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Kitchener Memorial, Marwick Head, Orkney

We were motoring more or less up the west coast of mainland Orkney after visiting Skara Brae and Skaill House (of which more later) when I saw an imposing tower on a hill top overlooking the sea. Then I spotted a brown (site of interest) signpost saying “Kitchener Memorial” pointing off the road towards it. I immediately turned onto the one-track road indicated.

Kitchener made his name at the Battle of Omdurman – machine guns against spears; not an equal contest – during the punitive expedition against the Mahdi after his followers (Dad’s Army‘s “fuzzy-wuzzies”) killed General Gordon at Khartoum. He later took over the conduct of the South African War (the Second Boer War) instituting the measures that made sure the Boers could not live off the land, by taking their supporters/suppliers into the original concentration camps, before becoming head of the army and featuring on the famous Great War recruiting poster.

I knew Kitchener had been drowned at sea when the ship carrying him on a mission to Russia, HMS Hampshire, hit a mine recently laid by a German submarine but hadn’t realised it had been so close to Orkney. I also hadn’t known the memorial was there so this was a serendipitous discovery.

We managed to squeeze into a space at the very small car park and contemplated the long walk up to the memorial. I discovered later that the memorial lies on Marwick Head, the westernmost point of mainland Orkney. This Vickers pattern 31b Recoil Mk 2 gun salvaged from the deck of HMS Hampshire lay at the beginning of the path:-

Deck Gun from HMS Hampshire

Memorial from path at top of cliff:-

Kitchener Memorial, Orkney From Path

Memorial close:-

Kitchener Memorial

Kitchener Memorial Plaque:-

Kitchener Memorial Inscription

Much more recently a memorial wall to those who died on HMS Hampshire has been erected on the site. This shows its proximity to the Kitchener Memorial:-

HMS Hampshire Memorial Wall

Unfortunately the memorialised names do not stand out well in this photo:-

HMS Hampshire Memorial Wall

The HMS Hampshire memorial wall also commemorates the HM Drifter Laurel Crown lost off Marwick Head in June 1916:-

HMS Hampshire + HMS Laurel Crown Memorial

Macrae Memorial, Eilean Donan Castle

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The above poem “In Flanders Fields” was composed by Lt Col John McCrae (who served in the Canadian army in the Second Boer War and again in the Great War as a medic) at Essex Farm Advanced Dressing Station.

A Memorial to all the Macraes who died in World War 1 is located on the outside wall of Eilean Donan Castle, Lochalsh, Scotland:-

Macrae Memorial Eilean Donan Castle

Macrae Memorial, Eilean Donan Castle

Names on Macrae Memorial, Eilean Donan Castle, in various spellings of Macrae. These also appear on a (sc)Roll of Honour inside the castle:-

Names on Macrae Memorial, Eilean Donan Castle

Plaque in memory of Lt Col John McCrae on outside wall of Eilean Donan Castle, Lochalsh, by the Macrae Memorial:-

John Macrae Memorial, Eilean Donan Castle

Boer War Memorial, Bury St Edmunds

From Thetford we travelled on to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
Almost the first thing I spotted was an elaborate Memorial which on closer inspection turned out to be for the (Second) Boer War, or South African War as it’s sometimes known:-

Bury St Edmunds Boer War Memorial

Bury St Edmunds Boer War Memorial Dedication

I was only in Bury an hour or so and didn’t manage to find a memorial to the World Wars of the last century. I found this picture on the net thouhgh.

The Australians in Nine Wars by Peter Firkins

From Waikato to Long Tan, Pan, 1973, 524 p, including i p acknowledgements, ii p list of illustrations, i p list of maps, vi p index of military formations, xv p general index, vi p bibliography.

The Australians in Nine Wars cover

The book covers Australian soldiers’ exploits from a time when Australia wasn’t even Australia but only a collection of various separate colonies. Some of these first sent men overseas to New Zealand to assist against the Maoris, then to Sudan in the aftermath of Gordon’s death in Khartoum and to China during the Boxer Rebellion. Its military prowess came to flower in South Africa in the (Second) Boer War – during whose duration Australia as a country was constituted – where, being used to the bush, they were able to play the Boers at their own game blending in to the countryside and showed for the first time their flair for unconventional warfare. The other wars covered are of course the two World Wars, the Korean War, the “Malaysian Emergency” and Vietnam.

The book’s thrust is that the Australian fighting man is unique, forming a citizen army there to do a job and get back to normal life as soon as possible, consisting of individuals full of initiative. In it we discover that it was Australians who won in Palestine and on the Western Front in the First World War, were essential in holding Tobruk, won at El Alamein, were the first to defeat the Japanese on land in World War 2 (which General Slim wrote was an inspiration to those in Burma) and even won in Vietnam! British Generals were crap (due to the class system) and prejudiced to boot. Moreover they apparently systematically underappreciated and failed to give credit to Australian contributions and leadership due to the “Union of British Generals”. Douglas MacArthur comes in for equal criticism for being insufficiently grateful for and appreciative of their efforts.

There is considerable force to this argument when you consider General Hunter Weston’s reply to a comment at Gallipoli that a third attack on Achi Baba peak was sure to cause heavy losses. “Casualties? What do I care for casualties?” he demanded, but Firkins’s strictures do no justice to the difficulties of prevailing in an age when defence had the advantage over attack and no-one involved had sufficient experience of the problems to be overcome. He asserts that the tank was at first “used so unskilfully that the one weapon which could have ended trench warfare was frittered away as an infantry support or wasted in its unsupported success at Cambrai.” Maybe so, but where were experienced tank generals to be found? Conjured out of thin air, perhaps? This point is ironically underlined later in the book when one of Firkins’s heroes of WW2, General Morshead, is quoted as saying of his early experiences in that war, “I didn’t handle my tanks well. I should have kept them concentrated and them all together. I didn’t know enough about tanks then as I do now.” Australian generals it would seem are to be cut slack not afforded to others.

In WW1 all Australians were volunteers, most of whom saw action in the frontline. Support services were provided by the British army as a whole as was the greater part of their weapons, ammunition and supplies. In the next paragraph Firkins says their “contribution to the successes of the British army was quite disproportionate to the numbers involved” and they, along with the New Zealanders and Canadians, did not receive due credit for their deeds till late in the war. Notwithstanding their valour and the very real downplaying of their role, how much could they have achieved without support, weapons, supplies and ammunition? But they were used as the spearhead of every attack after Gallipoli. The Australian casualty rate was 68½%; double that of the British Empire’s troops as a whole. They did however develop the tactic of peaceful penetration which dispensed with the usual preliminary heavy artillery bombardment.
Australians were “accustomed to judging their officers by their personal qualities and not by their badges of rank” and gained a reputation for indiscipline among British officers, an attitude which Firkins says was a main factor in their contributions being undervalued.

The book covers the heavy Australian involvement in the all but forgotten campaign against the Vichy French in Syria in WW2 – where more men were lost than in Greece and Crete combined.

Elsewhere the author pours scorn on “Churchill’s overriding concern for British Imperial interests, to the detriment of an Australia fighting for her life,” saying it “cast a grave reflection on his judgements.” It’s an odd injunction. Churchill wasn’t Australian; he was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. It was his responsibility to preserve British Imperial interests. Ultimately of course he failed in that, but the roots of that failure did not lie with him, they originated in the Great War, and perhaps in the tides of history. And has Australia’s subsequent cleaving to the US served it any better?

Firkins includes an illuminating aside uttered by a US liaison officer in Korea of the Australians’ former foes now allies, “When the Turks ran out of bullets they unsheathed their knives. They are as tough as their reputation. They obeyed only one order: Advance. Any other order confuses them,” and he sees the war in Vietnam as a necessary one against an enemy which perpetrated “vile cruelties and civilian slaughter” but he does predict (the book was first published in 1972) the final North Vietnamese victory when the US and its Allies‎ withdrew. He quotes approvingly Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies’s subscription to the domino theory. An additional forty-five years perhaps yields a different perspective.

Pedant’s corner:- Bridges’ (Bridges’s,) Gavril Princep (usually Gavrilo Princip,) Saint Stephens’ (Saint Stephens’s,) Colonel Holmes’ detachment (Holmes’s,) “until there were no infantry remaining to carry on” (Firkins has previously treated infantry as a singular noun, which it is; so, until no infantry was left,) Gheluvet (Gheluvelt, this was on a map,) Smuts’ (Smuts’s,) von Sanders’ (von Sanders’s,) Cairo headquarters were laying plans, (headquarters is usually treated as a singulsr noun,) the Australians forward positions (Australians’,) Larisa (Larissa,) Churchill’s staff were not enthused (staff was?) twleve (twelve,) Churchillean (usually Churchillian,) Mohne and Ede dams (Eder,) “it was estimated … about 5,000 Japanese had landed… In fact it was considerably less” (fewer,) Clowes’ (Clowes’s,) Potts’ (Potts’s,) of an enemy who were swarming past (was,) Japanese force with numbered more than (which numbered,) had showed (shown,) no more that a form flitting through foliage (than a form,) Mindano (Mindanao; on a map,) the rest were (was,) this area included……. and covers … (keep the tense the same.)

War Memorials at Stirling Castle

As at Edinburgh Castle there are War Memorials on the esplanade of Stirling Castle.

Again there is one to the Indian Mutiny, this one dedicated to the men of the 75th Stirlingshire Regiment who died at Seringapatam, Delhi and in the Relief of Lucknow.

Indian Mutiny Memorial, Stirling Castle Esplanade

The other side of the memorial names the officers (1 colonel, 2 captains, 6 lieutenants and 1 surgeon) but only gives the total numbers of other ranks (13 sergeants, 9 corporals, 3 drummers and 216 privates) – all of the 75th Stirlingshire Regiment – who died in the mutiny, 1857-8.

Indian Mutiny Memorial, Stirling Castle Esplanade

Again too there is a Memorial to the South African War (Second Boer War) dedicated to the men of the 1st Battalion (Princess Louise’s) Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Boer War Memorial, Stirling Castle Esplanade

The plaque here gives the names of the officers and non-commissioned officers who died:-

Boer War Memorial, Stirling Castle Esplanade

The plaques on these two sides give the names of the privates:-

Boer War Memorial, Stirling Castle Esplanade

Staring out towards the scene of his great victory at Bannockburn is a statue of Robert Bruce.

Statue of Bruce, Stirling Castle EsplanadeStirling Castle 6 Bruce

Another Memorial to the Scottish Horse

Further to my post about the War Memorials on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade one of which was for the men of the Scottish horse the last time I was in Dunkeld I noticed this memorial on one of the walls in the town square:-

Memorial to Scottish Horse, Dunkeld

Again it commemorates the South African War (Second Boer War.)

Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

As well as the Ensign Ewart Memorial there are four other memorials to British (make that Scottish) regimental involvements in various wars. Three of them can be seen on the right and one on the left in this view of the castle from the esplanade.

Edinburgh Castle From Esplanade

The first was erected in 1861 to the memory of the 256 men from all ranks of the 78th Highlanders (78th Regiment of Foot) who died during the Indian Mutiny. Pity about the traffic cone in the foreground!

78th Highlanders Memorial Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

The second was erected in memory of the men of the Scottish Horse who died in the South African War (the Second Boer War.)

Memorial to Scottish Horse, Edinburgh Castle

The thinnest one is to the memory to the men of the 72nd Highlanders who died in the Afghan War 1878-80. That was the Second Anglo-Afghan War. (Despite “Never Invade Afghanistan” being Harold MacMillan’s first rule of politics there have now been no fewer than four Anglo-Afghan Wars.)

72nd Highlanders Memorial, Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

The Memorial on the south wall of the castle Esplanade is to the Gordon Highlanders who died in the Second Boer War, the South African War, 1899-1902.

Gordon Highlanders Memorial, Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

This detail shows a fine stag’s head.

Gordon Highlanders Memorial Detail

The entrance to the castle itself is flanked by statues to Scotland’s two great warrior heroes, Bruce and Wallace,and surmounted by the Royal Emblem (the Lion Rampant) and motto, Nemo Me Impune Lacessit.

Edinburgh Castle Entrance

Boer War Memorial, Alloa

This is situated by the A 907 across the road from West End Park.

Here is a close-up of the inscription:-

This is the reverse view:-

The central plaque lists the names of the dead, 5 killed in action, 3 of wounds, 3 of disease:-

Dunbar Boer War Memorial

This is situated on Queen’s Road and is dedicated to members of the Lothians and Berwick Yeomanry who fell in the South African War 1900-1.

This is the wording on the cartouche:-

You’ll note it ends, “Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori” – words made savagely ironic by Wilfred Owen as the result of a later war.

The reverse of the memorial commemorates the Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry who fell in the two World Wars:-

Two Worcester War Memorials

There are memorials to three wars just by Worcester Cathedral, on the town side.

The first I came to was the one for the South African War (the Second Boer War.)

Boer War Memorial, Worcester

Just a bit further on there is a memorial to both World Wars. This has no names on it. I assumed there is another memorial elsewhere in Worcester that does that. (A quick internet search suggests not, however, but there are numerous memorials in various churches etc.)

War Memorial outside Worcester Cathedral

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