Descendants of four brothers who died during World War One, including William Herbert Anderson who was awarded the Victoria Cross, today came together to launch the commemoration in Scotland that will mark the 100th anniversary of the First Armistice.
Organised by WW100 Scotland in conjunction with Glasgow City Council, a multigenerational service will take place in Glasgow Cathedral at 4pm on Sunday 11 November attended by over 1,000 people including HRH The Princess Royal, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow Eva Bolander.
The service will focus 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
Broadcast live on BBC One Scotland, the service will be narrated by ex-Royal Marine, TV presenter and athlete JJ Chalmers and will have a multigenerational focus, with the National Youth Choir of Scotland singing alongside the Glasgow Cathedral Choir. A limited number of tickets are available to the public here and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
To begin the Service, Orcadian Andy Cant will play a specially commissioned Fiddle tribute entitled Glimmers of Goodbye and chair of WW100 Scotland and the Scottish Commemorations Panel, Professor Norman Drummond’s commemorative prayer will be read by three generations of one family and by young people from Canada, Australia and New Zealand representing the Commonwealth. The Service will conclude with Piper Andy Cant playing his own composition In Remembrance.
Professor Norman Drummond, commented: “In developing our plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the First Armistice, we wanted to ensure the traditions of Remembrance Sunday – reflecting on all those who had served in all wars and conflicts over the years – remained. We understood that people in Scotland would want to be amongst ‘their ain folk’.
“From 12noon the focus will shift as we remember 100 years since the end of WW1. There were very mixed emotions around the country as war drew to a close.
“We believe we have created a fitting, traditional yet contemporary service to reflect the mood of the nation at the time of the First Armistice 100 years ago.”
The service will include readings by the Lord Provost of Glasgow and Gurjit Singh Lalli, founder and curator of TEDxGlasgow. The Moderator of the Church of Scotland, The Right Rev Susan Brown, will give the final blessing. Legion Scotland singer Amy Hawthorn will be joined by the National Youth Choir of Scotland and Glasgow Cathedral Choir in a musical repertoire that will include WW1 songs and traditional hymns. Ceitlin Smith, the 2014 Mòd Gold Medal Winner, will sing Runrig’s poignant Gaelic song ‘An Ubhal is Airde (The Highest Apple)’.
In the evening, an audience of around 2000 will fill the Usher Hall for a performance of acclaimed multimedia production Far, Far from Ypres. Scottish folk favourites including Barbara Dickson will bring the story of prototypical Scots soldier Jimmy McDonald to life through the iconic songs, poems and real stories of the war. The show will mark the final performance in a ten venue commemorative tour of Scotland, which has received standing ovations and critical acclaim throughout. A limited number of tickets are still available for the performance here.
Lord Provost of Glasgow, Councillor Eva Bolander, said: “Glasgow is extremely proud to host the national service marking the end of the Great War. We were honoured to hold the UK service signalling the start of First World War commemorations back in 2014.
“Throughout the last four years Glasgow has honoured seven of its First World War VC heroes with commemorative paving stones including Bertie Anderson – whose stone can be viewed outside the People’s Palace. I had the pleasure of meeting this remarkable man’s great-grandson, Robin Scott-Elliot and his family at that unveiling ceremony and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.”
Of the 700,000 Scots who joined the forces, more than 100,000 died during WW1. Nearly every village, city and town in Scotland has some form of memorial displaying the names of their war dead.
Lieutenant Colonel William Herbert Anderson, known as Bertie, was commanding the 12th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry, as it moved through France in March 1918. He was awarded the VC for courageously leading his command in a double-counter attack, successfully driving the enemy away despite being overwhelmingly outnumbered. However his bravery cost him his life and he died behind enemy lines on 25 March 1918 at the age of 36.
Bertie was the last of four brothers to perish in the war – Charlie had passed away on 19 December 1914 at the age of 26, followed by Ronnie on 8 October 1915 at the age of 30. Both had also served in the Highland Light Infantry. A week before Bertie’s death, his youngest brother Teddie, who had transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, went down in a plane over Winchester on 16 March 1918 aged just 21.
Bertie’s great-grandson, Robin Scott-Elliot, who will be attending the 11 November commemoration with wife Karen and daughters Iona and Torrin, commented: “It is unthinkable what the parents of Bertie, Charlie, Ronnie and Teddie must have gone through, losing all four sons in less than four years. When I reflect on their stories and think about when they died in relation to my age now, I’m struck by how truly short their lives were.
“The impact of their deaths was felt in the family for years – their parents never recovered, and my grandfather, who was a toddler at the time of Bertie’s death, had to go through life without a father – an experience which was shared by many after the war.
“I am very proud of the brave actions of my great-grandfather and great-uncles and will be remembering their sacrifices – and millions of others – with my family at Glasgow Cathedral on 11 November. It’s so important to pass these stories on to the next generation so that the devastation caused by the war is never forgotten.”
Iona Scott-Elliot, aged 11, great-great granddaughter of Bertie, added: “I think we should always try to remember my great-great grandad and all the other men and women like him even though they died a long time ago.”
Norman Drummond 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.”