Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has backed an Evening News campaign to save a threatened trench complex – on the eve of a weekend of Remembrance events.
Ms Davidson believes it would be “tragic” if poignant combat training trenches discovered at Dreghorn Woods, Colinton, were left to rot.
The News is currently campaigning for the fascinating slice of history – used to train Tommies before they were despatched to the Front during World War One – to be preserved for future generations.
Ms Davidson said: “It would not only be a tragedy, but a real display of ambivalence towards our Great War generations if these trenches were allowed to be overgrown and forgotten.”
The drive to save the network of trenches was launched by Lynne Gladstone-Millar, whose father, William Ewart Gladstone-Millar, was based there.
But the crumbling trenches are at risk of disappearing as they become over-run by shrubbery and the climate.
The Evening News has backed the £10,000 campaign to save them and see them preserved for future generations.
Ms Davidson said: “I am right behind the Edinburgh Evening News campaign to save these trenches.
“Having visited Ypres with all the horrors that evokes, it is arresting to see the place where Scots trained for the Great War here in Edinburgh.”
The Conservative leader has given the campaign her full backing ahead of a weekend of Remembrance for the regions’ war dead.
Ms Davidson added: “It really brings it home that these were our grandfathers and great grandfathers, and they prepared for the trenches at this very spot, and of course one in five of them never came home.
“That’s why it is so important that the very few remaining physical reminders of the First World War are not only retained, but given the care and attention they deserve.
“With a bit of work, this could be something really moving that current and future generations could learn from.”
Last month we revealed guides at Mercat Tours want to lead parties of schoolchildren around the site. We also told how Andrew Robertshaw, a military historian who was an adviser on Steven Spielberg’s War Horse, has lent his support to the cause. Peter Gray, chairman of the Colinton Amenity Association, which is also supporting the campaign, said: “Having Ruth Davidson come on board can only be a good thing. The community is delighted.”
Representatives from Historic Scotland, the MoD and Edinburgh City Council have met to discuss preserving the complex. A survey of the site – which lies on publicly accessible land – could now follow.