Some of the survivors from the railway disaster near Gretna in Scotland which involved about 500 men of the 7th Battalion, Royal Scots (Photo: courtesy of Imperial War Museum © IWM Q 70009)

Scotland marks 100th anniversary of Gretna troop train disaster

Date of Event: 22 May 2015
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The worst rail disaster in UK history will be remembered as part of Scotland's First World War Centenary commemorations in 2015.

More than 200 soldiers of the Royal Scots, on their way to fight at Gallipoli, were killed in a collision between three trains near Gretna, in May 1915. 

The 100th anniversary of the tragedy will be marked on May 22nd and 23rd 2015, with events in both Gretna and the Edinburgh district of Leith where the troops are buried.

Princess Anne, who's Patron, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) Regimental Association, will attend the commemorations.

The Scottish Government says the cities of Stirling and Dundee have also been chosen to host Centenary commemorations this year of First World War events that have 'particular resonance for Scotland and the Scots.'

Most of the 227 people killed in the Gretna rail disaster were territorial soldiers, serving with the Leith-based 7th Battalion, the Royal Scots. 

They were travelling to Liverpool to board ship for Gallipoli when a signalling error resulted in a head-on crash between their troop train and a local train on the mainline between Glasgow and Carlisle.

The wreckage was then almost immediately hit by an express, causing the gas lighting in the wooden carriages to explode.

The soldiers were buried at Rosebank Cemetery in Edinburgh. Two signalmen were jailed for causing their deaths in what became known as the Quintinshill disaster, after the signal box where they were based.

Announcing Scotland's Centenary plans, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: "Throughout 2015 – the busiest year in Scotland’s five-year commemorations programme – we will continue to encourage people in all parts of Scotland to join with us to consider the impact of the First World War, which claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Scots and left many more injured or disabled."

Source: Scottish Government; Buckingham Palace

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museum ©IWM (Q70009)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News


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