As commemorations continue around the world to mark the centenaries of many battles of World War One, Prince Charles has paid his own tributes to soldiers from a remote part of Scotland. Charles laid a wreath at a new memorial cairn built to honour soldiers from the Moray farming community and several of the neighbouring parishes who died in the conflict.
Charles, known as the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland, visited the cairn on Sunday where he paid his tributes to the men of the area who went to fight in the war, many of them with the 5th and 6th Battalions, the Gordon Highlanders. Charles’ tribute bore a message which read “In special memory of those from the Cabrach, and the parishes of Rhynie, Lumsden and Dufftown who lost their lives during the First World War.”
The Cabrach is a rural part of Moray and the cairn, at Inverharroch, has been built with the support of the local community association along traditional lines with local stones piled into the familiar round structure and with a dedication plaque at its base. The foundations were laid at the end of 2014, as part of the many acts of commemoration which took part that year to mark the centenary of the start of World War One. It has been built from local stone and is dedicated to the memory of all those killed in World War One and World War Two.
The prince wore a Gordon Highlanders kilt for the event. He stood alongside local people for a short service at the cairn which was followed by a minute’s silence in memory of those who died. Another wreath was laid on behalf of the local community by John Gordon who, at 88, is the oldest veteran of the Royal Observer Corps and whose family has farmed in the Cabrach area for over 300 years. Following the ceremony, Charles spoke to many of those who attended.
Alongside those two wreaths was a tartan trimmed cushion dotted with wooden crosses for some of the men from the area known to have been killed in action in World War One. These simple memorials each bore a single poppy and had the names and dates of death of individual soldiers written on them.
But the true death toll of men and women from this rural part of Scotland in World War One is still unknown. No accurate record of those who died has been compiled but the Imperial War Museum estimates it could be several hundred. It is thought many men from the area who went off to fight died of illnesses including flu – partly because their rural way of life meant they had little immunity to diseases not seen in their locality.
The cairn has been built with the help and guidance of Marc Ellington who is a leading authority on Scottish cultural heritage. He said ”as well as being one of the finest memorial cairns to be built in Scotland in recent years, this is an outstanding example of what a local community, working together with energy and determination, can achieve.”
And Mr Ellington added that Prince Charles had been impressed by this unusual and very fitting local tribute, adding ”His Royal Highness was greatly pleased with the monument as he is extremely interested in traditional building skills. He is a great champion of traditional skills and rural communities. It was a fitting end to a great project.”
Photo credit: armymedicine via Flickr