A SIX-HOUR vigil for the one million Commonwealth soldiers who died during the First World War is to be held tomorrow by a left-wing think-tank as an alternative to the official commemoration events.
Members of the Jimmy Reid Foundation, who believe the catastrophic loss of life in the 1914-18 war was down to a “failure of statesmanship”, will hoist a banner saying: “1,118,750 Commonwealth lives wasted”.
The vigil is to be held just a days before the special service at Glasgow Cathedral on Monday to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war.
The UK government has invited Commonwealth heads of state to remain in Glasgow after the Games for the service, which will kick-start a series of commemorative events.
The Glasgow service will represent the focal point of UK and Commonwealth activities to mark the centenary.
Yesterday the foundation, established in memory of the Scottish trade unionist Jimmy Reid, said the remembrance should not be seen as celebratory.
Both the UK and Scottish Governments have promised their events will be a fitting tribute to those who laid down their lives.
Speaking ahead of the vigil, the chair of the foundation’s alternative commemoration committee, Isobel Lindsay, said: “On 4 August, Glasgow Cathedral will host Commonwealth leaders in commemorating the start of a disastrous war that laid the grounds for the Second World War and many of the current problems in the Middle East.
“The deaths in combat from the present countries in the Commonwealth were 1,118,750 and many more had their lives ruined by serious injury. This was a failure of statesmanship that sacrificed young lives, not for ‘the war to end wars’ but for a brutal struggle that wasted massive resources and created further violence and instability.
“Any celebratory element in the commemorations would be deplorable.”
The vigil, between 10am and 4pm tomorrow, will also mark the fact that Scotland had the highest battlefield casualty rate of any country in the war except Serbia and Turkey.
The centrepiece of the Scottish Government’s events will be a Drumhead service on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade on 10 August.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The commemorations being organised by the Scottish Commemorative Panel are to be commemorative and not celebratory.
“Throughout the centenary period the Scottish Government will be supporting events which encourage people across Scotland to remember the enormous loss of life and recognise the significant impact the First World War had on our nation.”