A party of “Old and Bold” from the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) Association, together with serving soldiers from 1 SCOTS , and several friends, will conduct a pilgrimage to commemorate the events of the final year of WW1.
The group will visit the Ypres from 17 -21 September, to mark the 100th anniversary of the final year of the war, visiting the where the soldiers of the KOSB laid down their lives as well as their graves and memorials.
They will also lay a wreath at the specially commissioned memorial bronze plaque, unveiled in 2017, at the Frezenberg Redoubt, to all 7053 Borderers, who died in WW1 , and will be the main wreath laying party at the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony on Thursday 20 September.
Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) Andy Middlemiss, a former career officer in the KOSB and one of the trip’s organisers, said: “Everyone associates 1918 with just the Armistice, but it was a very hard fought year, beginning with the massive German Spring Offensive, which rocked the Allies to the core. Then the 100 Days Campaign kicked off with the hugely successful battle of Amiens in August, and we never really looked back after that.
“The courage and sacrifice of all troops who fell in the conflict must be honoured. We want to stand on the actual spot, where our forebears fell in such terrible numbers, and we want to commemorate their memory on this trip.”
Peter Walton, Secretary of the KOSB Association, added: “We have been waiting for this trip for some time now, with real anticipation, after our last three wonderful visits to Gallipoli, The Somme and Passchendaele.
“For us to walk precisely in the footsteps of the 1918 Jocks, and see where 23 year old Sergeant McGuffie won his VC, where Private Lambie – our 18 year old Last To Fall, on 31 October 1918 – is buried, is going to be incredibly special. We must learn from what happened, we want to honour our forebears, and most importantly, we must talk about it in the future.”
After eleven months hard fighting, with appalling casualties, both from disease – Spanish flu was rife on both sides – and combat, the war was won. Hundreds of thousands on both sides paid the ultimate price in 1918 with their lives.
For Ian Domingo of Dumfries, whose grandfather fell with the KOSB at Gallipoli in 1915, this pilgrimage will be a powerful tribute to those who fell. He commented: “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 will be a small ceremony at the KOSB name panels, at the huge Tyne Cot Cemetery, with a piper, prayers from Padre Bob Higham, and readings.”
Travelling furthest will be Campbell Sutherland, who with his wife Pam, will come all the way from New Zealand to join the party. His great uncle was in the 4th KOSB in WW1,while three others served in the Royal Scots and one in the Scots Guards. He emigrated to New Zealand from Edinburgh at eight, and went on to serve with the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment.