On a blisteringly hot summer’s day in 1914, King George V and Queen Mary paid a visit to
Crowds lined the streets on that day – Saturday, July 11, most waving flags and cheering their monarch, nicknamed the Sailor King in tribute to the 15 years he had spent in the Royal Navy.
One group of patriotic workers employed in Callender’s Tannery decorated the entrance to their close at 194 High Street with an expression which touched on the burgh motto, “My fruit is fidelity to God and the King.”
To further emphasise their feelings, large naval guns protruded from the garlanded frontage – highlighting the fact that Britain was ahead in the Naval Race, having built 29 Dreadnought battleships to Germany’s 17.
Despite the celebrations on the day, it was obvious that there was much tension between the European nations – tension that was echoed in Lord Roseberry’s pamphlet issued to all Linlithgow schoolchildren.
In it he stated that, in addition to the King’s visit, 1914 was also the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and asked “Are you children of today worthy of Bruce and his fellows?
‘‘Are you ready to die for your country, your freedom and your King?”
Hundreds of the young folk of the burgh were soon to find out if they were ready - and many were to pay the supreme sacrifice for their bravery.
War was declared on August 4 and four years of conflict ensued.
Meanwhile, in July 1914, on the steps of St Michael’s Church, the King and Queen were presented to the newly installed minister, the Rev Robert Coupar, and his wife, Ella.
Seven years later, their son’s name was to join the 157 others inscribed on the town’s war memorial within the church, unveiled on July 24, 1921, by Mrs Coupar herself.
On Armistice Day this year, Tuesday, November 11, Bruce Jamieson will stage a presentation in Linlithgow Academy Theatre highlighting the part played by Scotland in general, and Linlithgow in particular, in the Great War.
Based on his research in Scotland and overseas, it will feature material concerning many of Linlithgow’s fallen.
Accompanied by multimedia effects by Linlithgow Sound and Lighting and music by Cockleroy it promises to be an evening not to be missed.
Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm performance. Entry is free but donations will be welcome.