The History of Leith

April 3, 2005

The Gretna Disaster 1915

The Getna Disaster-The Funeral Procession passing at Pilrig 1915

The war (First World War) was brought into the very midst of the town on Sunday night, April 2, 1916, when it was bombed by enemy zeppelins. But no incident through out the whole war stirred the heart of Leith so deeply as the cruel fate that overtook its own battalion, the 7th Royal Scots, at Gretna on Saturday, May 22, 1915, while on its way to join the fighting line. In that terrible disaster 214 officers and men were killed, and only some sixty out of nearly 500 were able to answer the roll-call. The whole town was stricken with grief, and sore did she mourn her fallen sons. Their remembrance can never die. As often as the anniversary of the disaster comes round so often will Leith gather before the memorial erected to their memory to pay her tribute to the heroic dead.

“Towards crimson fields and trenches deep
They journeyed on,
Till Fate decreed that they should sleep
Much nearer home.
But though their couch be far removed
From scenes of strife,
Still to the laud they dearly loved
Each gave his life.
For in the will, not in the deed,
True courage lies;
And all had owned their country’s need— Great sacrifice
Eden Phillpotts
(The Gretna disaster was the largest train smash in railway history)

The Gretna Memorial Rosebank Cemetery

Source-The Story of Leith-John Russell 1922


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