Tribute to Bo’ness born hero soldier

Harcus Strachan
Harcus Strachan

The bravery of a Bo’ness-born soldier will be commemorated at a special ceremony in the town next Monday.

Exactly 100 years to the day since Henry Mareus ‘Harcus’ Strachan’s gallantry saw him awarded a Victoria Cross, a lasting memorial will be unveiled.

As part of the national World War One Centenary campaign, commemorative paving stones are being laid at birth places of Victoria Cross recipients.

A total of 469 stones will be laid across 400 communities in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Harcus Strachan was born on November 7, 1887 and lived at Hollywood House, Grahamsdyke Road.

He studied at the Royal High School in Edinburgh before emigrating to Canada as an 18-year-old where he farmed in Alberta.

In 1915, one year after the Great War had begun, he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force, becoming a member of the Fort Garry Horse with the Canadian Cavalary Brigade.

His actions in the Battle of Cambrai at Masnieres in France on November 20, 1917 saw him recieve the highest award for gallantry.

When his squadron leader Captain Campbell was killed by machine gun fire, Harcus took command. Fort Garry Horse were orded to advance across St Quentin Canal to Masnieres, but the village was still held by German soldiers.

Harcus led his squadron through the German machine gun posts and battery, killing seven German soldiers with his sword and capturing 15.

He received his VC from King George V on January 6, 1918.

Harcus, whose sister Grace was the first Bo’ness Fair Queen in 1897, went on to serve in World War Two and commanded the 1st Battalion Edmonton Fusiliers.

He died on May 1, 1982, aged 97, and was the longest surviving VC holder.

In September 2013, a lake in Manitoba was named after him.

Monday’s service will see a parade leave Bo’ness Town Hall at 12.15pm making its way to the war memorial. The commemorative stone will be laid close by.

Depute Provost Ann Ritchie will give an address with Padre Rory Macleod leading the service of dedication. Joan Boyd from Bo’ness Community Council will read the citation before Lord Lieutenant Alan Simpson unveils the VC slab.

This will be followed by wreath laying and a two minute silence.