ON the 5th of May 1924 H.M. The King of the Belgians unveiled the sole War Memorial to the London Scottish Regiment on the Battlefields of France and Flanders. The event was well covered by the press with the Daily Mirror and the Daily Sketch in attendance and as a result, a handsome leather bound photo album was produced commemorating the event. Two copies are held in the archives of the London Scottish Regimental Museum, the one shown was held by the Officers’ Mess.
The Photo Album
The memorial itself is a simple celtic cross about twenty foot high, made Aberdeen granite and designed by Captain Oliver F. HillFRIBA, a veteran who served with the Regiment. The cap badge appears at the centre of the cross and the battle honours awarded to both battalions are carved below. In relief, at the base, are the words of explanation “Near this spot on Hallowe’en 1914 the London Scottish came into action being the first territorial battalion to engage the enemy”. It is set on a small patch of grass in a Farer’s field just by the side of the old road between the towns of Wytschaete and Messines, the same road that marked the front line on that night in 1914.
A 1917 trench map of the area with the site of the Memorial circled in Green
The unveiling was quite an affair. An honour Guard was provided by 100 veterans still serving in the Regiment, ten of whom actually survived the Battle of Messines. The Pipes and Drums paraded, numerous veterans attended as did many families who had lost sons throughout the war. H.M. The King of the Belgians unveiled the memorial and our Honorary Colonel, Field Marshall Earl Haig addressed the gathering. The service was conducted by the Reverend Dr. Archibald Fleming, Regimental padre and minister of St.Columba’s Chuch, London.
The King of the Belgians meeting the Honour Guard accompanied by Field Marshal the Earl Haig
The King of the Belgians inspecting the Guard of Honour with Field Marshal Earl Haig (left)
and Major Douggie Lyall-Grant (right)
This weekend, on 6th October 2019 the London Scottish Regiment will once again travel to the small Belgian town of Messines (Mesen in Flemish) to re-dedicate our memorial which is something that is done every five years.The Soldiers of today’s Regiment, accompanied by our Cadets, Regimental Association, Pipes and Drums and, of course, the people of Messines will pay tribute to our forebearers. It is the single memorial to the London Scottish on the battlefields of the Western Front and, as such, is the focal point of remembrance and reflection. By standing in the footsteps of those who went before we remember them and their achievements but also take pride in our Regimental identity and celebrate the current generation of the London Scottish Regiment.
The Memorial in 2014