Scotland Remembers Battle Of Arras

Services have been held in France and Scotland to mark the centenary of one of the bloodiest clashes of the First World War.

The Battle of Arras had the highest concentration of Scottish troops fighting in a single campaign, 18,000 of them died during three weeks of fighting.

Arras was fought from April 9 to May 16, 1917, and marked the beginning of the spring offensive on the Western Front.

To commemorate its centenary, a ceremony took place at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh 
Castle, followed by a Beating Retreat on the castle esplanade by the Royal Marines Scotland band.

Brigadier Gary Deakin, CO 51st Infantry Brigade, reflected on the scale of Scotland's loss:

"This was the biggest battle for the Scots. So the commemoration this evening and the service in Arras this morning are really significant to remember those who made that sacrifice. What’s been really good about this one is that we’ve had families of those who were at the battle. It’s a really good event and great to be commemorating in this way.” 

Among the descendants was Margery Mackay who's uncle, Private Donald Mackay, died on April 28, 1917, after being caught in an ambush.

Private Mackay had joined up in September 1914 and went 31 months without leave before he found himself on the front line in Arras. 

Margery became interested in the history after finding his last letter home, written just 17 days before his death, it thanked his family for a parcel: 

"He mentions the fact that his feet were very sore, and he couldn’t get his boots on, but other than that he didn’t complain about anything. He seemed to be more concerned about how his family were getting on.” 



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