald, who was born in Toronto but came to Edinburgh to go to school, left a wife Jennifer, mother Jacqueline, brother Darryle and sister Ceilidh.

Following his death, his mother said the tragedy had left a "hole in our lives and a hole in our heart".

Neil Griffiths, spokesman for the Royal British Legion Scotland, said the theft of the tribute to the fallen solider was "absolutely appalling".

He said: "People stealing from a war memorial is unheard of. Any theft is bad, but this makes your blood boil - it defies words."

He added: "Anyone hearing this news couldn't fail to be appalled.

"It goes beyond normal criminal events - it's insulting to all soldiers."

Police said they wanted to speak to anyone who had information about the theft or who saw something suspicious.