Kelso’s Gallipoli tribute

KOSB at Gallipoli
KOSB at Gallipoli

The grandson of a local soldier killed at Gallipoli a century ago will be joined by the Kelso Laddie to lay wreaths at a special anniversary on Sunday.

Among the raft of anniversaries following last year’s 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, none will be so poignantly remembered in the Borders as that of July 12, 1915.

For it was on this day, now referred to as ‘Gallipoli Day’, that more than 300 officers and men of the 1/4th battalions of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were killed and over 200 wounded in a single action against the entrenched Turkish forces.

Not since Flodden had so many Borderers perished in battle in a single day’s combat.

Among the dead were 42 men from Kelso, and this Sunday on the 100th anniversary of the battle, a special event will take place in the town at the start of its annual Civic Week proceedings.

A project spear-headed by Kelso provost, John Bassett, has raised funds that will see a new tablet erected at the town’s war memorial bearing the names of all the local men killed in the brutal fighting on the Gallipoli peninsula.

And at some point during the next week, a bronze plaque in remembrance of all the dead will also be affixed to the side of the building which houses Hume’s outfitters.

This area of the town has long been known by locals as ‘The Dardanelles’ after The Dardanelles Strait, a narrow channel of water between the Black Sea and Mediterranean.

It was the failure of naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign of the First World War, carried out by the Royal Navy with support from the French, Russia and Australia, to overcome Ottoman defences, that resulted in an invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula by allied ground forces. Prior to Sunday’s unveiling ceremony at the war memorial, a parade will form up at 5.45pm in The Square, before stepping off at 6pm for the war memorial and will include troops from the Royal Scots Borderers and members of The Gallipoli Association.

The new memorial will then be unveiled by Kelso Laddie Fraser Hastie and James Sanderson, whose grandfather was one of those who died.

Provost Bassett explained: “Wreaths will be laid by Mr Sanderson, the Kelso Laddie, Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal British Legion Scotland. At the end, all the Ex-Laddies will then place a small wooden cross with the name of each person killed and I will place the last one, in front of the new memorial.” Provost Bassett added that, while the number of Kelso men killed was small compared to those from Hawick and Galashiels who lost their lives, for a small town the size of Kelso, the loss was still devastating for the local community.