A thousand free places will be made available from today for those who wish to attend Scotland’s national commemoration marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War next month.
Signalling the start of the five-year Scottish Commemorations Programme, a Drumhead Service will be held at Edinburgh Castle on August 10 before a congregation of almost 9,000 people from all parts of Scotland.
The multi-faith service on the castle esplanade will replicate those held on the front line 100 years ago when, in a long-held military tradition, neatly piled drums with draped Colours were used in place of an altar.
Thousands of seats have already been allocated by Scotland’s 32 local authorities to people in all parts of Scotland. Representatives of the armed services, veterans groups, charities and civic leaders across Scotland have also been invited.
From 9am today (Tuesday) the Scottish Commemorations Panel will make a thousand places available to those who have not already secured tickets through their local authority or been invited by other means.
The August 10 event will mark the start of the Scottish Commemorations Programme which will remember eight particular events from World War One that had a significant impact on Scotland. They include the start and end of the war, major battles including Gallipoli, Loos, Jutland and Arras and domestic incidents such as the Quintinshill rail disaster and the loss of HMY Iolaire.
Following the ticket-only Drumhead Service, military bands and guards from the three services will parade down the Royal Mile. The congregation will be invited to follow in a procession to Holyrood Park, where they will find a replica Commonwealth War Graves cemetery. Those gathered in the park will have the opportunity to leave poppies and other markers.
The day’s events have been designed to give a sense of what it might have been like to enlist during the first few weeks and months of the war. The Drumhead Service represents the moment before deployment; the procession, a ‘March as to War’ and the gathering in Holyrood Park, the approach to the front and assembly for military action. The memorial of over 100 headstones will provide a vital sense of scale and a focus for acts of individual and collective commemoration.
Those who wish to attend the event but don’t have a ticket for the Drumhead Service are encouraged to line the Royal Mile and attend the memorial at Holyrood Park. The Drumhead Service will also be broadcast on a large screen at the base of Arthur’s Seat.
The Drumhead Service, procession and memorial will follow events happening in Glasgow as part of the UK Commemorations Programme on August 4 - the 100th anniversary of the date Britain entered the war. A Commonwealth-themed service at Glasgow Cathedral and a commemoration at the Cenotaph will be held in the city on that date.
Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop said: “The Drumhead Service, procession and memorial event on August 10 will be the first in a series of commemorative events between now and 2019 through which we will encourage people of all ages across Scotland to recognise the significant and broad impact the First World War had on our nation, and to reflect on its lasting social and civic legacy.
“This will be an opportunity for those from all parts of Scotland to come together to remember more than 100,000 Scots who lost their lives during the First World War, those who were left injured or disabled by the terrible conflict, and the families and communities in every city, town and village who were forced to come to terms with the terrible consequences.”
Chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, Norman Drummond, said: “The Scottish Commemorative Programme has three main aims: education, genealogy and legacy. We want to invite the whole of Scotland – people of all ages and in all corners of the country – to join us in remembering those who served during the First World War, to consider the significant impact the war had on Scotland and Scots around the world and to ask the question ‘What do we learn from all this?’
“Thanks to the support of local authorities, every part of Scotland will be represented at the Drumhead Service in addition to those from the military, veterans communities, charities and civic Scotland.
“By making a thousand places available to the general public we can be certain that as many people as possible, from all parts of Scotland, have an opportunity to come and commemorate this important anniversary, upon which we and our children and our grandchildren may in years to come reflect that ‘we were there and we remembered’.”
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are organising the Drumhead Service, procession and memorial event at the request of Scottish Ministers.
Brigadier David Allfrey, Producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “A Drumhead Service is a hugely fitting start to the Scottish Commemorations Programme. It provides a proper focus for us all in our reflections on the First World War: its context, its realities, its impact and its relevance both today and into the future. On the eve of battle, each and every combatant and those that support them, tend to find time for reflection, each in their own way. In the same way, we hope the Drumhead Service, procession and memorial might help stimulate a rich conversation that, using the War as its frame, can cover a broad ground - a look forward as well as a reflection on things past.
“The day’s events have been designed to give a sense of what it must have been like to enlist for the First World War, to leave familiar surroundings of town and country, to join up with others in the austere surroundings of the barracks, to wear uniform and be expected to act and live as a group - to stylised words of command - to march, learn skill at arms, face the uncertainty of travel overseas and the brutality of war.
“Scotland’s local authorities have secured the attendance of thousands of people from across the country but we recognise there will be many more who haven’t been allocated a place and would like to join us at the Drumhead Service to reflect on the part played by their forebears, to pay tribute to the many whose lives were lost and to contemplate what we might learn for the future.
“That is why we’re making 1000 free places available from today.”
The Drumhead Service will start at 10.30 on August 10 and will last approximately half an hour. Doors open at 9.00 and the congregation should be seated by 10.00. The whole event – including the procession down the Royal Mile and memorial at Holyrood Park - is expected to last until 14.00, although the public can remain in the park until 18.00 when the memorial will be closed.
Tickets for the Drumhead Service can be requested online from 09.00 on Tuesday July 22 at www.WW100Scotland.com. Those requiring wheelchair access or with other accessibility requirements should ring 0131 225 1188. Tickets will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis and up to ten can be requested by each applicant. All applications must be received by 4 August 2014.