First tree in memorial wood is for hero brothers

Currie Primary pupils Rosie and Karis help with the planting. Picture: Helen Pugh

Currie Primary pupils Rosie and Karis help with the planting. Picture: Helen Pugh

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A GRANDDAUGHTER’S memorial to two Edinburgh brothers killed on the same day will set down roots as part of a new woodland commemorating the First World War.

Mid Calder resident Margaret Murison planted the first tree in Scotland’s First World War Centenary Wood, located at Dreghorn Woods in the Pentland Hills, to commemorate the sacrifice paid by her grandfather, William Balmer, and his brother, John.

Both men died at the Battle of Ypres on April 11, 1917. The Stockbridge-born brothers had enlisted to the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, on the same day but were tragically killed at the bloody battle in Northern France aged 34 and 37 respectively.

Margaret, 79, said: “Since my mother died I’m the closest family member to them now, and I feel even closer because of this Woodland Trust project.

“Planting trees in memory of these fallen heroes is a wonderful idea.”

Her late mother, Mary, would have been “ever so pleased” at the memorial, as she could never afford to visit her father’s grave in Flanders, she added.

The grandmother-of-one said: “I’ve always wanted to go and see my grandfather’s grave, but there’s not a very high chance of doing that now. This is something positive I can do which gives his memory standing.

“It’s something that’s growing, something that’s living, something that’s fresh and lovely.”

Children from Currie Primary School joined Margaret, her son Stephen, 52, and her grandson Stephen, 28, to plant the oak tree yesterday.

The initiative – which is supported by Sainsbury’s and the Woodland Trust – will see 50,000 native trees planted at the MOD training estate in Dreghorn over the next two years.

This wood is one of four to be planted across the UK to create a living memorial of the conflict.

The living memorial sits near the historic Dreghorn Trenches, where soldiers from the Lothians were prepared for the horrors of trench warfare before being sent to the 
front.

Carol Evans, director of the Woodland Trust Scotland, said: “The Centenary Woods are a tribute to everyone who helped with the war effort.

“We’re immensely proud to be planting millions of trees with the support of our lead partner Sainsbury’s, as well as many individuals and organisations, to remember that sacrifice and to create new woods for people and wildlife to enjoy.”

Staff from the Sainsbury’s Longstone store attended the planting ceremony, as the supermarket is supporting the project through the sales of their Woodland free-range eggs, chicken and 
turkey.