Remembering ‘the fallen’ a century after their sacrifice

Standburn War Memorial
Standburn War Memorial

The long anticipated day has arrived when communities all over the land will mark the ending of the Great War.

On November 11, 1918, the killing stopped at last and thoughts turned to ways of marking the sacrifice of those who died in more than four years of brutal conflict.

In Falkirk, even before the end of hostilities, one congregation had taken the lead in this remembrance.

Christ Church in Kerse Lane unveiled a beautiful and appropriate painting of the crucifixion based on an original by the Italian master Pietro Perugino.

In February 1918 with battle still raging on the Western Front and the outcome far from certain, the Bishop of Edinburgh dedicated the memorial which was later built into a most beautiful oak screen set in the Lady Chapel and decorated with paintings and the names of the 34 members of the congregation who gave their lives.

To mark the centenary Bill Mitchell has written a book recounting the lives of those who died, from high ranking officers like Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Malloy Kennard of Falkirk Iron Company to infantrymen like the brothers Robert and Charles Napier.

There are several events planned this weekend including an open afternoon on Saturday in the church from 2pm-4 pm when people can lay a memento in memory of a loved one affected by war or simply to pray for peace.

Sunday at 10.30am brings the formal Act of Remembrance and later the same day there will be a ‘‘Stations of Remembrance’’ service from 3pm-4 pm to which all are welcome.

As well as marking this solemn moment, visitors will be able to see for themselves what must be the most beautiful of all our church memorials as well as the first.

Meantime, in the village of Standburn, preparations are nearing completion for a special event which will take place tomorrow (Friday) at 11am at the war memorial.

One of the striking Tommy silhouettes will be unveiled and dedicated to the memory of the men named on the memorial.

The idea of gifting the silhouette was the brainchild of two friends who have lived for decades south of the border but whose hearts remain with the villagers of Standburn.

The first, James Forbes, is the grandson of the late Jimmy Forbes of Prospect House and the other, former Argyll officer Tom Leslie, son of the late Tom Leslie JP and Mrs Ellen Leslie.

The people have responded by giving wholehearted support to the project.

The community council, and especially Jo Hirst, the staff and children of Drumbowie Primary School and Falkirk Council have all helped with the planning of tomorrow’s event when Provost Buchanan will lay a wreath on behalf of the people of the district.

The Standburn memorial erected in 1922 has 28 names, mostly miners from Muiravonside and Redford Colliery, who did not return to the village which ten years later was greatly reduced in size by the move to the new model village of Westquarter.

Over the last couple of years the Standburn story, especially the old families and characters of the village, has been recalled in two books written by someone with the pen name ‘‘Rab Gibb of Carriber’’.

After careful detective work (and the help of a few spies) I can reveal exclusively that ‘‘Rab’’ is none other than Tom Leslie, one of the men behind tomorrow’s event.

The village is very much in his debt for both the stories and the Tommy silhouette which will stand as a reminder of these ordinary young men who did extraordinary things when called upon 100 years ago.