Plans for Hawick memorial to German war dead given go-ahead

A cairn erected in 1917 at Stobs Camp, near Hawick.
A cairn erected in 1917 at Stobs Camp, near Hawick.

Approval has been granted to rebuild a memorial stone in a former cemetery dedicated to German prisoners of war.

The work is to be carried out at Stobs Camp, near Hawick, to mark the centenary of the armistice that ended the First World War.

The camp housed more than 4,000 prisoners of war, the majority of them German, during the 1914-to-1918 conflict, and plans have been drawn up to pay tribute to those who died during their time there.

Few escapes were reported, but there were two suicides during that period, and a cemetery was created at the camp in 1915, providing a resting place for the bodies of 35 soldiers, four sailors and six interned German civilians by the time the last POWs left at the end of 1919.

Their bodies were disinterred over 50 years ago, but the remnants of a memorial created by German prisoners to their dead comrades remain on the site.

Now, Scottish Borders Council has approved an application from landowner James Anderson, of Penchrise Farm Cottage at Stobs, and Archaeology Scotland to reinstate the free-standing cairn erected at the old cemetery site in 1917.

In a report on the bid to councillors explaining his decision to grant it using delegated powers, planner Stuart Herkes says: “This application proposes the reinstatement of a reproduction of a monument which historically occupied this memorial site within a former cemetery.

“Given the context, and historical precedence, the proposal raises no concerns in its principle or in its specific form.

“Notwithstanding that the proposal would make use of an existing plinth, I am aware of the potential for impacts upon trees, but given that the proposal would inhabit a pre-existing landscaped context which adheres to an established layout and arrangement, I anticipate that any impacts on tree roots would be unlikely to be significant.

“I am ultimately content that the reinstatement of this relatively modest monument reasonably outweighs any and all such damage as might be caused to surrounding trees.”