INTRODUCTION. The KOSB Trustees have fully endorsed that certain battles of World War 1, in which the KOSB played a significant role, and for which we have a major battle honour, should be commemorated by organised Association visits. The first of these was at Gallipoli in May 2015, when a 35 strong, 3 generation, party visited the battlefield in Turkey. Loos 100 was marked by an on site visit in September 2015, and a large KOSB contingent marching in the National Commemoration at Dundee. Two paving stone events for Piper D Laidlaw VC were also supported by senior KOSB attendance. Following an all night SOMME 100 vigil in Edinburgh Castle on 30 June/ 1 July, supported by the Association, the second big tour was to THE SOMME itself in Sep 2016, where over 3000 Borderers lost their lives, in 4 different Battalions. Another 3 generation party visited the battlefields, and crossed a 3 Sep 1916 start line, 100 years to the minute after a disastrous 2 KOSB attack , on Faffemont Farm ,near Combles, in which 200 + Jocks were killed in an hour . What a memorable walk that was- up to the wood on a low lying, bare hillock, with “Blue Bonnets” playing.
PROPOSITION- Andy Middlemiss and John Ross, with the help of Grant Horsburgh, Peter Walton at HHQ, and Ian Gibbs in the South, will co-organise a group visit to Passchendaele / 3rd Ypres in the 100th anniversary year- 2017. This will be linked to the unveiling of a WW1 memorial to the 7000 + Borderers who fell in the Great War, on the Scottish Memorial near Zonnebeke- a short way out of Ypres, in Belgium, and a pilgrimage visit to the sites of our 2 summer 1917 VCs- Skinner and Grimbaldeston. This letter is early warning of that, and to gauge interest in this proposal.
HOW AND WHEN- The visit will be in the rough timescale of 15- 20 August 2017- exact detail TBC. The party will either RV in London, take a bus across the channel, stay in Ypres itself, and return pm Sunday 20 August, or meet on site in Ypres, and take it from there- we are working out the best options. The same excellent guide who took the Gallipoli and Somme trips has been pencilled in -the superb Keith Dolan- a story teller and historian par excellence, who brings a battlefield alive with his words and descriptive telling. He will be tasked to conduct a tour of the main sites, plus walk the ground where Borderers specifically fought their actions. A formal act of remembrance at one of the main Memorials / CWGC Cemeteries will be included, and, if possible, a visit to any specific KOSB family graves/ names on a memorial – time and access allowing.
ROUGH OUTLINE OF MEMORIAL UNVEILING
See the initial post. We have raised well over £3000 for this.
The ceremony will be on 19 August 2017, in the period 100 years later exactly, when the famous 15th Scottish Division was fighting in the area around the actual memorial. 7/8 th Bn KOSB captured the very ground, where the Scottish memorial stands, on 31 July 1917 –the Frezenberg Redoubt. Our Battalion was in 15 Scottish Div, and we lost 38 killed, 240 wounded and 19 missing in those 2 days , before finally taking it on 1 / 2 August- on the anniversary of the Battle of Minden.
Quote from the ex- Belgian army contact who is helping us – the superb Erwin Ureel:
”The Scottish ceremony 2017 will commemorate 100 years of Third Ypres / Passchendaele and is part of a three month- remembrance campaign, in which we (Belgium)will aim in the first stage at a UK and Scottish centric weekend 19-20 August), as that was the period in 1917, when almost all participants at the battle were British. This will be followed by Australian and New Zealand ceremonies in early October, and then a series of Canadian themed activities around 10 November, when we will do a closing ceremony at Passchendaele.
The unveiling-ceremony of the Scottish memorial in 2007 attracted 1200 people. Legion Scotland will be involved, which will hopefully result in a good turn out.
The 48th Highlanders of Canada are also interested in attaching a plaque at the memorial. So I’m hoping that we could make it a Scottish ceremony in the wider sense, including the emigrated Scots, and their regiments. We will try to have a Scottish Govt. Minister at the ceremony.
In addition, the Passchendaele 1917 Tattoo will be held in the evening of the 19th August 2017, and the next day, there will be Highland Games and re-enactment, so it will be a fairly big weekend.”
WHO. The intention would be for a good spread of the Association of all ages/ ranks etc. up to a limit of 20/25. Summer school holidays and 1 SCOTS commitments are unlikely to allow a joint party like before. If we are heavily overbid, a ballot for places will be conducted independently by HHQ, but also allocating proportionately to Branches / Clubs, to give a good geographical spread. We would be happy to run a reserve list.
COSTS. Estimates so far would indicate a £450 rough cost per head, for about 4/5 days max. TBC.
TRAVEL. We are looking at options- but are leaning towards a coach from London style trip – ie get yourself to the London RV. Short ferry across, drive to Ypres in a coach . OR we just might RV on site in Belgium and hire a local coach daily. We will work out options and come back to those who show an interest.
“Pip ,Squeak and Wilfred” , as the Tommies/Jocks called the standard set .
WHAT DO I DO NEXT? If you would be interested in joining such a venture at this stage, then please let any of the following know:
Andy Middlemiss email@example.com
John Ross firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Walton at HHQ, Berwick email@example.com
Ian Gibbs- Lon & S Counties Branch firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Horsburgh – email@example.com
Please highlight any special reasons for being included- ie a relative in the battle, and do this before Monday 6 FEB 2017, when bids will close. Please note that some of the tour will involve walking on uneven, rough ground, so those with poor/ reduced mobility would maybe find this tour too much. To book, we are going to have to commit to hotels etc early, as 2017, throughout the year, is already filling fast. Then, once the numbers are more certain, and names decided, a committal of a deposit will have to be taken, in spring 2017. Your early expression of interest is only that at this stage, not a seat on the bus yet! John Ross will keep the master list of bids and places. We will announce in mid Feb 2017, what the response was, and who the party will consist of, with a reserve list if necessary. Feel free to pass this to any friends you think might like to go.
PUBLIC BALLOT –If you want to have a go at the Government ballot for 4000 tickets for the following event, good luck.
“On the evening of 30 July a public event will take place in the Market Square at Ieper, following the nightly Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. You can register your interest in attending this event via the link below.
The next day, 31 July, a ticket-only event will take place in the afternoon at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Tyne Cot Cemetery. You can enter the ballot for tickets for this event via the link below.We think you’ll need very close relatives’ reasons for being successful .It is open until 24 Feb 2017.”
ANOTHER WAY. Glenton Holidays who are sponsors of Legion Scotland are doing a trip from Scotland, at roughly the same time, if you want to have a look: