WREATHS were laid in Hawick this week to commemorate the loss of hundreds of Borders soldiers on the Gallipoli Penisula during the First World War.
Now known as Gallipoli Day, July 12, 1915, saw more than 300 officers and men of the 1/4th (Borders) Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers killed and more than 200 wounded in a single action against the entrenched Turkish forces.
The majority of the KOSB troops who perished that day, in what has long been considered one of the Allies’ biggest military disasters of the First World War, were from Hawick.
To mark the day and to pay tribute to Teries who lost their lives, two ceremonies take place on July 12 each year.
On Tuesday night, Hawick Callants Club president, Robert Charters, first laid a wreath at the 1514 Memorial. Then, 20 minutes later, past presidents and council members of the Callants Club gathered at the museum in Wilton Lodge Park.
A parade, including representatives from the Honorary Provost’s Council, KOSB Association, British Legion and the ex-service associations, was then led by a piper and bugler to the war memorial where Mr Charters laid a second wreath on behalf of the Gallipoli Comrades.
Mr Charters told The Southern the ceremonies had been well attended.
“The event went very well and there was quite a lot of people who turned out at both the horse and the war memorial for the wreath-laying.
“Alec Burgon recited Laurence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen, and it was a moving tribute to those men from the town who gave their lives at Gallipoli,” he said.
The Battle of Gallipoli, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, took place on the peninsula of Gallipoli, which in 1915 was still part of the Ottoman Empire – now Turkey.
The campaign ran from April 25, 1915 until January 9, 1916, and was a joint British and French operation mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia.
The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides.
The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) and more than 8,500 Australians and 2, 721 New Zealanders were among the Allies’ losses, together with 44,000 British and French soldiers.
By the time the campaign ended, more than 120,000 men had died, including more than 80,000 Turks.
Mr Charters says the Hawick ceremony is the only dedicated event to the fallen of Gallipoli he knows of in the Borders.
“The ceremony in Hawick has been going a long, long time,” he said. “It was started by the local branch of the Gallipoli Association, which back then was made up of ex-soldiers who had come through the campaign. As they got older or passed away, it was gradually taken on by the Callants Club.
“So many men from Hawick were among the KOSB soldiers who died that it had a huge impact on the town and it is only fitting and right that we remember their sacrifice.”