‘Lights Out’ in city to remember First World War

Pic Greg Macvean, 25/06/2011, Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh with Prince Charles giving the royal salute...'Drumhead Service
Pic Greg Macvean, 25/06/2011, Armed Forces Day in Edinburgh with Prince Charles giving the royal salute...'Drumhead Service
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The Capital is set to go dark this evening as part of a UK wide event to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

At 11pm this evening it will be exactly 100 years since the outbreak of the war, and as part of the commemorations hundreds of venues, churches, war memorials and iconic buildings across the country will be turning off their lights and lighting a single candle of reflection.

Venues at the Edinburgh Fringe are also set to take part in the Capital, as well as embassy buildings.

The inspiration for Lights Out came from a famous remark made on the eve of the outbreak of war by the then Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey: “The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time”.

It is a century since Britain entered what came to be known as the The Great War with more than 300,000 Scots signing up to fight.

Little did they know it was to become one of the deadliest wars in history, last more than four years and see nearly 150,000 Scots lose their lives.

To mark the centenary of the First World War a ­special Drumhead Service will be held at Edinburgh Castle next ­Sunday. Organised by the ­Scottish Commemorations Panel it is the first of eight events to mark the start of the Scottish Commemorations ­Programme which will take place over five years.

Almost 9000 people are expected to attend the service including more than 500 representatives of the armed forces, cadets and veterans.

It is believed to be the first commemoration event of its scale in Scotland’s history and will take place on the Castle’s Esplanade where it will replicate what it would have been like for soldiers on the front line 100 years ago when, in a long-held military tradition, neatly piled drums with draped colours were used in place of an altar.

Troops from each of the ­tri-services will be accompanied by music from three military bands, two cadet bands, three choirs and around 200 massed pipes and drums.

The Chaplain of the Fleet, Chaplain General of her Majesty’s Land Forces and the Chaplain-in-Chief of the Royal Air Forces will each deliver part of the service which will be ­followed by a procession down the Royal Mile with around 100 marching veterans and 100 cadets.

A similar event was last seen in Edinburgh on Armistice Day 2011 and the congregation will be invited to follow the procession which will lead to Holyrood Park where at least 1000 replica Commonwealth War Gravestones will form a temporary memorial.

Brigadier David Allfrey, oproducer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and chief organiser of the Drumhead Service, procession and ­memorial, said the service “promises to be a very ­memorable occasion”.

“I am pleased that a hundred years later, so many of our forces, veterans, young people and families from across and beyond Scotland – have shown such a strong willingness to take their place at our commemorative service on August 10, which we think will be the first of its kind in Scotland’s history.”

Other events to be marked include the end of the war, major battles including Gallipoli, Loos, Jutland and Arras and domestic incidents such as the Quintinshill rail disaster and the loss of HMY Iolaire.

Norman Drummond, chair of the Scottish Commemorations Panel, said: “We have worked with local authorities, the armed forces, the veterans community and charities to ensure that people of all ages and from every part of Scotland will be there to commemorate this important anniversary.”

The service, which will also be broadcast on a large screen at the base of Arthur’s Seat, will start at 10.30am and will last around half an hour, with the whole event expected to end around 6pm.