Down Memory Lane, November 2, 2018

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Great War armistice remembered

Sunday November 11, 2018 will be marked in a special way across the UK as the nation commemorates 100 years since the signing of the armistice that brought an end to the First World War.

Annual Armistice Day services began in 1919 to remember those who were killed in the First World War and Remembrance Day services pay tribute to the men and women who served and died in the many conflicts since.

Every year Robert Laurence Binyon’s famous lines for the fallen, ‘We will remember them’ are spoken, with solemnity and respect, as the gathered crowds determine never to forget the sacrifices made by armed forces and essential services personnel.

But have some other historic battles largely been forgotten, with their centenaries having as little as a passing comment in newspaper columns?

The Courier on Saturday October 21, 1905, in its Sparks and Flashes column reported in few words: ‘Tomorrow (Saturday) is the centenary of the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson.’

Sparks and Flashes on June 24, 1914 posed the question: ‘Where were all the flags on Wednesday, the five hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn?’

A local patriot had complained that ‘he hurt his eyes looking for a rag of any sort, and that there would have been more of a show at a polisman’s wedding!’

The June 19, 1915 edition of Sparks and Flashes column began with: ‘Today (Friday) is the hundredth anniversary of Waterloo’, and proceeded to report that the Duke of Argyll had become a member of the Highland and Agricultural Society.

Perhaps the 1915 Courier could be forgiven for its scant reference to the Waterloo centenary when it devoted many column inches to the toll and progression of the conflict in Europe which had begun the previous July.

The paper reported that by that date, 10 Campbeltown men had been ‘claimed by the war’.

One death reported was that of Drum-Bugler William Wilson.

Rev Herbert Reid, chaplain to the 1/8th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, wrote to William’s parents: ‘It is with deepest regret that I have to intimate that your dear boy, Willie, was killed today by a shell which struck the dug-out where he was sheltering.

‘I had been speaking to him just three minutes before it happened, and he was cheery and bright as ever.

‘In fact, I believe he was playing the chanter of the pipes when death overtook him.’

Drum Bugler Wilson was buried with a comrade in a small orchard just behind the spot where he was killed and a neat cross with his name and details were to be erected there.

Richard Cameron at the War Memorial in 2015 remembering two Kintyre relatives killed in the First World War: Arthur Cameron in 1916 and Donald Cameron in 1918. 25_c442015remembrance01_Richard_Cameron