Melrose service to honour a VC hero of Battle of Loos

Reverend Philip Blackledge of Holy Trinity Church in Melrose standing beside a plaque in the church dedicated to Angus Falconar Douglas - Hamilton VC.
Reverend Philip Blackledge of Holy Trinity Church in Melrose standing beside a plaque in the church dedicated to Angus Falconar Douglas - Hamilton VC.
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Its name is a battle honour proudly carried on the colours of every Scottish regiment – and saw no less than 17 Victoria Crosses awarded.

The Battle of Loos in France started in September, 1915, and was the largest British conflict that took place that year on the Western Front.

Of the 21,000 British troops killed, more than 7,000 were soldiers from almost every town and village in Scotland.

A total of 17 VCs were earned by British troops, with probably the most famous Scottish award being that to Piper Daniel Laidlaw, of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.

But it is a fellow Borders VC winner, Lieutenant Colonel Angus Falconar Douglas-Hamilton, who will be remembered in a special service in Melrose next month.

He was commanding officer of the 6th Battalion, Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, which suffered 357 casualties at Loos, including nearly all its officers.

A plaque in Holy Trinity Church in Melrose commemorates the memory of Lt Col. Douglas-Hamilton, who won his VC for operations at the western end of Chalet Wood near Hill 70 on September 26, 1915.

And 100 years to the day since his death, a second memorial in the form of an engraved paving stone honouring Lt Col. Douglas-Hamilton, who lived in Melrose, will be unveiled in the town.

Father Phillip Blackledge, Rector of Holy Trinity, told us: “We’re expecting the event on September 26 to be quite a big thing.

“Brigadier Nick Ridley is the grandson of the late General Sir Philip Christison and will read his grandfather’s account of the Battle of Loos at the service to unveil the plaque.”

General Christison, another soldier commemorated at Holy Trinity Church, was a junior officer under Lt Col. Douglas-Hamilton, winning the Military Cross for his own bravery at Loos.

Other 100th anniversary specially-engraved paving stones will also be installed at other locations and dates in memory of Piper Laidlaw and also for the Borders’ only other VC winner from the First World War, Acting Sergeant John Daykins, of Hawick, who won his VC at Solesmes in France in 1918 while serving with the York & Lancaster Regiment.