Hawick honours war dead at national commemorations

Standard bearer Michael Knight, pipe major Michael Bruce, Fergus Cattanach, Sandy McLaren and Susan Moffat.
Standard bearer Michael Knight, pipe major Michael Bruce, Fergus Cattanach, Sandy McLaren and Susan Moffat.
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Hawick musicians were part of national commemorations at the weekend as they played their part in remembering those killed in the First World War’s Battle of Arras.

Members of Hawick Scout pipe bands took to the Edinburgh Castle esplanade on Sunday evening in memory of the 18,000 Scots killed in the battle on the centenary of the conflict

Hawick Scout Pipe Band form part of the massed bands.

Hawick Scout Pipe Band form part of the massed bands.

The 15-strong contingent from Hawick performed a traditional beating retreat alongside the four other pipe bands, including Jedburgh Royal British Legion, Cockenzie and Port Seton and RAF Leuchars bands, as well as a joint performance with the HM Royal Marines Scotland band.

Hawick Scout Pipe Band chairman Sandy McLaren said: “We have played at the castle before as we represent the Hawick legion, but this was a first for a lot of the younger players and it was a great experience for them.

“I don’t think there was any doubt at all about how well they performed, and it was well commented upon.

“There were a lot of tired folk when we got back home, but it was an honour for the band to be involved.

Hawick Scout Pipe Band play at the Battle of Arras centenary commemorations at Edinburgh Castle.

Hawick Scout Pipe Band play at the Battle of Arras centenary commemorations at Edinburgh Castle.

“We were delighted to take part, and it’s a great experience for young and old alike.

“To play alongside the Royal Marines is something we will remember for ever more.”

The town was also represented at the commemorations by Hawick standard bearers Michael Knight and Susan Moffat, carrying the branch and women’s standards respectively while Hawick Royal British Legion stalwart Brian McLeod acted as parade commander on the day.

Mr McLeod added: “With 35 different standard bearers involved, it was a big parade.

Young drummer Alexander Bathgate.

Young drummer Alexander Bathgate.

“My job involved getting them up to standard and making sure all the procedures were done correctly. We are all volunteers and had a very short time to practise for this, but the bands were good and the parade went very well.

“The youngsters in the bands performed very well, as did the young standard bearers.”

Following a full day of rehearsals at Dreghorn Army barracks, the successful beating retreat was watched by dignitaries, military personnel and veterans who had earlier taken part in a service at the National War Memorial in the castle.

The esplanade was also open to members of the public, and the whole event was streamed live through the Legion Scotland Facebook page to more than 4,500 people.

Hawick Scout Pipe Band play at the Battle of Arras centenary commemorations at Edinburgh Castle.

Hawick Scout Pipe Band play at the Battle of Arras centenary commemorations at Edinburgh Castle.

Earlier in the day, similar commemorations were held in Greenock and in France, where the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, Russell Barr, conducted a service at Faubourg d’Amiens cemetery in Arras, which also saw the Royal Regiment of Scotland band conduct a beating retreat.

The battle – from April 9 to May 16, 1917 – had the highest concentration of Scottish troops fighting in any engagement during the war. Of the 129 battalions that took part, 44 were Scottish.

On parade at Edinburgh Castle.

On parade at Edinburgh Castle.