This weekend, Hibernian Football Club will pay its respects to the 216 men from the 1st/7th (Leith) Battalion who lost their lives 100 years ago in Britain’s worst rail disaster, by laying a wreath at Rosebank Cemetery where the majority of those killed were buried in a communal grave.
The tragedy, which touched every member of the Leith community, saw a troop train carrying 498 members of the Battalion crash at Quintinshill, north of Gretna, injuring 220 men as well as the 216 killed. The train was carrying troops to Liverpool to embark for Gallipoli to serve in World War One.
On Saturday a military parade will leave the former Dalmeny Street Drill Hall of the 1st/7th (Leith Battalion) at 10.15am and make its way to the cememtery where a service will take place at 11.00am. It will be attended by HRH The Princess Royal, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, The Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, and direct descendants of those killed or injured in the disaster.
Ahead of the event, historian Trevor Royle, who sits on the Commemorations Panel appointed by Scottish Ministers to oversee Scotland’s World War One commemorations, met Hibernian FC Captain Liam Craig at the Easter Road club to help lay a plaque in memory of the players and supporters who died during World War One.
Leeann Dempster, Chief Executive of Hibernian FC, said:
“The majority of the young people on the train were from the Leith area, and a great many of them will have been Hibernian supporters or had strong connections to the Club. The impact on the community of Leith and further afield of the tragic events of that day was enormous, with so many families touched. It is right that we all join together to remember them.
“It is not fully known how many former Hibernian players were directly involved in the Quintinshill crash – some believe it may have been as many as eight – but we do know that the father and two uncles of Bobby Combe, who enjoyed a long and successful career with the Club in the 40s and 50s, survived the tragedy.”
Trevor Royle, commented:
“Hibernian FC plays an important role in the community of Leith which was so hard hit by the Quintinshill disaster. While many feared their loved ones going off to war, little did they know that tragedy would lie so close to home.
“We’re delighted that Hibernian FC will take part in this weekend’s commemorations and will have this plaque as a lasting memory of Scotland’s World War One contribution.”