IN PICTURES: Hawick drumhead service honours war dead

Drummers line up to deliver their drums to be made into an alter.
Drummers line up to deliver their drums to be made into an alter.

Silent tribute could be the most eloquent way of remembering those 100,000 Scots soldiers who lost their lives in World War I, almost a century ago.

That was according to reverend Michael Scouler, who led hundreds of Borderers in a tribute to the Great War dead at Hawick’s Common Haugh on Sunday.

Reverend Michael Scouler and Hawick legion's chairman Ian McLeod behind the drumhead alter.

Reverend Michael Scouler and Hawick legion's chairman Ian McLeod behind the drumhead alter.

The service, organised by Hawick’s branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland, remembered them and its own 693 World War I dead, with a drumhead service.

Replicating those held on the front line during World War I, when drums piled high and draped with colours were used in place of an altar, the ceremony was the first to be staged in Hawick since 1995 and the only one planned in the Borders this year.

Veterans and representatives from legions across the Borders gathered alongside standard bearers and a massed pipe and drums display for the hour-long open-air ceremony.

Revered Michael Scouler, previously an Army chaplain now chaplain at the Borders General Hospital, conducted the service alongside Rev Lisa-Jane Rankin, minister of Wilton and Teviothead churches, and Captain Caroline Brophy-Parkin of the Salvation Army in Hawick.

He said: “In the 100 years since the great war, just about every word that could be said about it has been said. In some ways silence is more eloquent. Silence is a respectful tribute to what we are remembering today.

“We have gathered, and that is as eloquent as any tribute.

“What pulls you here today was a big bang over 100 years ago, and which still casts a shadow across the world.

“There those who experienced it, it was unimaginably huge. It was as calamitous as anything they could imagine. They could not imagine anything greater, so they christened it the Great War.

“The thing that kept soldiers going was a faith that civilisation would somehow re-emerge better. That it would not happen again. Civilisation would learn. But did it learn? In just two decades time it descended into conflict again.

“We dignify their sacrifice by gathering here today.

“Never again, surely, will the world go to war which such unbridled enthusiasm and joy.”

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The poignant ceremony also featured the first public performance of the song Always a Borderer by Hawick musician Alan Brydon in memory of members of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers killed during the Great War.

Hawick Saxhorn Band provided accompaniment to the hymns before a massed pipe band made up of almost 100 pipers and drummers from across the Borders led a parade along the High Street.

Here, outside the town hall, the salute was taken by Royal British Legion Scotland president Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin, Lieutenant Colonel Colin Hogg, honorary provost of Hawick Watson McAteer and Major John Aitkin, former chairman of the Royal British Legion Scotland.

This autumn will see a range of special services to mark 100 years since the Allies and Germans’ guns finally went silent at the end of the 1914-to-1918 conflict.