100th anniversary of Quintinshill rail crash to be marked

THE 100th anniversary of Britain’s worst rail disaster will be commemorated at a special service today.

Quintinshill Rail Disaster. Picture: TSPL
Quintinshill Rail Disaster. Picture: TSPL

The Princess Royal and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be at Gretna on the Scottish-English border for the event to mark the centenary of the Quintinshill rail crash.

At 6.50am on May 22 1915, a train packed with First World War troops travelling from Larbert, Stirlingshire, collided with a local passenger service.

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Straight afterwards, a Glasgow-bound express train smashed into the wreckage at the Quintinshill signal box, setting off a devastating fire which engulfed the troop train, packed with nearly 500 members of the Leith Battalion of the Royal Scots.

More than 200 soldiers and 12 civilians were killed and a further 246 people were injured.

The troops were on their way to Liverpool, where they were due to sail to the front line of the war in Gallipoli.

Many of the soldiers were buried in a mass grave in Rosebank Cemetery in Edinburgh, where a memorial carries the name of everyone who died.

Exactly 100 years on from the tragedy, the Princess Royal will attend the ecumenical service at Gretna and lay a wreath, with a second wreath being laid on behalf of the Royal Scots.

The programme of events in the area also includes a march to Quintinshill rail siding, the unveiling of a roll of honour at Gretna Old Parish Church, a commemorative tree planting at Gretna Green war memorial and the reading of a poem at Stormont village hall.

Dumfries and Galloway Council leader Ronnie Nicholson said: “As we commemorate the events in World War One, it’s important that we take time to respectfully mark the centenary of this momentous event, which took place in our region.

“Our council is working with local communities and a range of appropriate organisations to deliver a fitting tribute.”

Anne and Ms Sturgeon will go on to attend a service in Leith tomorrow.

Other events were held yesterday in Larbert and in Carlisle, where a number of people on the local train and express train lived, and which was also the base for the railwaymen involved.