Friends of Falkirk War Memorial are putting right a historic wrong

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Falkirk and other firms are this month busily putting right what some feel is a conspicuous gap in the way we remember the hundreds of local servicemen who died in the world wars.

The famous war elegy promises “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”, but until now, unlike many other war memorials across the country, the names of those killed in the 1914-18 and 1939-45 conflicts have been absent from Falkirk’s memorial in Dollar Park.

The war memorial in Dollar Park, currently the scene of important remedial work commissioned by the Friends of Falkirk War Memorial.

The war memorial in Dollar Park, currently the scene of important remedial work commissioned by the Friends of Falkirk War Memorial.

Many of the names of individuals who died may be recorded elsewhere, for example in period editions of the Falkirk Herald (which was the public’s main and in some cases only source of news about local men killed, wounded, missing or captured).

But those names, and the stories behind them, are lost to modern public consciousness - there is no single location in full public view where each man’s death is recorded.

Yet the sacrifice in both world wars was drastic for a town the size of Falkirk, and while those individual tragedies happened 75 years or a century ago their impact had a lasting effect upon local families.

Children were brought up without fathers, or brothers. Wives became widows.

The work has meant some restricted access, but the end result will be worth the minor temporary inconvenience.

The work has meant some restricted access, but the end result will be worth the minor temporary inconvenience.

To the fatalities might be added the unnumbered hundreds who survived but with terrible injuries, whether physical or mental.

Now, in a remedial project led by the Friends of Falkirk War Memorial, important work is underway in Dollar Park to give those long dead fallen Bairns the permanent place in the town’s collective memory they deserve.

Last year’s centenary of the Armistice in the west for the Great War, and next year’s 75th anniversaries of VE Day and VJ Day, have provided fresh cause for many people to revisit the most terrible events of the 20th century.

The Friends was set up with the help of former Provost Pat Reid, who is enthused about the Dollar Park project and the local companies who are supporting it.

Former Provost Pat Reid.

Former Provost Pat Reid.

He said: “Work started on site last month and we hope to have a service of re-dedication towards the end of October, before Remembrance Day.

“The existing memorial was unveiled in 1926 to remember the 1100 local men who died in World War I.

“Sadly – unlike other local memorials – it doesn’t name the war dead, or the 450 others who died subsequently in World War II.

“We want to properly remember Falkirk’s Fallen – adding the names on additional panels – and making other improvements to the site.

“Currently access is only via the main pavement and steps leading up from Camelon Road. Our work will improve access for people for mobility issues paying their respects at the memorial.”

He added: “We’ve already had good support from individuals, local businesses and the council’s Common Good Fund.

“If you feel you can help, please make a donation through our website.

Douglas Cameron, managing director of the Hope Street based Eden Consultancy, says the effort has already been given a boost by support from the Common Good fund.

But as someone who, like Pat Reid, has a deep interest in Falkirk heritage, he hopes the project will create an opportunity to “reach out to the wider community”.

“Many local people may be related to the men who will at last be commemorated on the memorial”, he said.

The Friends of Falkirk War Memorial has commissioned an almost entirely local team to carry out the work in Dollar Park.

The main contractor is CAMS Construction Scotland, based at Redding Industrial Estate.

Also involved in the project are Quality Masonry Services of Dalderse Avenue, Falkirk, Falkirk Stonemasons of Bankside Industrial Estate, TBB Architecture, based in the town’s Cockburn Street, Sterling Precast, based in Stirling; and

The Helix Building Consultancy Ltd – the quantity surveyors - based in Lenzie.

These firms’ efforts will also make the site more accessible from the Park itself, improving access for people with disabilities.

You can find out more and contribute to this important Falkirk project at www.falkirkwarmemorial.org
The Friends have a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/falkirkwarmemorial and you can also contact The Friends by emailat falkirkwarmemorial@gmail.com or by calling 01324 628379.