Lasting tribute to Leith WW1 hero 100 years on

A lasting tribute has been installed in Leith to commemorate Sapper Adam Archibald who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his immense bravery 100 years ago.

Saturday, 3rd November 2018, 5:00 am
Unveiling of commemorative paving stone and laying of wreath for Sapper Adam Archibald, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery 100 years ago.
Unveiling of commemorative paving stone and laying of wreath for Sapper Adam Archibald, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery 100 years ago.

Adam Archibald was awarded the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system at the age of 39 for his actions while his unit was attempting to bridge the Sambre–Oise Canal.

He helped to create a floating bridge made from cork while under machine gun fire on November 4, 1918 – exactly a week before the Armistice – persevering until the bridge was completed despite suffering from gas poisoning.

When news of the award was reported on January 11, 1919, he was still recovering in hospital.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sapper Adam Archibald

Lord Provost Frank Ross was joined by more than a dozen descendants yesterday who travelled from America to attend the ceremony to lay a commemorative flagstone along Shaw’s Street – the street where he grew up – to remember his bravery and devotion.

Also present were Major Eddie Walsh, representing the Corps of Royal Engineers 71 Engineer Regiment, Legion Scotland Standard Bearers and a bugler who played the Last Post.

Sapper Adam Archibald enlisted with the 7th Durham Light Infantry before transferring to the 218th Field Company, Royal Engineers during the second battle of the Sambre. He received his Victoria Cross from King George V at Buckingham Palace in May 1919. After his discharge he returned to his job with Stuart’s Granolithic Works in Edinburgh, eventually rising to a position as manager of their Duff Street works.

He passed away at his home in Leith on March 10, 1957 at the age of 76.

Sapper Adam Archibald is one of “three men of our ain” who have been commemorated at the sites of their Edinburgh homes to celebrate a century since receiving their Victoria Cross.

Further tributes have been laid for Cpl James McPhie, who also helped to create a floating bridge. His tribute was unveiled on Sunday at West Richmond Street, where Salisbury Street and McPhie’s home once stood.

Another flagstone can be found outside George Heriot’s School, in remembrance of Lt David Stuart McGregor who was killed while serving in the Royal Scots regimen at Hoogmolen in Belgium, when he fearlessly faced the enemy to allow his men to follow a more covered route. The services herald a season of commemorations in Edinburgh marking a century since Armistice.

Frank Ross, said: “100 years on from the First World War, it is crucial that Edinburgh continues to commemorate its wartime heroes.

“These three tributes and the city’s other Victoria Cross flagstones are a way for new generations to learn about who these servicemen were, in an engaging and meaningful way.

“It is my privilege as Lord Provost to pay tribute to them and their courage in this lasting way. As we head towards Remembrance Day when we will stage a major commemorative service in Edinburgh to mark 100 years of Armistice, it is so important we take the time as a city to reflect on the sacrifices these brave men made, and remember them.”