A party of “Old and Bold” from the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) has returned from its pilgrimage to commemorate the Battle of Passchendaele.
A group of KOSB veterans, along with families and friends, travelled to the Passchendaele area in Belgium to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle, spending three days visiting the battlefields and KOSB graves and memorials.
Lt Col (Retd.) Andy Middlemiss, who helped organise the trip, said he believed it served a valuable purpose: “Everyone associates Passchendaele with mud, misery and high casualties. We stood on the actual spot, where our forebears fell in such terrible numbers, and we commemorated their memory on this trip.”
Andy’s wife Jo, also went on the trip, and as the mother of a serving soldier, was able to relate to how those left at home would have been affected: “It would have been horrendous for those on the homefront too. I can really identify with that .The worst bit was probably the not knowing, and the length of time it took to get any hard information and news.”
President of the KOSB Association, Colonel Angus Loudon, commented: “Passchendaele is one of our main battle honours, where we lost so many young Jocks, and where we won two VCs in one day- CSM Skinner and CQMS Grimbaldeston. So for us to walk precisely in the footsteps, on the ground, of the 1917 Jocks, and see where those gallant deeds were done, was incredibly special.
“We must learn from what happened, we want to honour our forebears, and most importantly, we must continue to talk about it. As Norman Drummond, Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel says – ‘What do we learn from all this?’”
After three and a half months hard fighting, with appalling casualties, both from disease and combat, the battle ceased, mainly due to the dreadful winter in Flanders that year. Hundreds of thousands on both sides paid the ultimate price with their lives.
On Saturday 19 August, the KOSB party unveiled a specially commissioned memorial bronze plaque in a large Belgian led ceremony at the Frezenberg Redoubt, near Zonnebeke, to all 7050 Borderers who died in WW1.
The 7th / 8th Battalion of the KOSB had stormed and taken that very spot on 31 July 1917 with over 300 casualties.
For Ian Domingo of Dumfries, whose grandfather fell at Gallipoli, this pilgrimage was a powerful tribute to those who fell: “It is important to remember that these men of the KOSB, and thousands of others on both sides, showed incredibly bravery in terrible conditions.” he said “So, the conclusion of our trip was a very moving ceremony at the huge Tyne Cot Memorial, opposite the KOSB name panels, with piping and prayers from Padre Rory MacLeod, and lovely readings.”