Recently I have been travelling quite frequently up and down the A1 from Edinburgh to Dunbar, mainly to visit Eric Brown.
I had always wondered what the prominent hill with the flag on it just off the road a few miles east of Edinburgh was. A few weeks ago detouring into Prestonpans on the return I found out. Coincidentally I was reading Violet Jacobs’s Flemington at the time.
On the B 1361 into Prestonpans there was a sign pointing to the Battlefield of Prestonpans, 1745, the first battle of the Jacobite Rebellion of that year. I had previously thought the battlefield would lie somewhat closer to the Firth.
The prominent hill is the battlefield viewpoint, a converted coal bing, seen here from its foot.
The flag flying at the summit is Bonnie Prince Charlie’s battle standard.
There is a cairn at the side of the B 1361 erected in memory of the dead of the battle:-
According to the information boards on the Battlefield Viewpoint this is the site of the 1745 battle:-
This is the approximate Jacobite position at the battle’s start. It has a golf range on it now.
The battle itself was over in about fifteen minutes. Most of the relatively inexperienced Hanoverian force fled at the first charge of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highlanders. This left the more hardened government troops sandwiched between the rebel wings. After suffering heavy casualties they gave way. Their commander Sir John Cope led some stragglers down a lane which to this day is named Johnnie Cope’s Road, but couldn’t get them to fight and left the field.
The song Hey Johnnie Cope Are Ye Wakin’ Yet? was written – by Adam Skirving, a namesake of the good lady – to commemorate the Jacobite victory.
This version, by the Corries, is preceded by an account of the first singing of the fourth verse of the UK National Anthem – the one which is no longer officially recognised.
A simple Celtic cross but with a crucifix in the cross’s centre. The memorial is set on Marine Drive overlooking the harbour approaches. I believe it has been moved back from the cliff edges due to erosion.
This close up shows the inscription and some names from both wars.
The cross’s centre on the reverse view has a monogram. The names on the pedestal on this side are all for the Great War.
This is perhaps the most impressive War Memorials I have ever seen. Set off the High Street through an archway into the pathway to the entrance to the Town Hall this is a distinctive memorial; a domed alcove, with pillars.
The commemorated are not just those from Peebles but from the wider County of Peeblesshire. The plaques either side of the alcove are for WW2. This is for the villages and towns of Peeblesshire.
The plaque to the left is for Peebles and Manor.
A smaller plaque on the upper left commemorates a death in Afghanistan.
The names of the WW1 dead from the villages of Newlands, Skirling, Stobo, Traquair, Tweedsmuir, Walkerburn and West Linton are on the right hand panel inside the alcove.
On the left hand panel inside the alcove the WW1 fallen from Broughton, Drumelzier, Eddleston, Innerleithen, Kirkurd, Lyne & Meggat and Manor are listed.
These villages/towns may have their own War Memorials, some of which I have photographed:
Just beyond the churchyard gates at Crail there was a sign saying Commonwealth War Graves are located here. You have to go to the other side of the church to find them.
Most of the dates are for 1941. There was a torpedo attack training base at Crail airfield during World War 2. I presume these graves are for people who died in the course of training or were injured/killed on a sortie and buried on their return.
First there are three which stand on their own.
Private D Mason, Home Guard
Sergeant A H Cunningham, RAF
Pilot Officer W R Constable
Note the first of these was a member of the Home Guard and aged only 19.
Further into the cemetery there is a larger plot of 22 graves:-
Most of the names here are of Australians or New Zealanders but one of the 22 graves is more unusual in that it is of a woman; a Wren named Sheila R McCormack.
The inscription reads, “In loving memory of my dear wife. Tread softly: my darling sleeps here.”
Very few women’s names appear on War Memorials. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a woman’s war grave before.