One of the Capital’s biggest remembrance services was disrupted by “distressing” scenes as a man repeatedly shouted “bring back Hitler” during the two-minute silence in Princes Street Gardens.
Around 700 people were gathered to respect the silence in the Capital’s Field of Remembrance beside the Scott Monument when the man aged in his 50s entered the crowd and started loudly shouting support for the Nazi leader.
The man, who was bizarrely wearing a backpack embroidered with a poppy, marched purposefully through the crowd, as his shouts prompted several calls to “shut up”, before leaving at a quick walking pace towards The Mound.
Police are trying to trace the man, who showed no signs of being drunk or under the influence of drugs, following a complaint from a member of the public.
Officers on duty at The Mound did not hear the man’s shouts, the force said.
The man’s outburst came after the laying of the wreaths in the Gardens and was branded “appalling” by Poppyscotland.
One ex-serviceman condemned the interruption as “terrible” and urged anyone who may be able to help identify the man to contact police.
Witnesses said the man came along the upper footpath from the direction of Waverley Station and shouted several times before he was told to “shut up” by angry members of the crowd.
One woman said: “Everyone was paying their respects and quietly focusing on their own thoughts. It was shocking, to be honest.”
A police spokeswoman said they were looking to trace a man described as white and in his 50s, wearing purple Doc Marten boots and a large backpack with an embroidered poppy on the back.
Witnesses said he had a beard and it was not clear whether he had specially timed the incident or acted on the spur of the moment as he passed by.
One onlooker, who asked not to be named, said: “We were in the crowd, gathered round the memorial during the two-minute silence when a man came along on the upper footpath and through the crowd.
“He was coming from Waverley towards The Mound. Everyone was silent when he shouted out several times ‘Bring back Hitler, bring back Hitler’.
“It was a bit of a stunner. Everyone looked at each other and no-one knew what to do. At one point someone shouted out ‘shut up’, but the man was moving quite quickly and purposefully.
“There were several hundred people there, as well as a large guard of honour and a piper. It was a very comprehensive service. No-one challenged the man – more’s the pity – and he seemed to just walk away.”
Fundraising legend and war veteran Tom Gilzean, who has raised more than £100,000 for charities in the Capital, was at the event and said he hoped the man was tracked down.
He added: “It’s terrible. The silence should never be disturbed. I hope the police get him.”
Poppyscotland urged anyone with information regarding the man’s identity to contact the police.
A spokeswoman said: “We are appalled that the two-minute silence was disrupted in such a disrespectful manner.”
Thousands of people took to the streets of Edinburgh yesterday to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War.
The service at the Scott Monument – which was lit up in “poppy red” over the weekend – was just one of many across the city as residents, members of the armed forces and war veterans gathered to pay their respects to the dead.
Further services at the Castle, Waverley Station and the City Chambers also attracted crowds of hundreds, and joined services in churches, public squares, military bases and schools across the UK.
Councillor Steve Cardownie, deputy leader at the city council, said the Scott Monument incident was “disappointing and distressing”.
He said: “Where I was, up at the remembrance service at the City Chambers, the two-minute silence was impeccably observed.
“It’s unfortunate that the service has been disrupted in this way, and it’s unfortunate that this individual has chosen to make these statements. But I’m sure people realise that this was an isolated incident by one individual. The vast majority of people paid their respects to the dead, whatever side they were on.
“If the police can find this man, we will maybe get to the bottom of what he was about.”
This year’s commemorations also marked the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, as well as the end of Britain’s conflict in Afghanistan.
Seven members of the British armed forces have died in service since last year’s Armistice Day, including five who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in April.
In London, large crowds gathered to watch the final ceramic poppy being laid at the Tower of London memorial art installation by 13-year-old army cadet Harry Hayes – with the 888,246 flowers each representing a British and Commonwealth military death in the First World War.
The memorial is estimated to have been visited by nearly four million people since the first poppy was planted in July.
In Glasgow, a special commemorative plaque was unveiled at Central Station, reading: “On these platforms, in two world wars, hundreds of thousands of servicemen and women said goodbye to their families, some for the last time.”
Pupils remember those lost at sea
THERE were emotional scenes at Victoria Primary School as former pupils who lost their lives at sea were honoured during the Remembrance Day service.
As part of the Last Post project, artist Jan Bee Brown and musician Jed Milroy are working with the school and Newhaven Community Choir to remember former pupils and all those who gave their lives in the First World War.
Yesterday pupils joined the choir to mark the Last Post of two former pupils – James L Gordon and Garn Wood – who were lost at sea on HMS Monmouth, in 1914, at the Battle of Coronel.
The group then sang Silent Night in English and German, in memory of the crew of the SMS Blucher, who were lost at sea during the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915. The survivors of the Blucher were landed at Victoria Quay in Leith and cared for in local hospitals.
1 Scots tribute
MEMBERS of The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 Scots) have commemorated a fallen soldier buried in Sierra Leone.
Lance Serjeant Frederick Robertson died in Sierra Leone in 1941 while serving on attachment with The King’s African Rifles.