Scotland will mark the Battle of Arras and the centenary of the death of Dr Elsie Inglis as part of this year’s World War One commemorations, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has announced.
The Third Battle of Ypres – more commonly known as Passchendaele – will be remembered as part of the wider UK Commemorative Programme when on 30 and 31 July, the casualties of all home nations and allies will be commemorated in Belgium. There is expected to be Scottish ministerial attendance at these events.
Scotland’s commemoration for the Battle of Arras will take place at Arras, France, on 9 April. The Scottish Government is funding two pupils from each local authority to visit Arras, learn more about the battle and represent the people of Scotland at commemorative events. Pupils will share their experience with their respective schools and communities when they return.
On the morning of 9 April, there will be a commemorative service at Foubourg d’Amiens Cemetery at Arras, followed by a Beating Retreat by the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Regiment of Scotland at the Place d’Heros in Arras in the early evening.
The centenary of the death and funeral of Dr Elsie Inglis will be marked on 26 and 29 November respectively in Edinburgh. Dr Inglis was responsible for establishing the Scottish Women’s Hospital for wounded soldiers in France, after which subsequent hospitals were established in Serbia, Russia, Greece, Malta and Corsica. Dr Inglis died in Newcastle on 26 November 1917 on her way home. She was awarded honours from France, Serbia and Russia.
There will be an Act of Remembrance at Dean Cemetery on 26 November and a Service of Thanksgiving at St Giles Cathedral on 29 November, where there is a plaque to commemorate her work. Representatives of the countries where Dr Inglis established hospitals will be invited to attend commemorative events.
Further details will be announced later in the year.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said:
“The Battle of Arras is of huge significance on Scotland’s commemorative calendar. The battle had the highest concentration of Scottish troops fighting in a single battle during World War One. It included 44 Scottish Battalions, and seven Scottish-named Canadian Battalions.
“The battle suffered 159,000 casualties, one third of whom were Scottish – a devastating impact for those back home, and it resonates to this day in our collective memory. I’m heartened our young people will join us on this commemoration – it will help future generations not to forget the horrors and grief associated with battle.
“Dr Elsie Inglis is celebrated for her tenacity as much as her contribution to the health and welfare of soldiers during the First World War. She met great opposition when she took other women doctors and nurses to France to establish a hospital, but the Scottish Women’s Hospital movement proved to be an unstoppable force.
“There are many aspects of the First World War that impacted on our nation and left an lasting social and civic legacy. Our national commemorations one hundred years on are evidence of this.” Norman Drummond, Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, said:
“2017 will see centennial commemorations at Arras in France, Ypres in Belgium and in Edinburgh alongside a growing number of local and Regimental and Service Centenary Commemorations across Scotland.
“At each and every commemoration we are reminded of the thousands of those ‘who for our tomorrow gave their today’, and we as we approach 2018 Armistice we ask ourselves ‘What do we learn from all this?’”