Midlothian remembers Passchendaele

Provost Adam Montgomery (on right) presents the two wreaths to Brian Harrison to be laid as part of the centenary commemorations of the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as Passchendaele.
Provost Adam Montgomery (on right) presents the two wreaths to Brian Harrison to be laid as part of the centenary commemorations of the Third Battle of Ypres, commonly known as Passchendaele.

Two wreaths were laid on behalf of the residents of Midlothian at the weekend centenary commemorations of Passchendaele.

Brian Harrison from Loanhead, was one of a limited number of people to apply for tickets for the event as a result of his family’s long history with the armed forces.

Mr Harrison, who served with the Scots Dragoon Guards, and his father Charlie, who also served in the forces, made the trip to Belgium together.

Prior to leaving Provost Adam Montgomery welcomed Mr Harrison to the Midlothian Council offices to present him with two wreaths to be laid at the commemorations of the Third Battle of Ypres.

Mr Harrison, whose great-grandfather fought at Passchendaele, laid one wreath at the Menin gate, where the traditional Last Post ceremony is conducted, to honour more than 100 men from Midlothian listed, and the next day at Tyne Cot Cemetery itself where over 70 men from Midlothian are buried among the 12,000 graves.

The commemorations, attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, also included a series of live performances, open to thousands in Ypres’ rebuilt market square, telling the story of the battle. Images and film were projected onto the town’s famous Cloth Hall.

Before setting off Mr Harrison said: “I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to attend this prestigious event. With a long family history in the forces, stretching back to Passchendaele itself, it felt right to take this once in a lifetime opportunity to go and honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I will be proud to lay these wreaths on behalf of the people of Midlothian.”

Provost Adam Montgomery, in his role as Veterans Champion and on behalf of the council, added: “I am delighted to present Mr Harrison with two wreaths to lay on behalf of the council to honour the fallen from Midlothian.

“I have visited the Menin gate myself and it really is a sight to behold. When you see the names of the soldiers who lost their lives, many just 14 or 15 years old, and entire families just wiped out, it really brings it all home. It is my pleasure to do my part in keeping the memory of those who sacrificed so much alive.”