Edinburgh Castle is to host a re-enactment of a frontline military service, commencing a five-year commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
The centrepiece event in the capital in August next year, announced by First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday, will see the recreation of a Drumhead service from the Great War, in which soldiers in the trenches piled drums draped with flags in place of a religious altar.
The First Minister announced the key dates to be officially commemorated as he addressed the Royal British Legion Scotland annual conference in Perth.
The Scottish programme, stretching up to 2019, will bring together significant events from the outbreak of war to Armistice Day and beyond.
These will include marking the centenary of major military battles such as Jutland and Gallipoli and the tragic sinking of HMS Iolaire when more than 200 soldiers drowned just outside Stornoway as they returned from the front three months after peace was declared.
The battles at Loos and Arras are also to be remembered. Both have particular resonance for Scotland given the involvement of those who fought for Scottish battalions and the high casualty rate they suffered.
Mr Salmond said communities across Scotland will gather together and remember the “exceptional sacrifice made by their sons” during the brutal conflicts of the war.
“The Great War commemorations are in no sense a celebration of the centenary of this devastating conflict,” he said.
“They are a commemoration, which will give the whole of the country the opportunity to reflect on the impact that the First World War had on Scotland.”
He added: “By reflecting on these devastating events, and the consequences they had for communities the length and breadth of Scotland, we will help people of all ages in this country understand more about the futility of war and strengthen our resolve to never let a tragedy like the Great War happen again.”
The five-year programme was compiled by the specially created Scottish Commemorations Panel, headed by former army chaplain Norman Drummond. It includes professionals from the military and veterans’ communities, community leaders, clergy, media, historians and education specialists.
Rev Drummond said: “The dates recommended by the Scottish Commemorations Panel reflect the impact that the First World War had on Scotland.
“As well as aligning with the UK commemorative programme, these dates enable Scotland to remember the specific and significant contributions made by our servicemen and women and our local communities in very challenging times throughout the First World War and beyond.”
Robert Allan, Royal British Legion Scotland national chairman, added: “Remembrance is at the heart of what we do and we believe it’s vital to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.”