Western Isles remember Arras fallen

Cpl Hunter (3rd left) with Legion Scotland Sweetheart Amy Hawthorn.
Cpl Hunter (3rd left) with Legion Scotland Sweetheart Amy Hawthorn.
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As part of the commemorations to mark the centenary of the Arras Offensive, three Islanders were part of the official commemoration services in France.

Second Lieutenant Alexander MacIver (48), Staff Sergeant Instructor Rebecca Nicolson (32) and Cadet Corporal Stephen Hunter (16) from 1st Battalion The Highlanders’ Ness Detachment spent three days in Arras, France visiting various memorials and taking part in services to mark the anniversary.

The Right Rev Dr Russell Barr (5th right) Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with the Cadets.

The Right Rev Dr Russell Barr (5th right) Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with the Cadets.

The Western Isles representatives were part of a group of sixteen cadets and adults – selected from various Scottish Army Cadet Force Battalions – to represent the Cadet Force at the commemoration service held at Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery in Arras, France.

The ACFA Scotland contingent joined descendants of troops who fought in the offensive and dignitaries.

During their visit to France the Western Isles team visited the Thiepval Memorial, the 36th (Ulster) Division memorial at Ulster Tower and crater created by the Lochnagar Mine detonated on the first day of the Somme – which at the time was the largest mine detonated and left a crater 30 metres deep and 100 metres wide.

At the service the cadets held wreaths that were presented to ambassadors and dignitaries for them to lay at the memorial.

2Lt MacIver, Cpl Hunter and SSI Nicolson at the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg dAmiens British Cemetery.

2Lt MacIver, Cpl Hunter and SSI Nicolson at the Arras Memorial in the Faubourg dAmiens British Cemetery.

2Lt MacIver who is the Detachment Commander of Ness Detachment said: “It was a great trip and a honour to be a small part of a big machine that organised for 12 cadets and 4 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers to represent Scotland at such an important event.”

The Arras Offensive was fought from 9 April to 16 May 1917 and by the end of the offensive there were almost 300,000 men from both sides wounded, missing or dead.

While Scottish battalions had more than played their part in the Loos the Somme offensives, Arras saw the greatest concentration of Scottish battalions in any of the set-piece battles of the war - with the 9th and 15th (Scottish) Divisions and the 51st (Highland) Division.

In total there 44 Scottish battalions committed to the battle. At the end of the offensive out of the 159,000 British and Commonwealth casualties, one-third were Scottish.