Thousands of people from across the country will gather in Crieff tomorrow ahead of a parade and service to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele – a conflict which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers, including many Scots.
The national event, supported by Armed Forces charity Legion Scotland, begins at 10:30am with a parade of more than 150 veterans along with serving soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Also taking part in the parade will be a group of cyclists, representing the Black Watch (3 SCOTS), who will arrive in the town tomorrow having cycled more than 600 miles to Passchendaele. The cyclists intend carrying their bikes in tribute to their fallen comrades. There will then be a service led by the Legion Scotland national padre. Several wreaths are to be laid, and among those taking part in the ceremony is Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin KCB CBE, president of Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland.
The Black Watch regiment has strong connections with Perthshire and its soldiers were involved in the Battle of Passchendaele, which is one of the many reasons why Crieff has such strong connections to the conflict.
Passchendaele is a small village in the western part of Flanders, but a century ago it was the scene of the biggest battle ever fought on Flemish soil.
There was a massive Scottish presence in the battle, which was Sir Douglas Haig’s attempt to break through Flanders, with more than 50 battalions from Scotland fighting, joined by their expat comrades in Scottish battalions from Canada, South Africa and England.
Alastair McClymont, chairman of Crieff Remembers, a fortnight of events being held in the town, said: “We are delighted to have Legion Scotland’s significant input to the launch of our Crieff Remembers programme.”
Mr McClymont added: “A lot of hard work has gone in to making this happen and hopefully members of the public will find the military parade through the town and the Drumhead Service in Market Park enjoyable as well as a moving experience, and then enjoy the family day being presented by Legion Scotland.”
The BBC is broadcasting a series of live programmes from Passchendaele tomorrow and Monday, presented and anchored by Kirsty Young from a BBC studio near Ypres.
Claire Popplewell, BBC Events editor, said: “One hundred years on the name Passchendaele remains synonymous with the inhuman conditons and ferocity of one of the First World War’s most horrific battles.”