Supporters of under-threat trenches dig in for battle to save them

Councillor Jason Rust, Peter Grey and Phil Abramson examine the  trenches
Councillor Jason Rust, Peter Grey and Phil Abramson examine the trenches
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Support has flooded in for a campaign to stop the Capital’s historic trenches from being lost forever.

A network of trenches at Dreghorn Woods in Colinton, which it is estimated would cost around £10,000 to 
save, could soon disappear as they become overgrown by trees.

The drive to save them, which is being backed by the Evening News, is being led by writer and historian Lynne Gladstone Millar, whose father William Ewart Gladstone Millar was trained in the trenches before he was sent to the Battle of the Somme.

Jack Alexander, author and a member of the McCrae’s Battalion Trust – which commemorates the men of the 16th Battalion The Royal Scots who lost their lives at the Battle of the Somme – said: “It is so important to preserve anything that is connected to the First World War – we can’t afford to lose the little we have left.

“A lot of people don’t even know these trenches existed.

“They dug trenches in 1915-16 in the Colinton and Dreghorn area as it became obvious that as the trench warfare was going to be the way forward, the men had to be taught how to dig them.

“At a time when we are trying to get more youngsters interested in the First World War, the opportunity to go and see something as evocative as trenches is something we should be looking to preserve.

“It’s certainly not something we want to lose.”

The 16th Battalion 
The Royal Scots dug trenches in the Colinton and Dreghorn area, which at that time was countryside, before they made their way to France.

Last week, representatives from Historic Scotland, the Ministry of Defence and the city council met to 
discuss how the trenches could be preserved.

East Lothian-based Military historian Dr Thomas Renouf called for the trenches to be viewed in the same way as sites of significance in other 
countries.

“There isn’t much left of the First World War in this 
country,” he said.

“If you go to Belgium where there was a great deal of fighting, areas of historical significance are treated with the utmost of respect and are visited 
regularly – there are even tour companies which go out there.

“If sites in Belgium receive so much respect and attention, it would be a terrible reflection on us if ours were just to be disbanded.”

Ms Gladstone Millar told the News: “I’m just delighted that people are taking notice of the trenches.

“If we can get the them surveyed, that will be the most important thing.”