Royal Regiment of Scotland joins this year’s Linlithgow Marches Day

Soldiers from the 2/10 Battalion returning to Leith in June 1919. Some 400 were invited to lead the Marches Day parade on June 17 that year, a spectacle which will be repeated on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, thanks to the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Soldiers from the 2/10 Battalion returning to Leith in June 1919. Some 400 were invited to lead the Marches Day parade on June 17 that year, a spectacle which will be repeated on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, thanks to the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Local soldiers returning from Russia in 1919 were invited to lead the Marches Day parade that year.

And the tribute will be replicated 100 years on, when the Royal Regiment of Scotland leads the parade on the first Tuesday after the second Thursday in June.

It’s a top-secret project, two years in the making, which Deacons Court Provost John Cunningham has been involved in from its earliest inception.

But he’s glad the cat is finally out of the bag and he can tell people about what is shaping up to be an extraordinary Marches Day.

John said: “We found out about the soldiers in 1919 from Lieutenant Colonel James Blythe who, until he retired recently, worked at Edinburgh Castle.

“He contacted West Lothian Provost Tom Kerr, who organised a meeting through in Livingston.

“Tom, James, the Deacons Court then Provost Jim Carlin and I attended that first meeting and the ball just rolled from there.

“There have been a lot of meetings since, the last one being next Thursday to finalise all the arrangements.

“It’s been pretty top secret so it’s nice to finally be able to tell people about it!

“It’s really exciting that the last commemoration of World War One will be taking place at this year’s Marches.

“It’s a one-off event which should be spectacular, with 250 officers from the Royal Regiment, their Shetland pony mascot, two bands and the colours leading the Marches Day procession.

“So we’re hoping people from near and far will come out to see this final salute to the men who returned from war 100 years ago, as well as those who, sadly, did not.”

The Royal Regiment of Scotland (SCOTS) was given the freedom rights of West Lothian on May 28, 2011.

And they will exercise those rights on June 18 when the Regiment will be represented by a ceremonial contingent of soldiers from several battalions.

The contingent will be accompanied by the Regimental Mascot, a Shetland pony called Corporal Cruachan IV, the Pipes and Drums and The Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland (SCOTS Band).

A spokeswoman for the regiment said: “It is an absolute privilege to be invited by West Lothian Council to exercise our freedom rights and to help Linlithgow celebrate the Riding of the Marches.”

It was hoped that the troops would also bring another piece of memorabilia with them to the Marches but sadly that has fallen through.

John explained: “We had hoped the Archangel Gun captured by the Scots during the 1919 expedition in Russia would go on display, along with other attractions, at the Vennel during Marches Day.

“However, given its age, we’ve had to abanodon those plans and it will remain in its current home at Redford Barracks.”

Regardless, there will be plenty of pomp and ceremony as the town pays tribute to the soldiers who returned in 1919.

The Royal Regiment will set off from the Low Port Centre just before 11am and march to the Cross.

Here, the salute will be taken by Major General Bob Bruce, Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, accompanied by John Cunningham, Tom Kerr, Lord Lieutenant of West Lothian Moira Niven and other dignitaries.

As befits their honoured status as Freemen of the Burgh, the troops will then lead the Marches Day parade along the High Street to Linlithgow Bridge, before returning back into the town where they will disband at the Low Port.

The Major General will later accompany the Deacons Court to Blackness where he and the Lord Lieutenant will lay a wreath at the cenotaph.

Several officers will also attend a church service in St Michael’s the Sunday prior to the Marches to lay a wreath in memory of the fallen.

And the Major General will be a guest speaker at the Provost’s breakfast on Marches Day.

In the second of his three year term as Deacons Court Provost, John is very much looking forward to the day.

He added: “Every Marches Day is a spectacle but this year will be like no other and is unlikely to happen again.

“After two years in the planning, it’s exciting that everything is now coming to fruition and I’m very much looking forward to it.

“It will be an unmissable spectacle, adding an extra dimension to what is already an incredible day.

“I’m sure the people of Linlithgow will come out in force to pay one final tribute to the soldiers of 1919.”

Brief history of 2/10 Battalion by Bruce Jamieson

The headline in the Gazette of Friday, June 20, 1919, said it all. The Marches Once Again! Cancelled when the Great War began, it was time for the town to finally celebrate again.

Some called the event, on Tuesday, June 17, the Riding of the Victory Marches as it would witness the return of many of the soldiers who had lived to return. For many, the war had ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

However, the 2/10 Royal Scots were still locked in conflict against a Bolshevik army in the Valley of the Dvina in Russia.

The 2/10 Battalion had been raised in Linlithgow in 1914 and spent most of the war on coastal defence duties around Berwick. In June 1918, however, it received orders to move to Russia and in July a contingent of 1000 men sailed for Archangel.

Some 3000 miles from home, the Scots repulsed Bolshevik attacks and, in the process, captured a 76mm (3-inch) gun.

In June 1919, the regiment returned to Scotland and some 400 members were invited to attend the Marches.

The Crying had taken place on Friday, June 13, 1919 when Town Crier Sam Weir paraded the High Street announcing the forthcoming event – ordering all inhabitants to attend under penalty of a fine of £100 Scots.

Several government wagons were requested to convey soldiers to and from Linlithgow Bridge and Blackness.

After breakfast, Provost William Philip and the other dignitaries walked to Linlithgow Palace where he addressed the troops, saying: “The medium of words breaks down and completely fails when one attempts to describe what we all feel towards our own boys who had experienced the horrors of the battlefields.”