Thanks for organisers of historic Somme event

Those behind Linlithgow's landmark commemoration of the catastrophic 1916 Battle of the Somme have been specially thanked by the council.

Saturday, 4th March 2017, 3:06 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:50 am
West Lothian's 'local' regiment, the Royal Scots - senior regiment of the British Army - was conspicuous at the Somme commemoration in Linlithgow last year

The acknowledgement comes as plans are being finalised for next month’s service of remembrance for the soldiers massacred during the 1917 Battle of Arras (April 9 to May 16).

One of many bloody stalemates, it cost 160,000 British and 125,000 German casualties, and was another disastrous punctuation mark in the long, grisly story of a conflict which was to drag on until November 1918.

Every town and village in Scotland suffered terrible, irreparable loss, from battles which became bywords for futility and inhumanity.

New tactics were tried at Arras, in an attempt to learn from the pointless carnage of the Somme, but despite initial successes the end result was impasse. yet again.

Praised for the Linlithgow event, held in October last year, was the Ancre Somme Association, which helped to frame an ambitious and wide-ranging ecumenical service at St Michael’s Parish Church.

It was attended by politicians, armed forces associations, civic leaders and many members of the public.

They gathered to recall how the first day alone of the Somme offensive cost 60,000 British casualties, including 20,000 dead - the blackest day of the British Army.

The council’s executive thanked Royal British Legion Scotland, the Armed Forces Day Committee, cadet forces, war memorial committees and all others who have taken leading roles in organising and supporting events across West Lothian.

Also praised was the work of associations and individuals who not only commemorate the past but also care for and support servicemen and women today.

As part of the First World War commemoration activities schools have visited the Western Front battlefields and participated in remembrance events.

The Libraries and Museums Service has organised touring exhibition using collections and archives from the conflict, and these will continue until the centenary of the Armistice next year.

The Battle of Arras Service is at West Lothian Civic Centre on Sunday, April 9, at 9.20am.