Poignant wartime words to surround Hearts memorial

Hearts historian Jack Alexander is now looking at what quotations can be used at the Haymarket landmark. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Hearts historian Jack Alexander is now looking at what quotations can be used at the Haymarket landmark. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Poignant inscriptions quoting the Hearts heroes of McCrae’s Battalion who fought in the First World War trenches are to be added to their memorial.

Words spoken by wartime Jambos manager John McCartney or Sir George McCrae himself will surround the commemorative clock at Haymarket, under plans approved by city council officials.

Charity trustees who look after the memorial will launch a fundraising appeal to pay for the work, which they hope will be completed during the next four years of commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the war.

Organisers insist they will be tasteful and understated, and will not alter the memorial itself.

As well as the historical inscriptions, a single large paving slab placed in front of the clock will bear the club crest from 1914.

Proposals also include a low railing that will surround the clock, allowing those leaving wreaths to attach them securely so that tributes are no longer carried off by the wind.

Thirteen Hearts players enlisted for duty in the Great War but seven did not come home.

Jambos historian Jack Alexander said: “The memorial is sacrosanct, but since it’s been returned to the traffic island, to commemorate the centenary of the First World War we will be putting in some landscaping around it. Some of the slabs around it will be carved. It’s going to be very discreet. It’s not going to be grand or fussy.

“We decided that it would be a good idea to put some simple carving into the paving slabs around it, and also to add a very low railing around the paving at the bottom of the memorial to secure wreaths that are placed during the main service in November.”

Hearts supporters groups and members of the public will be invited to help raise money for the work, and are welcome to submit ideas for the inscriptions themselves.

Mr Alexander said: “Now that we actually have the permission, it’s a question of deciding what quotations we can pick. We have to find contemporary quotes that are going to actually give members of the public a little bit more of a sense of what the memorial stands for.

“It’s best to go back to the time and find something like that, perhaps from the Hearts manager at the time, who was a very literate man and always good for a quote for the papers. It could be something that Sir George McCrae wrote at the time or said at the time.”

The Hearts memorial has only recently been returned to its place at the centre of the Haymarket junction following four years in storage while tram works were ongoing.

Mr Alexander added: “When the memorial was in storage for such a long time, there was an opportunity to ensure that it had a setting that was a little bit more fitting, because of the centenary and upcoming years of commemorations.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com