Over 1,000 people, including members of the public, WW1 descendants and dignitaries, attended a multi-generational Service at 4pm in Glasgow Cathedral today to mark the 100th anniversary of the First Armistice.
Organised by WW100 Scotland in conjunction with Glasgow City Council, the Service was attended by HRH The Princess Royal, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence; First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; Glasgow’s Lord Provost, Councillor Eva Bolander in her capacity as Lord Lieutenant; Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop; Ken Macintosh, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament; The Baroness Goldie DL and The Right Revd Susan Brown, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Around 700,000 Scots joined the forces to serve in WW1, more than 100,000 died. The Glasgow Cathedral Service, narrated by ex-Royal Marine, TV presenter and athlete JJ Chalmers, aimed to reflect the feelings of the times, focusing on four key themes:
Sadness and Relief – sadness for the loss of life but relief that war was near an end
Joy and Victory – joy of returning home from war and for the sense of victory despite all the odds
Seeds of Change – life could never be the same again
Courage for the Future – in uncertain times hold on to values and to hope
It opened in a poignant moment with the lights dimming and Orcadian musician Andy Cant playing a specially commissioned Fiddle tribute entitled Glimmers of Goodbyes. The National Youth Choir of Scotland, Glasgow Cathedral Choir and Legion Scotland singer Amy Hawthorn led the congregation in a musical repertoire that included WW1 songs and traditional hymns.
The WW100 Scotland Armistice Centenary Prayer, composed by WW100 Scotland chair Professor Norman Drummond, was read by three generations of a German/Scottish family, along with Commonwealth representatives from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The Lord Provost of Glasgow and Gurjit Singh Lalli, founder and curator of TEDxGlasgow gave readings and Ceitlin Smith, the 2014 Mòd Gold Medal Winner, sang Runrig’s poignant Gaelic song ‘An Ubhal is Àirde (The Highest Apple)’.
Ten year old Cara Lucas from Priorsford Primary School in Peebles represented the younger generations in her reading of the Prayer of St Francis. Cara’s father, Alexander James Lucas was a Royal Marine Commando serving with 45 Commando based in Arbroath, when he was killed in action in Kajaki on November 24, 2008. He was 24 years old.
The service finished with The Moderator of the Church of Scotland, The Right Rev Susan Brown, giving the final blessing as the lighting in the Cathedral brightened and Piper Andy Cant played his own composition In Remembrance.
HRH The Princess Royal then signed Glasgow Cathedral’s visitors book and was handed a posy by Iona and Torrin Scott-Elliot, the great great grandchildren of Lieutenant Colonel William Herbert Anderson. ‘Bertie’, who was in the 12th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry, was posthumously awarded the VC for courageously leading his command in a double-counter attack in France, successfully driving the enemy away despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered. His bravery cost him his life and he died behind enemy lines on 25 March 1918 at the age of 36.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Today was a very fitting and poignant service as we leave a legacy for future generations on the history and horrors of World War One.”
“It is hard for us to imagine exactly how people would have felt one hundred years ago. There would no doubt have been elation and relief that the war had finally ended, but the loss of so many lives and the injuries sustained had a lasting impact on families and communities – an impact which current and future generations must never forget.”
Glasgow’s Lord Provost Eva Bolander, said: “Today marks 100 years since the end of the Great War. A moment in history where we draw a line in our centenary commemorations of the First World War. It’s important we continue to remember the bravery of those who fought and died for our freedoms and reflect on the importance of tolerance, peace and mutual respect in an uncertain and complex world. Values that help promote understanding.”
In the evening, an audience of around 2000 filled the Usher Hall for a performance of acclaimed multimedia production Far, Far from Ypres. Scottish folk favourites including Barbara Dickson brought the story of prototypical Scots soldier Jimmy McDonald to life through the iconic songs, poems and real stories of the war. The show was the final performance in a ten venue commemorative tour of Scotland, which received standing ovations and critical acclaim throughout.
Professor Norman Drummond, chair of WW100 Scotland and the Scottish Commemorations Panel, added: “We must also remember that 11 November 1918 was sadly not the end of lives lost during WW1. In the early hours of January 1, 1919 over 200 Lewis and Harris sailors and their crew perished when HMY Iolaire hit the rocks of ‘The Beasts of Holm’. This remains one of the worst UK maritime disasters of the 20th Century. The tragedy will be remembered in commemorations on Lewis 100 years to the day.”