Centenary of Battle of Amiens to be marked with cathedral service

George Ramsay of of Queens Park Football Club, back row second from right, gave up his football career to join his teammates on the Western Front.
George Ramsay of of Queens Park Football Club, back row second from right, gave up his football career to join his teammates on the Western Front.
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Descendants of those killed in the Battle of Amiens will gather for a service at Amiens Cathedral in northern France today to mark the centenary of the decisive battle which marked the beginning of the end of the First World War.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister Theresa May and the Duke of Cambridge will be joined by dignitaries and families from around the world including the UK, France, Canada, the US and Australia to honour those killed in the battle and the decisive Allied “hundred days offensive”.

Due to the high numbers of German troops who surrendered on the first day, General Erich Ludendorff called it The Black Day of the German army.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Battle of Amiens was a significant turning point in the war and I’m honoured to be attending the commemoration service to honour those who fought in the conflict.

“The First World War touched the lives of millions and continues to resonate today. Commemorations such as this serve as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the appalling loss of life involved, as we look to ensure such suffering is never repeated.”

Among those killed on the first day was fighter pilot George Ramsay, 25, from Queen’s Park football club in Glasgow, on a low bombing mission with the RAF.

Ramsay gave up a promising football career to join his team mates at the Western Front.

The 11 members the squad – Scotland’s oldest club and only fully amateur side in the Scottish Professional Football League – were among 227 Queen’s Park players and members who volunteered.

Ramsay was among 34 men from the club - players, ex-players and members known to have lost their lives.

Inside forward Ramsay made his debut against St Mirren aged 18 in 1911 and earned 49 caps for the club, scoring nine goals, before also playing for Rangers, Ayr United and Partick Thistle.

Jim Hastie, a former player and a member of the club’s committee, said: “George was unique among those men who died as he served in the Royal Air Force as a Flight Lieutenant. But they all bravely put themselves into danger for what they believed in. They all showed great courage in standing together.

“Of the 227 men who volunteered over 50 of them were in the Highland Light Infantry ‘Glasgow Pals’ Battalion.

“There was an element of camaraderie and team spirit. In many ways it was used as a government propaganda tool.

“On the anniversary of George’s death, it’s important to remember what these men did and to pass that on to the younger generation of players.”

Dan Snow, historian , said the Allies use of modern warfare was crucial.

“Amiens might not be the most famous battle of the First World War, but it might be the most important. In the summer of 1918 at Amiens British, French, Commonwealth and American troops decisively defeated the German Army by using a combination of new tactics and weapons that finally broke the stalemate of the trenches.

“This was the beginning of the end of the First World War and it the beginning of modern warfare.

“It is one of the most remarkable battles in British history, on the centenary we have a unique chance to commemorate it and place it where it belongs, at the heart of our national story.”