The distribution of the following SITREP from Andy Middlemiss was to those planning to attend the CENTENARY TOUR 1918-2018. However I am sure it will be of interest to all Borderers.
KOSB ASSOCIATION – CENTENARY TOUR 1918-2018 – SITREP 1
“At 11 o’clock on the 11th of November, I was sitting at a table with a Major in the Scots Greys- and he had a large, old-fashioned, hunting watch, which he put on the table, and he watched the minutes going round. Anyway, 11 o’clock came, and I remember he shut his watch up, and said ‘I wonder what we are all going to do next?’ And that was very much the feeling of everyone. What was one going to do next..?”
Thank you for expressing an interest in joining the 4th KOSB WW1 Centenary Battlefield Tour this autumn. The big uncertainty for our numbers currently is whether or not MOD will fund the Jocks from 1 SCOTS, and the staff / children from Queen Victoria School, Dunblane.
We are going Monday 17- Friday 21 September 2018. Please have a look at the outline list of things we will cover at Annex A. We have yet to put the detailed itinerary on this, but it gives you a feel for what we have in mind. Our guide will give us the overall picture, and then we will visit several KOSB specific sites, including where our famous 1918 VC was won – Sgt Louis McGuffie – and our 3 other WW1 VCs, who we haven’t visited, or had previous time to do justice to before .
Guide. We intend taking the same professional guide- Keith Dolan (an ex serviceman himself, and a real expert on the ground and the battles) – as we used in Gallipoli, The Somme and Passchendaele last year. Keith was a big hit on all 3 tours, and has become a good Regimental friend. He is extremely knowledgeable, a great story teller, patient, personable and fun. He can take us to the actual ground, where the KOSB Battalions fought and died, and has taken parties to the Western Front countless times. His pedigree:
“Grandson of a Scots Guardsman, who won a Silver Cup for bayonet fighting in 1924 in China, and Great Nephew of Bugler James Ferguson, killed at Neuve Chapelle on 10th March 1915 at 08.05 hrs on Day 1 of that battle, serving with 2 Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).”
Management. We are going to do a DIY tour again, making the bookings ourselves, as we did last year. We will hire a local Belgian coach daily, which brings huge savings over taking a coach and driver from UK. So we ask you to get yourselves to Ypres, in Belgium, for pm Monday 17 Sep, whichever way suits you, and your budget best, in time for an early supper together, watch the Menin gate ceremony as observers- (we will be the main wreath laying party on Thursday) – then a walk round the Ypres City ramparts to set the scene. Therefore, there will be no collective UK RV. Some of us might well travel together from regions, like those in Southern England, or Central/ Southern side of Scotland.
Travel Options to Ypres, Belgium (called IEPER locally)
From Scotland– Fly to Brussels (Brussels Airlines and Ryanair fly from Edinburgh- NB to different airports- Brussels has 2, so check) and 2 trains to Ypres, via Gent, or if a good sized group, we’ll get a local mini bus to meet us at the airport. We did have bad luck last year with a broken plane, but hopefully that was a one off.
OR train to London Kings X /St Pancras, then EUROSTAR to Lille, and connect to Ypres.
Or self drive.
From the South– Ferry/ Eurostar/ self drive .Car drivers – be aware Ypres has declared a no car day Sunday 16 Sep –a green initiative – bikes only. Very good Ypres tourism website for this lovely old city:
So far, the names attached at Annex B have shown an interest in this tour. This would be a really nice mix of the Association, and our connections.
Accommodation. This is a really busy year for Ypres, obviously, and even at this range, many of the hotels in our week are already booked solid. Ian Gibbs moved swiftly on site – personally visiting many options, to get us this:
Gasthof’t Zweerd .We are booking rooms in this comfortable boarding house, which is bang on the main square. Costs for 4 nights, including breakfast, and daily City Tax of Euros 1.50 p room p day – all en suite:Single occupancy – £330 per person
Twin / Double occupancy – £196 per person
We are working at the following exchange rate: €1.06 = £1. Please understand that there could be fluctuations in the exchange rate over coming months, and this might result in an increase in costs.
We will book:
A locally hired Belgian bus for the touring bits. Cost – roughly £55 p p, based on a party of around 20 +.
For those flying in from Edinburgh to Brussels- a mini bus to meet us and take us back -about £45 pp last time.
Four nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in Gasthof ‘t Zweerd.
The professional services of our expert Guide and his expenses – estimating at £ 70 p p. Depends on our overall number.
Attendance at the Menin Gate 8 pm evening ceremony on Thursday 20 Sep – and for three smart members of our party to lay a KOSB wreath at that splendid and very moving occasion.
Insurance– DIY please – we will not be taking out a central group policy. You MUST also take your EHIC card.
£££/Euros– Some museums/ places we will visit do charge small entry fees on top- cash on the day-5 euros or so – and you will need some spending / lunch / dinners money. We are estimating say £ 100 for those.
We will pay the hotel, the guide and the coach centrally, and bill you accordingly for whatever parts you take up / use.
REMINDERS. Just to recap some of our previous important points:
If not already done so, please highlight to us any special reasons for your being included /attending. We will conduct an act of commemoration at Tyne Cot cemetery – the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world – to be run by Padre TBC- we don’t have a Padre yet.
b. Please note that some of the tour will involve walking on uneven, rough ground for up to 2 miles, so those with poor/ reduced mobility can stay on the bus for that bit- there won’t be many of those occasions.
WHAT DO I DO NOW? DEPOSIT.
This is commitment time please. Will all those at ANNEX B please contact either Andy or Gerry to say you are, or you are not still on for this, by 14 March. E mail addresses below, and if YES, we now ask for a non returnable deposit.
We need some cash flow to pay hotel deposits, and the coach company etc. We ask you to pay a £150 deposit by 15 March please.
We are very grateful to Grant Horsburgh, Chairman of the Association’s Edinburgh Branch, for letting us use his Branch account, as our bank base for transactions, and to Euan Scroggie, their Treasurer, for doing trip banker again, as he did so well for Gallipoli, The Somme and Passchendaele ,and coming with us this time, to see what he’s been missing!
To pay your deposit, please send a cheque, payable to “KOSB Association- Edinburgh Branch -” for £150 to:
Major EFR Scroggie MBE, 394 LANARK RD, EDINBURGH EH13 0LX
Our preferred option and easier, you can do a BACS payment to:
Bank sort code 80 – 02 – 77, Account Number 00438430 – KOSB Assocn, Edinburgh Branch.
Make sure that your surname, and KOSB 2018, is used as the reference. Send one of us an e mail that funds are incoming, so we can monitor ins and outs.
The deposit will get you on the party firm list, book you a bed in the Hotel, secure the Belgian bus booking, and the guide’s services. If you feel, however, that now is the time to withdraw, for whatever reason, please let one of us know ASP. Or, if you want to be on a reserve list only at this stage, please also say. Equally, if you know a friend who wants to come, please let us know ASP. We aim to close the list by the end of March 2018.
TRAVEL PLANNING– The fliers from Scotland should start looking at booking onto the red eye Brussels Air -Edinburgh to Brussels, departing Mon 17 Sep at :
Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
Brussels Airport (BRU)
Meaning we’d be in Ypres for lunchtime- Should be!
And returning on Fri 21 Sep at:
Brussels Airport (BRU)
Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
For about £125 pp, incl one hold bag, return, at time of writing.
If you want an overview of WW1, Andrew Marr has made a very good one hour programme:
“Britain gets its first taste of total war. Marr argues that no shock has ever hit these islands with quite the force of what became known as the Great War. It transformed the lives of the British people – most dramatically the millions who fought on the frontline, but also those at home who were bereaved, bombed, uprooted and bankrupted.
Andrew Marr tells the story of Lord Kitchener’s volunteer army – the biggest in history. Visiting the trenches of Flanders, Marr imagines the horrors of industrialised warfare and reveals the gallows humour that thrived there.
Very best wishes to you all.
Gerry O’Neill & Andy Middlemiss
with Ian Gibbs, and Peter Walton in Mutual Support!
WW1 CENTENARY BATTLEFIELD TOUR
OUTLINE OF VISITS / EVENTS
MONDAY 17 TO FRIDAY 21 SEP 2018
Day 1 MONDAY 17 SEP – Independent Travel- make your own way to Gasthof ‘t Zweerd , central square , Ypres (IEPER) , Belgium . Introductory talks, and general stands in Ypres .Early evening meal. Informally watch the Menin Gate ceremony at 8 pm if you wish. We have booked to be the main wreath laying group–with 3 of us in “Minden Day Order” – on our last night.
Days 2 – 4: 18-20 SEP –- exact itinerary TBC but to include as much of the the following that we can fit in:
St George’s Church, Ypres.
Skinner and Grimbaldeston VC sites,
Sgt McGuffie VC’s grave, and see where he won his VC
Piper Laidlaw VC at LOOS story and on site visit
If we have time, we will try to pop in to the Neuve Chappelle battle area- to compare how we fought in 1915, and how we did so in 1918.
Walks in old / restored front line trenches.
The Frezenberg Redoubt where our 7/8th Bn assaulted, successfully, with 300 + casualties, in summer 1917, where our new WW1 Memorial at Zonnebeke is.
See where, and hear how, the KOSB Bns. fought during the Kaiserschlacht – especially the German Operation Georgette in the Lys and salient areas- and the 100 days campaign.
A service at Tyne Cot- North Rotunda – the KOSB wall. “Minden Day Order” for that.
Harlebeke New British Cemetery, 30 kms East of Ypres- where our “Last To Fall” – Pte Lambie- lies with several other Borderers – KIA on 31 Oct aged 18 yrs.
Thursday night –after our part in the Menin gate ceremony- Collective Dinner – and sing song/ poems / mini ceilidh- private room in the Captain Cook restaurant.
Day 5– Friday 21 Sep –after b’fast – Return to UK under own arrangements.
You are of course free to stay on in Belgium after this, if you wish to do more battle fielding , but will have to make your own bookings for rooms/ coaches etc.
1918 – 2018 TOUR -INTEREST TO DATE
Neil Dewar – ex RE/ RS /Met Police – museum volunteer at HHQ Berwick
–Ian Gibbs +
Geordie Goodfellow +
John Handling *
Kernaghan*- Bob and Alice –separate accommo booked.
Andy + & Jo Middlemiss*
Stephen Lowdon –HHQ museum volunteer – ex policeman
Gerry* and Alison O’Neill –separate accommo booked – driving out beforehand
John Pollock- Volunteer at museum, HHQ Berwick
Brian Raine +
Euan Scroggie –our Treasurer
Peter Walton + travelling by car from Berwick, via Newcastle ferry, with Stephen Lowdon
Keith Dolan+- tour guide
22 (18 for the hotel)
And 4 x TBC –Grant Horsburgh*, Russell Combe, Liz and Phil Howard –Thornton*
INVITED TO COME – all funding dependent.
1 SCOTS *-UP TO 5 OF AN ALL RANK MIX,
QVS DUNBLANE* – 2 STAFF AND 4 PUPILS,
ITV Border* -2 MAN CREW, and BFBS TV REPORTER –ONE
MOD Budgets will impact heavily on the Jocks and school coming probably.
CODE Italics- sgl occupancy
+ – attended all 3 tours so far * – attended one or more previous tours