Gallipoli Day: 12 July 2017
History repeats itself 102 years on
The most poignant and reflective of events in the Callants’ Club’s yearly calendar” is how the president, Dave Chapman, described Wednesday night’s ceremonies at the 1514 Memorial and war memorial in Wilton Lodge Park honouring the Hawick soldiers of the 1/4th (Borders) Battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers who lost their life in the attack on the Turkish lines in Gallipoli on July 12, 1915.
In this and the following months of the ill-fated campaign, some 132 men from the Hawick area were killed with many more wounded – a disastrous loss of life from such a small part of the country.
On July 12, 1916, the Callants’ Club marked the first anniversary of what could be described as Hawick’s blackest period of its military history. It was not until 1930 that the ceremony again took place but since then the club has paid its tribute to their bravery every year since on July 12.
Almost 40 past-presidents, council members and representatives from the KOSB, British Legion and Ex-Servicemen’s Club gathered at the 1514 Memorial where the president, flanked by Provost Watson McAteer and Callants’ Club council member Sandy Laing, laid the wreath on behalf of the club, followed by the latter reciting the well-known lines from Lawrence Binyon’s seven-verse poem, For the Fallen, written in mid-September 1914, a week after the outbreak of the First World War:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condem.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Moving to the war memorial in the park, president Chapman addressed the parade: “Can I extend a warm welcome and thank you for your attendance this evening at this, the most poignant and reflective of events in the Callants’ Club’s yearly calendar.
Once again we gather here to pay our respects and remember all the brave young men who were involved in the attack on Gallipoli. These brave young callants fought for our freedom and peace and in the end paid the ultimate sacrifice. On the 12th and 13th of July, 1915, and the following weeks Hawick lost 132 of her sons to this horrific battle, with countless more being badly wounded.
This ceremony of remembrance is not only unique to the Borders but possibly to the whole of Scotland and pays tribute to their bravery and selflessness and that is something that should never be forgotten and this ceremony must be carried on reminding future generations of the sacrifice and loss encountered in these dark days of war.
The Callants’ Club have, through this ceremony, made allies and gained the respect of other associations relating to the Gallipoli attack, those being the Gallipoli Association and Gallipoli and Dardanelles International.”
He said the club was deeply honoured to have been presented with wreaths from both associations to be laid in conjunction with their own, however, neither were able to send a representative.
He ended with the words: “At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”
Following the playing of Blue Bonnets over the Border by piper Cammy Renwick, of the Hawick Pipe Band, Mr Chapman laid a wreath on behalf of the Gallipoli Comrades’ Association, followed by Provost McAteer with the wreath from the Gallipoli and Dardanelles International and club vice-president Ken McCartney with the Gallipoli Association’s wreath.
In the evening sunshine the haunting Flowers of the Forest lament echoed throughout the park, as did the symbolic Last Post by Stephen Hewson, of the Saxhorn Band.
This was followed by the observance of a one-minute silence, broken by Reveille.
The moving ceremony ended with the parade marching past the museum to the playing of Scotland the Brave.
Alex Burgon, who served with the KOSB and whose father took part and survived the Gallipoli fighting, told The Hawick Paper: “This ceremony is never to be forgotten considering the number of local men who were killed”, and ex-Acting Father Tom Hartop added: “In the last five years more and more members are attending to pay their respects.”
Following the evening’s homage to the fallen, Provost McAteer told us: “The 12th of July has great significance in the town. It is a great credit to our town that the Callants’ Club have conducted these remembrance services annually to ensure these men are never forgotten.
It is a great pleasure as the provost to be involved for the first time in this event and especially this year when asked to follow the club president and lay one of the wreaths.