THE story of McCrae’s Battalion, the 16th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Scots raised from volunteers from Hearts and other football clubs in 1914, is given the musical treatment at the Church Hill Theatre next week, when the MGA Academy of Performing Arts present the song-cycle Farewell My Son.
Set between 1914 and 1916, Farewell My Son unfolds against the backdrop of World War I.
From Edinburgh to the Somme, the students of MGA Academy will bring the story of football, love and war to life. This is an especially poignant project for producer and co-director, Andrew Gowland who is also a reserve with the RAF regiment.
Gowland explains, “As a serving member of the UK Military with the Royal Air Force Regiment Reserves, this project was a complete gift to me. It represents a chance to honour the memory of all those who have been affected by the horrors of armed conflict whilst inspiring and challenging the students.” He adds, “Nothing speaks more clearly of the local suffering and sorrow of the WWI than the pals’ regiments who fought and fell together on the battlefield.
“A startling anniversary of this occurs here on November 26, the exact centenary of the recruitment of the regiment. I’m privileged to be involved in this production.”
The plot follows the fortunes of Sir George McCrae who inspired the lads to sign up for battle. An ardent Hearts fan, McCrae was incensed by the attack on footballers for being exempt from military action. To prove everyone wrong, McCrae raised his battalion at Tynecastle where several Hearts players signed up on the spot. Officially, they were named 16th Royal Scots but became fondly known as The Hearts Battalion and McCrae’s Own.
Steve Potter, who wrote the score and original lyrics says, “It’s great to see McCrae’s Battalion being inducted into the SFA Hall of Fame. Along with the naming of McCrae’s Place outside the Usher Hall earlier this year, the Battalion is at last receiving the official recognition they so richly deserve”.
Farewell My Son, Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road, next Wednesday-Friday, 7.30pm, £15, 0131-466 9392