The War Memorial on Dundee Law, unveiled by General Sir Ian Hamilton in 1925 (Photo: Katharine Melville)

Battle of Loos Centenary - Scotland remembers in Dundee September 2015

Posted on on 02 September 2015
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Dundee will be the focus for a weekend of Scottish national commemorations in September 2015 marking the centenary of the Battle of Loos.

A military parade, city centre remembrance service and an evening of words and music will be among the events paying tribute to the estimated 30,000 Scots who fought at Loos in Northern France in 1915.

There will also be the screening of The Guns of Loos, a silent film not shown since the 1930s.

Dundee's Lord Provost, Bob Duncan, said: "I am delighted that Dundee has been chosen to mark Scotland’s national Loos commemorations. The battle affected every Scottish regiment. It was also Dundee’s darkest hour. 

"The terrible losses, particularly among local Black Watch battalions, had a profound effect on the city." 

Seven thousand Scottish soldiers died at Loos.

Mr Duncan commented: "This weekend presents an opportunity to remember their heroic sacrifice and to honour their memory."

Lord Provost Bob Duncan was joined by 10 schoolchildren to launch the Dundee commemorative programme. They wore the glengarries and badges of all 11 of Scotland's infantry regiments, who suffered significant casualties at Loos (Photo: WW100Scotland)

The ceremonies open on September 25th, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Loos, with the lighting of the beacon at the War Memorial on Dundee Law.

The monument, situated on a peak 570 feet (174 metres) above Dundee, commands views over Tayside and Fife.

Every year, the beacon is lit to remember the fallen on the anniversary of the British Army launching its autumn offensive against the Germans in the mining region of Artois.

Access to the 2015 event, hosted by veterans of the Black Watch, will be closed because of limited space at the site. 

But the beacon lighting will be filmed for broadcast at the main commemorative service on Saturday September 26th.

Just after 11.30am, hundreds of troops and veterans will parade to Dundee's City Square for a service starting at noon.

Details are still being finalised but it will be conducted by Ministers representing the Scottish Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church of Scotland, Church of Scotland and the Chaplain General to the Armed Forces.

Members of the public are invited to line the parade route and watch the service on a big screen in the High Street. 

Summary of Dundee events marking the Battle of Loos (Centenary News also has an update on the  commemorations in Loos itself):

September 25th

*Annual lighting of beacon at Dundee Law War Memorial  (closed service).

*Remembering Loos: "Through the words and stories of those serving or left at home, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, Scottish tenor and BBC Radio Scotland classical music presenter Jamie MacDougall, actor Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne in ‘Game of Thrones’) and Scottish author James Robertson will bring to life a flavour of events 100 years ago." There will also be music from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Dundee Symphony Orchestra. Venue: Caird Hall, Dundee at 7.30pm.

*Exhibition of work produced by Morgan Academy and St John's RC High School. Venue: Marryat Hall at 6.45pm.  

Pupils have created their own exhibition panels about the First World War and its impact on Dundee, and will act as guides/facilitators to introduce the subject to the local community. 

Alongside this exhibition will be the Loos Visualisation project produced by the University of Abertay. There will be a further opportunity to view both exhibitions at the close of the Remembering Loos event.

September 26th

*Parade to City Square at 11.30 am for commemorative service, starting at noon. A limited number of tickets for City Square will be made available to the public. The organisers say  more details be announced soon.

*Screening of ‘The Guns of Loos’.  Venue: Dundee Contemporary Arts at 7pm. 

This silent film hasn’t been shown since the 1930s. "The Great War Dundee partnership in association with DCA have commissioned a new live musical score for the film by one of the UK’s leading silent film composers and performers, Stephen Horne."

September 27th

*Black Watch commemoration service: Dundee Parish Church (St Mary’s) at 11am.

The events are part of the Scottish Government’s national First World War anniversary commemorations. Organisers include Dundee City Council, Great War Dundee, Education Scotland, the Armed Forces and Legion Scotland.

Dr Billy Kenefick, historian and chair of the Great War Dundee Project and senior lecturer at the University of Dundee in the School of Humanities, said: "As the centenary of the 1914-1918 war unfolds, the Great War Dundee project will continue to construct a picture of the contributions and sacrifices made by the people of this area.”

Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop commented: "With around 30,000 Scots serving at Loos, its effect was felt throughout every village and town in Scotland.

"The weekend of national commemorations will be a fitting tribute to those that fought, those that died and those that were left at home." 

Details and links to all events will be posted on the WW100Scotland website as they become available. 

Sources: Dundee City Council; WW100Scotland

Images courtesy of Katharine Melville (Dundee Law War Memorial); WW100Scotland (Lord Provost at Dundee Law)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News