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A monument for the Scottish?


BatterySergeantMajor

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Being confrontated with the burial of Pte THOMSON, 2nd Gordon Highlanders, in Polygon Wood Cemetery (see my other post) I realized that, to my knowledge, there is not one monument which commemorates the efforts of the Scottish regiments in the Salient (apart from a tiny one for the Liverpool Scottish). Remarkably, because they have been involved on many occasions and in large numbers (in the 9th, 15th and 51st Divisions, but also in other units) in bitter fighting.

So last week I started dreaming, and I told about my dream to Franky Bostyn, the always active conservator of the new Zonnebeke museum. As usual, Franky was very enthousiast and encouraging, which helped me with the decision to talk with others of what might be be a wild plan. Here it is:

I would like to see a classic stone Celtic Cross, about 2 meters in height, with the inscription "Scotland" or "Alba" raised somewhere in Zonnebeke (Frezenberg for example). If possible there should be added a text in Flemish/Dutch, English and Gaelic to explain in brief why the monument is there.

Probably this will be a costly affair. So I think to set up a sponsoring campaign and approach Scottish Government and large Scottish companies , and also Zonnebeke communal council (there will be some ground needed). The monument should be as maintenance-free as possible to ensure that it will be still there long after we have gone. It would be very appropriate if it was made out of a Scottish stone and eventually engraved with celtic knotwork.

If this would be to expensive,maybe a cairn would be an alternative, although I think it wouldn't last that long and won't be such an eye-caster.

I think the project may need a few years to become reality, and it would be very practical to have Scottish people being involved in it (for example in providing usefull adresses,...).

Well, nothing had been decided yet.Maybe this comes to nothing, but it would be interesting to hear some reactions . These may help me in deciding whether to go on or not.

Erwin

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Being confrontated with the burial of Pte THOMSON, 2nd Gordon Highlanders, in Polygon Wood Cemetery (see my other post) I realized that, to my knowledge, there is not one monument which commemorates the efforts of the Scottish regiments in the Salient (apart from a tiny one for the Liverpool Scottish). Remarkably, because they have been involved on many occasions and in large numbers (in the 9th, 15th and 51st Divisions, but also in other units) in bitter fighting.

So last week I started dreaming, and I told about my dream to Franky Bostyn, the always active conservator of the new Zonnebeke museum. As usual, Franky was very enthousiast and encouraging, which helped me with the decision to talk with others of what might be be a wild plan. Here it is:

I would like to see a classic stone Celtic Cross, about 2 meters in height, with the inscription "Scotland" or "Alba" raised somewhere in Zonnebeke (Frezenberg for example). If possible there should be added a text in Flemish/Dutch, English and Gaelic to explain in brief why the monument is there.

Probably this will be a costly affair. So I think to set up a sponsoring campaign and approach Scottish Government and large Scottish companies , and also Zonnebeke communal council (there will be some ground needed). The monument should be as maintenance-free as possible to ensure that it will be still there long after we have gone. It would be very appropriate if it was made out of a Scottish stone and eventually engraved with celtic knotwork.

If this would be to expensive,maybe a cairn would be an alternative, although I think it wouldn't last that long and won't be such an eye-caster.

I think the project may need a few years to become reality, and it would be very practical to have Scottish people being involved in it (for example in providing usefull adresses,...).

Well, nothing had been decided yet.Maybe this comes to nothing, but it would be interesting to hear some reactions . These may help me in deciding whether to go on or not.

Erwin

Hi Erwin

Messines Mesen have a monument for the Scottish no ?

Regard

JM

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Being confrontated with the burial of Pte THOMSON, 2nd Gordon Highlanders, in Polygon Wood Cemetery (see my other post) I realized that, to my knowledge, there is not one monument which commemorates the efforts of the Scottish regiments in the Salient  (apart from a tiny one for the Liverpool Scottish). Remarkably, because they have been involved on many occasions and in large numbers (in the 9th, 15th and 51st Divisions, but also in other units) in bitter fighting.

So last week I started dreaming, and I told about my dream to Franky Bostyn, the always active conservator of the new Zonnebeke museum. As usual, Franky was very enthousiast and encouraging, which helped me with the decision to talk with others of what might be be a wild plan. Here it is:

I would like to see a classic stone Celtic Cross, about 2 meters in height, with the inscription "Scotland" or "Alba"  raised somewhere in Zonnebeke (Frezenberg for example). If possible there should be added a text in Flemish/Dutch, English and Gaelic to explain in brief why the monument is there.

Probably this will be a costly affair. So I think to set up a sponsoring campaign and approach Scottish Government and large Scottish companies , and also Zonnebeke communal council (there will be some ground needed). The monument should be as maintenance-free as possible to ensure that it will be still there  long after we have gone. It would be very appropriate if it was made out of a Scottish stone and eventually engraved with celtic knotwork.

If this would be to expensive,maybe a cairn would be an alternative, although I think it wouldn't last that long and won't be such an eye-caster.

I think the project may need a few years to become reality, and it would be very practical to have Scottish people being involved in it (for example in providing usefull adresses,...).

Well, nothing had been decided yet.Maybe this comes to nothing, but it would be interesting to hear some reactions . These may help me in deciding whether to go on or not.

Erwin

Hi Erwin

Messines Mesen have a monument for the Scottish no ?

Regard

JM

Yep!!! Strike sure, the London scottish!

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nice dream Erwin. You know I will support it. But i think it is impossible.

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I understand your deep pride in your countrymen and your distinct culture of which they were a part but feel the combination suggested is best best kept seperate in this context. A simple cairn would say more than all the symbols of nationalism.

Rupert,

BSM is Belgian not Scottish.

BSM,

Most Scottish Monuments are on the Somme or Champagne. It is a commendable idea but I do see difficulties in achieving it.

Something like CRUACHAN seems to be your idea.

Aye

Malcolm

post-19-1098638020.jpg

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It depends what is being commemorated. From your text it would appear that your aims differ in context to almost all memorials on the western front in that it could be seen both as nationalistic and would seperate the Scots involvement whilst being part of the British Army. Most Divisions , of which the Scots formed a significant part are commorated at some part of the WF pertinant to the action of the Division. I believe that another memorial especially one which may be seen as quasi political is unecessary. The troops fought as one and should be remembered as one body, be it regiument, brigade, division etc but within the British Army as a whole . I understand your deep pride in your countrymen and your distinct culture of which they were a part but feel the combination suggested is best best kept seperate in this context. A simple cairn would say more than all the symbols of nationalism.

What is to be commemorated is simple and clear: the involvement of all the Scottish units in the Salient. Again: there is no such monument in the salient (ashamed I have to admit I forgot the monument for the London Scottish in Messines). Nationalism? I think maybe some people are over-sensitive to eventually political connotations.

1) Scottish identity is a) not new and B) acknowledged in the UK in the recognition of a Scottish parliament. Be sure it is not my intention to ask the SNP or other political parties for sponsorship. I am quite aware it is not a good thing to get mingled in actual politics in relationship with the commemoration of the Great War.

2)Does a monument for the Scottish in general differ in context from the South-African memorial in Delville Wood, the Canadian monument in Vimy or St Juliaan, the Australian monument in Villers-Brettoneux, the Irish monument in Messines (although it is a pity they didn't mention the Anglo-Irish units), the New Zealand monuments, all countries who were part of the British Empire and in no way independent in those days.

3)I was not aware that a more than thousand year old symbol as the Celtic Cross is seen as a symbol of nationalism, even if it bears the text "Scotland". I see these crosses everywhere in the UK, with the name of the local community on it, and this very often as a memorial for the war.

4)I am very honoured someone thinks I am a Scot (does this mean that my English is not that bad as I thought ?), but to set things clear I am Flemish. But yes, even then I am proud on my culture.

Anyway, I am glad with this reaction. It is good to be warned not to get involved in politics, even if this was not my intention. If we eventually would go on we will take double care.

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Erwin

Such a memorial would be a worthy recognition of the men of Scots regiments who served in the Salient. There are are already commemorative items in St George's church in Ypres ( Ieper) in their memory.

The most appropriate tribute would be a Celtic cross of Aberdeenshire granite. Such crosses were commonly used in the form of parish war memorials throughout Scotland following the end of the Great War.

Below is an example from my own parish of Kennethmont, Aberdeenshire.

post-352-1208379861.jpg

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Those Celtic crosses are beautiful and stately - and they are not political in the slightest. I think this is a wonderful idea. And if other groups can have monuments, why not the Scots?

marina

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Have to disagree.

I share the sentiment as my Uncle served in the 51st Highland Division in the Salient losing his life the following year in the March retirement.

There are, as has been said earlier Memorials to the Scots in the Battlefields.

I could argue that a Memorial should be set up where my Uncle lost his life but my feelings are that the Men who served in the Salient wanted no special recognition for their colleagues sacrifice shortly after the event.

It must be remembered also that Memorials already exist in the Salent i.e. the Headstones.

Sorry to be a damp squib.

George

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Have to disagree.

I share the sentiment as my Uncle served in the 51st Highland Division in the Salient losing his life the following year in the March retirement.

There are, as has been said earlier Memorials to the Scots in the Battlefields.

I could argue that a Memorial should be set up where my Uncle lost his life but my feelings are that the Men who served in the Salient wanted no special recognition for their colleagues sacrifice shortly after the event.

It must be remembered also that Memorials already exist in the Salent i.e. the Headstones.

Sorry to be a damp squib.

George

I do not see the point. :(

Yes, there are other memorials in the Battlefields. But no, there is not one in the Salient which comemorates the majority of the Scottish units.

Did the men wanted no special recognition? Why were they putting up then memorials everywhere along the former frontlines?

Talking about the 51st HD: didn't they raise this beautiful monument in Beaumont- Hamel? Should their efforts and sacrifices in the Salient be lesser valued? Same applies for other divisions and battalions outside Scottish divisions.

Headstones are wonderful individual memorials. But war was also the story of "bands of brothers", and collective monuments are paying tribute to that aspect. An individual memorial/headstone does not exclude a tribute to and recognition of a group.

And wasn't it the cornerstone of the recruiting in British Army to do appeal on the regional identity of the individual? Should that be forgotten once the people couldn't be used anymore?

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Does a monument for the Scottish in general differ in context from the South-African memorial in Delville Wood, the Canadian monument in Vimy or St Juliaan, the Australian monument in Villers-Brettoneux, the Irish monument in Messines (although it is a pity they didn't mention the Anglo-Irish units), the New Zealand monuments, all countries who were part of the British Empire and in no way independent in those days.

G'day BSM

Good luck with your project.

My only personal reservation is with your "in no way independent"; apparently some of those forces wore the Empire, or even British title, but were fiercely independent. Aye?

Besides the National Monument each Australian Division, & certain units such as Tunnellers have their own Monuments. These were, however, organised by the survivors themselves, but do set a precedent for 'your dream'.

ooRoo

Pat

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Those Celtic crosses are beautiful and stately - and they are not political in the slightest.  I think this is a wonderful idea.  And if other groups can have monuments, why not the Scots?

Totally agree,

A campaign to raise funds would surely help enhance public awareness. I think public interest in the Great War has been rekindled, certainly in the UK, thanks at least in part to the popularity of Family History and I think its a great idea.

Don't see where the political angle comes in either, Scots are Scots at the end of the day and thats all there is to it.

Atholl

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Have to disagree.

I share the sentiment as my Uncle served in the 51st Highland Division in the Salient losing his life the following year in the March retirement.

There are, as has been said earlier Memorials to the Scots in the Battlefields.

I could argue that a Memorial should be set up where my Uncle lost his life but my feelings are that the Men who served in the Salient wanted no special recognition for their colleagues sacrifice shortly after the event.

It must be remembered also that Memorials already exist in the Salent i.e. the Headstones.

Sorry to be a damp squib.

George

I do not see the point. :(

Yes, there are other memorials in the Battlefields. But no, there is not one in the Salient which comemorates the majority of the Scottish units.

Did the men wanted no special recognition? Why were they putting up then memorials everywhere along the former frontlines?

Talking about the 51st HD: didn't they raise this beautiful monument in Beaumont- Hamel? Should their efforts and sacrifices in the Salient be lesser valued? Same applies for other divisions and battalions outside Scottish divisions.

Headstones are wonderful individual memorials. But war was also the story of "bands of brothers", and collective monuments are paying tribute to that aspect. An individual memorial/headstone does not exclude a tribute to and recognition of a group.

And wasn't it the cornerstone of the recruiting in British Army to do appeal on the regional identity of the individual? Should that be forgotten once the people couldn't be used anymore?

BSM,

My Uncle was in the 8th Royal Scots(Pioneers to the 51st H.D.) and the Battalion was in the Salient constantly between 18 June 1917 and 25 September 1917 suffering 28 killed and 130 wounded.On this point alone I could support a Memorial.I appreciate this is a realtively low casualty figure.

My concern is why single out the Scots?All Commonwealth Troops who served on the Salient are surely entitled to the same National recognition e.g Welsh Dragon,Canadian Maple Leaf.I appreciate some of these "Nations" already have Memorials but I am sure many don't.

Also why single out the Salient?I appreciate my Uncle lost his life on the Somme but not at Beaumont-Hamel(he was there, by the way, in 1916).Is the sacrifice the Division made trying to stop the German advance in 1918 no less worthy of recognising than their efforts on the Salient the year before?

My point is where does one stop with these Memorials?I am sure justification could be made to erect Memorials in every Battlefield where Commonwealth Troops fought.

It seems though that after the War the Scots who fought were content to have their service recognised on the Somme but not in Ypres why should me now disagree with their judgement?

Please don't think that I am trying to ridicule your very genuine suggestion but I don't think the Scots should be singled out for special praise.

George(who was born and raised in Scotland)

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Erwin

I am with you on this. Go for it. It is a great idea.

Sunflower ;)

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BSM,

    My Uncle was in the 8th Royal Scots(Pioneers to the 51st H.D.) and the Battalion was in the Salient constantly between 18 June 1917 and 25 September 1917 suffering 28 killed and 130 wounded.On this point alone I could support a Memorial.I appreciate this is a realtively low casualty figure.

    My concern is why single out the Scots?All Commonwealth Troops who served on the Salient are surely entitled to the same National recognition e.g Welsh Dragon,Canadian Maple Leaf.I appreciate some of these "Nations" already have Memorials but I am sure many don't.

    Also why single out the Salient?I appreciate my Uncle lost his life on the Somme but not at Beaumont-Hamel(he was there, by the way, in 1916).Is the sacrifice the Division made trying to stop the German advance in 1918 no less worthy of recognising than their efforts on the Salient the year before?

  My point is where does one stop with these Memorials?I am sure justification could be made to erect Memorials in every Battlefield where Commonwealth Troops fought.

  It seems though that after the War the Scots who fought were content to have their service recognised on the Somme but not in Ypres why should me now disagree with their judgement?

  Please don't think that I am trying to ridicule your very genuine suggestion but I don't think the Scots should be singled out for special praise.

George(who was born and raised in Scotland)

George

Why single out the Scots? I think I explained this already earlier. The same question applies to every group from the Empire. Yet I never learned about monuments for other British Empire countries being questioned. Would there be a problem with the popularity of the Scots? (joke)

There is (regrettably) no Welsh Dragon in the Salient, but there are Canadian Maple Leafs, so this is already a reason why the thistle should be there too. I regret also that many groups haven't their participation acknowledged (many "colonial" troops for example). But I will be already very happy if I can bring this to a good end. If someone else wants to look for the Welshmen, the Maori's, the Senegalese,... he has my full moral support. But one effort will be far enough for my humble person at the moment.

Why single out the salient? First, I'm living in the Salient. Working towards a monument in Gallipoli would be a bit impractical for me. Second, the other main British area Somme/Arras has already a few important Scottish monuments (51st, 9th,...), which may give the false impression that the Scottish were almost absent in the Salient. I think at the contrary that their role here was at least as important as in the Somme. So I will inverse your question whilst parafrasing it: is the sacrifice that the Scots made trying to break German lines in Flanders less worthy of recognising than their efforts in the Somme the year before?

Where does it stop? It doesn't seem to stop, and I wonder why this monument (which is even not sure to be realised) shouldn't have it's reason to be erected in that part of the frontline which was so important for the British army on a moment that so many others are erected unquestioned .

I do not know if the Scots were content not to have an important reminder in the Salient. It is an hypothetic question. I am as convinced that they weren't as you that they were. No way to check this after all these years. But I would wonder if they would oppose to the fact that we want to pay our respect to them. In fact this is since long overdue.

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Erwin,

As you appreciate I have no concerns with your "Dream" so fully support your quest.

I agree with the "Thistle" or "Celitic Cross" because I come from the non-kilted branch of the Scots.I'm not complaining about the Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel!

Just a thought for you though.

In January 1919 the 8th Royal Scots were billeted in Bracquegnies,14 kilos east of Mons(I appreciate this is not in the Salient) and according to the History of the Battalion.

"The Inhabitents renamed their principal street "Rue des Ecossais" as a compliment to the Battalion".

Does the Street Name still exist and are there similar recognitions in the Ypres area?

I'm not suggesting that you start a campaign to have Street Names changed if you consider this an option as a Memorial.I am sure like most places you are undergoing housing expansion(I won't start the argument about building on the Battlefields).The Local Authorities may be willing to have a new Housing Estate with Street names such as Scots Street,Welsh Street,etc(should that be Stratte?) with the Thistle , Dragon,etc engraved on the Sign.

Over to you Sir!

George

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First an answer to Kinnethmont: regrettably Aberdeenshire granite seems to be no longer available. I contacted Fyfe Glenrock and they told me the only Scottish granites available were Corrennie Pink and Creetown Grey. You see I do not restrict my survey to this Forum only!

To Dycer: your answer sounded much more supporting (happy whit that :) ), and I think it is great idea. One project should not exclude the other, and I will sure talk with the people of Zonnebeke . There are not that many building projects with new streets in that area, but once it is on the list...

I don't know the village near Mons, but if I come across I'll look for it.

Erwin

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A Celtic Cross is a very popular choice for war memorials but the thing a cairn has about it is it can be made up from stone from all over Scotland.

If you are talking about a nationwide memorial rather than one specific to an area, Division, or Regiment a stone could be collected from every parish or even community for example.

It would also mean you could start collecting for your monument immediately. Any Scot wishing to contribute and visiting the salient could stick a boulder in their suitcase before leaving for Rosyth and drop it off in your back garden.

If you get enough you could build something like the 9th Divsion Memorial near Arras, I don't know what cairns you've seen BSM but that one looks like it will be there in a thousand years.

Perhaps a letter to all the Scottish national and local newspapers might generate some response. It is Armistice Day soon so there might be a bit of interest. You wouldn't even have to write them all a letter since every self-respecting newspaper will have a web-site these days.

On the subject of the 51st Div memorial at Beaumont Hamel there is another 51st Memorial in Hamel - the flagpole in the village. The large memorial is also is a memorial for the 51st Div in the second world war, but there is another one in St Valery, and another memorial in Oban to the 51st. I'm sure there is one in Perth as well and a new one in Normandy unveiled during the summer. There are probably others I don't know about. Just because there are already memorials doesn't mean there can't be another one if there is the support for it.

Good luck BSM

Adam

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First an answer to Kinnethmont: regrettably Aberdeenshire granite seems to be no longer available. I contacted Fyfe Glenrock and they told me the only Scottish granites available were Corrennie Pink and Creetown Grey. You see I do not restrict my survey to this Forum only!

To Dycer: your answer sounded much more supporting (happy whit that :) ), and I think it is great idea. One project should not exclude the other, and I will sure talk with the people of Zonnebeke . There are not that many building projects with new streets in that area, but once it is on the list...

I don't know the village near Mons, but if I come across I'll look for it.

Erwin

Erwin,

My final off-topic word on the subject.

I sympathise with your problem on Aberdeen Granite.

Growing up in the 50/60's in the City I remember the Rubislaw Quarry working but the last time I flew over it is was full of water.

Dyce(where I lived,a village at the time just outside the City) had a quarry but it had long been exhausted.It was great for sailing on, on tractor tyres,mad fools that we were!

George

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A Celtic Cross is a very popular choice for war memorials but the thing a cairn has about it is it can be made up from stone from all over Scotland.

If you are talking about a nationwide memorial rather than one specific to an area, Division, or Regiment a stone could be collected from every parish or even community for example.

It would also mean you could start collecting for your monument immediately. Any Scot wishing to contribute and visiting the salient could stick a boulder in their suitcase before leaving for Rosyth and drop it off in your back garden.

If you get enough you could build something like the 9th Divsion Memorial near Arras, I don't know what cairns you've seen BSM but that one looks like it will be there in a thousand years.

Perhaps a letter to all the Scottish national and local newspapers might generate some response. It is Armistice Day soon so there might be a bit of interest. You wouldn't even have to write them all a letter since every self-respecting newspaper will have a web-site these days.

There has been done a lot of useful brainstorming on this thread. The idea about collecting stones from Scotland and bring them over would create a strong link between the country where these people came from and the country where they met their ultimate fate. It would also be a link in the commemoration between Scotland and Flanders. A pity we are too close to the 11th of November to start with it, but it is an idea which we will use surely.

If not not for the main monument itself ( I still go for the Celtic Cross), which should be given a central location, then probably to erect three smaller cairns on the real historically correct place of every division (maybe later extended to other units outside the Divisions?).

Very happy :) to feel that there is support for the whole idea. Although I will be very careful in proceeding with the plan, you all have convinced me that is worthwile to have a chat with the Zonnebeke council (Passchendaele is part of the large community of Zonnebeke).

If there are any other ideas, suggestions or useful tips, let them come.

Erwin

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Erwin , George & Co

I too visited Rubislaw quarry in Aberdeen as a boy. I remember walking over the edge on a wooden platform in order to look down into the quarry and seeing the men working far down of the quarry floor. Was it the deepest quary in Europe in it's day ?

As to Aberdeenshire granite, Corrennie is quarried near Alford and grey granite is quarried at Kemnay, both in Aberdeenshire.

Fyfe Memorials ( part of the Fyfe group ) advise they offer both for headstones on their website. I assume the can supply both for larger projects. A site link is below for you interest.

The memorial at Perth of a young Dutch girl giving a bouquet of flowers to a WW2 highland soldier is to 51st Highland Division.

www.fyfe-memorials.co.uk

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Erwin , George & Co

Fyffe Memorials ( part of the Fyfe group ) advise they offer both for headstones on their website. I assume the can supply both for larger projects. A site link is below for you interest.

The memorial at Perth of a young girl giving a flower to a highland soldier is to 51st Highland Division.

www.fyfe-memorials.co.uk

I did contact Fyfe Glenrock earlier, and assume it is the same company as Fyfe memorials? They seem to have a strong reputation?

Curious to the 51th HD monument, but I couldn't find that with the link I got (only smaller gravestones on the pic's). Would there be a photo somewhere on the net?

I think the grey granite would be the best choice, as most of the monuments in Scotland are in probably in the same material?

Erwin

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The Welsh Dragon at Mametz Wood was erected by public subscription in the late 1980's so it can be done if the will is there. That said Mametz Wood was the blackest day of the war for the 38th (Welsh) Division - the wood was captured but at a cost of over 4000 casualties so it later acted as a focus for remembrance.

I'd say 'good luck', if you can pull it off, great if not, well there is no harm in trying to have a visible monument to the memory of the valiant Scottish warriors...

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Erwin , George & Co

I too visited Rubislaw quarry in Aberdeen as a boy. I remember walking over the edge on a wooden platform in order to look down into the quarry and seeing the men working far down of the quarry floor. Was it the deepest quary in Europe in it's day ?

As to Aberdeenshire granite, Corrennie is quarried near Alford and grey granite is quarried at Kemnay, both in Aberdeenshire.

Fyfe Memorials ( part of the Fyfe group ) advise they offer both for headstones on their website. I assume the can supply both for larger projects. A site link is below for you interest.

The memorial at Perth of a young girl giving a flower to a highland soldier is to 51st Highland Division.

www.fyfe-memorials.co.uk

Jas,

I remember the same story about Rubislaw being the deepest Quarry but I've never seen it confirmed.

Like you though,looking down the men seem liked ants!

That's why I sttil have nightmares about using Dyce Quarry as a boating lake.We never did know how deep it was.

There was a story that the RAF used Dyce Quarry to dump stores at the end of WW2.Must admit at the time it was very satisfying to drop lumps of granite from our home made rafts into the water and see the odd patch of oil? rise to the surface.Now I appreciate it was not Environmentally Correct but even worse having never been a strong swimmer(what's a life-belt?)I count my blessings that I am still here!I do console myself by saying it was a character-building series of adventures!

George

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