We will remember them

On Sunday I attended the service at the War Memorial in Furnace village. It was a moving ceremony with the local minister taking the service and the Royal British Legion, Scotland providing a guard of honour with a lone piper sounding a lament.

Furnace is not a large village with only 200 inhabitants. In its heyday, from the 1880s, into the early 20th Century when the Gunpowder works and Quarry were operational, the population was at least double. So when you listen to the roll call of those that died in both world wars, you realise the sacrifice this very small part of Scotland gave for the country.

There were 21 men who gave their lives in WW1 and four in WW2. Scottish soldiers suffered over 14.4% fatalities in the first war, in comparison, England was 11.8%. Over 147,000 Scots lost their lives, which is about 3% of the population of Scotland. Argyll, in particular, had a high attrition rate due the tradition of men serving in the various regiments of the Highlands and Islands.

But this is not the real story, as I listened to the roll of honour being read out during the service on Sunday. It was the names, especially the families that had had more than one casualty. There was a H. Campbell, perhaps a very distant relation? There was a H. Munro and an A. Munro; A. Townsley and C. Townsley and then D. McVicar, W. McVicar and J. McVicar. It is hard to imagine the tragedy and despair those at home experienced.

My own family was touched by WW1. My Mum’s dad Archie Christie was a miner in the village of Ormiston, East Lothian, not that different from Furnace. He worked in the mines in charge of the pit ponies and he was assigned to this role in the army. He joined the Gordon Highlanders with his brother Alex, who died in a German prisoner of war camp. My Grandad fought at Ypres but was injured in a gas attack in 1917 and was invalided home. The damage that his lungs suffered led to an early death. He lived with the horror of the war throughout the rest of his life.

So, I always honour Remembrance Day for the fallen. My generation have never faced the challenges of war and my children take a safer world as granted.

We will always remember them.