Borders musicians were called on to play their part in national commemorations marking the sacrifices made by the thousands of Scots killed during the First World War’s Battle of Arras 100 years ago.
Members of Jedburgh Royal British Legion Pipe Band and Hawick Scout Pipe Band took to Edinburgh Castle’s esplanade on Sunday evening in memory of the 18,000 Scots killed during the battle.
The bands, as well as standard bearers from both towns, performed a traditional beating retreat alongside the HM Royal Marines Scotland Band at the event, organised by the legion and WW100 Scotland.
Drum major Mike Lindsay, of Melrose, helped lead the bands throughout the retreat, and he said: “I was very proud to be part of the Borders contingent to help commemorate the fallen from 100 years ago at the Battle of Arras, where Scottish soldiers, and in particular the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, suffered heavy losses.
“A day of rehearsals paid off, with pipe bands from the Borders and the Lothians representing the legion and being joined by RAF and Royal Marines bands to put on a terrific evening performance on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade.”
The performance was watched by dignitaries, military personnel and veterans who had earlier taken part in a service at the National War Memorial in the castle.
The esplanade was also open to members of the public, and the whole event was streamed live through the Legion Scotland Facebook page to more than 4,500 people.
Jedburgh band pipe major Tosh MacDonald said it was a proud moment for the band and him as he had acted as lead pipe major for the massed bands.
He added: “It was a great honour bestowed on me to be lead pipe major of the beat retreat.
“The Jedburgh Royal British Legion Pipe Band was privileged to have taken part and to have been able to pay their respects to those involved in the Great War.”
Earlier in the day similar commemorations were held in Greenock, and in France the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, Russell Barr, conducted a service at Faubourg d’Amiens Cemetery in Arras which also saw the Royal Regiment of Scotland’s band conduct a beating retreat.
Dignitaries joined schoolchildren from across Scotland for the service in Arras, including Selkirk High School pupils Andy Brown and Joe Bell, selected to represent the Borders.
The battle – from April 9 to May 16, 1917 – had the highest concentration of Scottish troops fighting in any engagement during the war. Of the 129 battalions that took part, 44 were Scottish.
The Allies suffered 159,000 casualties, including 46,000 Scots, during the offensive.