Monday, August 4, will mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One – “the war to end all wars”.
Sadly, as history has shown, the brutal conflict wasn’t the last world war, but those who fought so bravely staunchly believed their sacrifices would lead to a better world for their children and future generations.
Men from the Falkirk district did their duty. Some came back from the frontlines of northern Europe, thousands locally did not.
As the news broke of the declaration of war a report in The Falkirk Herald on Wednesday, August 5, 1914, stated: “The outbreak of hostilities on the Continent produced a sensation in the town and surrounding districts. Throughout the day there was, despite the inclement nature of the weather, an unusual stir on the streets, and it was plainly evident that one subject, that of war, was engrossing universal attention.”
When it officially ended with an Armistice on November 11, 1918, headlines were much more bullish, as well as bitter, following more than four years of bloody battles.
On Saturday, November 9, 1918, the Herald reported that the Armistice was due to be signed.
On Wednesday, November 13, headlines featured ‘Madness of defeat – Germany’s hate for America’, ‘A night’s bayonet fighting’, ‘Desperate hand-to-hand encounter’ and ‘Brutes and bullies’.
Throughout the conflict more than 3000 courageous souls from our area did not return and a great number are buried where they fell in battle. These men were ordinary, workers in local foundries and mines, not trained soldiers like the Army has today, but they were just as committed and audacious in the heat of battle – lives that can never be forgotten.
Falkirk Provost Pat Reid, who will attend a national service in Glasgow on Monday, said: “It’s hard to articulate the debt of gratitude we owe to these people who gave their lives for us, but I am so pleased that our younger generation are remembering. I saw this firsthand on a trip with St Mungos High School to Contalmaison, France where the pupils were close to tears laying wreaths.
“I believe one in 10 people from Falkirk who signed up were killed which had a devastating effect on the community. It is important they are remembered for their sacrifice.”
A national online campaign has been launched by the Commonwealth War Graves commission and Royal British Legion to gather tributes to every serviceman and woman from the Commonwealth who died in World War One.
The ‘Every Man Remembered’ website, www.everymanremembered.org, will allow people to commemorate relatives by posting details of their lives in what is being called the “greatest act of remembrance”. To help with the remembrance of our heroes The Falkirk Herald is compiling a Roll of Honour of every soldier’s name who died in World War One from all Falkirk communities.
If you are a keeper of your community’s Roll of Honour, please get in touch. We also want to tell the stories behind who the soldiers were, where they were from, employment and family history so if you have details or photographs, we would like to feature them.
To get in touch e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call (01324) 690249.
Help us ensure our soldiers will be remembered forever.
LIGHTS OUT IN FALKIRK
Falkirk residents have been invited to join in a nostalgic tribute to mark the centenary of the declaration of war on Germany 100 years ago.
As part of a nationwide show of remembrance it is hoped communities across the district will support the ‘Lights Out’ appeal by switching lights off between 10 and 11 p.m. on August 4 and placing a single candle or light at a window instead.
The idea from the WWI Centenary Arts Commission has the support of the Royal British Legion and in Scotland its parent charity Poppyscotland.
It is also being backed by Falkirk Community Trust which has arranged for major local venues including Falkirk Town Hall, Callander House and Falkirk Library to take part in the event.
Chairman Ian Scott said: “As well as the ‘Lights Out’ tribute we have also organised a number of exhibitions, workshops, talks, films and online activities that will help everyone to pause and reflect on the impact of war on our communities.”
Poppyscotland’s Colin Flinn said: “Scotland made a hugely significant contribution to the First World War and there was not a community left untouched by its devastating impact.
“Lights Out is a simple yet powerful way for Scots to join the rest of the UK in a collective moment of commemoration to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice while supporting those affected by the consequences of war today.”
‘Lights Out’ takes inspiration from the famous words of wartime Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey who said on August 3, 1914: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”
The British Legion is hoping one million candles across the UK will be lit on Monday evening. Limited edition centenary candles are available from M&S stores or online.