Edinburgh Garden of Remembrance opening service sees 96-year-old war veteran James White lay wreath

A 96-year-old war veteran who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War was among those to lay the first wreaths at Edinburgh’s Garden of Remembrance.

By Rhoda Morrison
Monday, 25th October 2021, 6:48 pm
Updated Monday, 25th October 2021, 7:02 pm
Veteran Myles Shandley at the Edinburgh Gardens today.
Veteran Myles Shandley at the Edinburgh Gardens today.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

James White, who served in the navy’s clearance team and worked to clear the remains of crews and ships which had been sunk by German forces, laid the last of more than 30 wreaths at a poignant service held at the garden, which is open at the Scott Monument until Remembrance Sunday.

Speaking on behalf of James, whose diagnosis of Alzheimer’s has left him unable to recall stories from his days in the Navy, his son Jeff said: “We were honoured that he was invited to the Garden of Remembrance opening today. Laying a wreath in tribute to those he served with and others that lost their lives in war was a very poignant moment—he was very proud to have been asked.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

James White, 96, lays the Legion Scotland 100 Centenary wreath at the Garden of Remembrance today with son Jefferey White, 67, providing a helping hand.

The ceremony was organised by Legion Scotland and led by the charity’s Padre Rev Dr Karen Campbell. Readings were performed by The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, the Rt Hon Frank Ross, and Sir Alistair Irwin, the charity’s national president, who read Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’.

“Although my dad is not an active member in Legion Scotland, I contacted them when he was first diagnosed to enquire about any support that could be offered,” said Jeff.

“Now, once a week someone from Legion Scotland visits dad at his home in Morningside and sits with him. He can’t remember many of his Naval stories anymore, but those who visit him bring their own pictures and tell him of their experiences. This camaraderie really is a blessing.

“We are truly grateful of the fantastic support that Legion Scotland have provided as it’s not only helped my dad but gives my wife and I a little bit of respite from his care.”

Sir Alistair Irwin at the Garden of Remembrance today

A Field of Remembrance, which sits adjacent to the garden, features hundreds of poppy crosses and other symbols from Poppyscotland, the charity behind the annual Scottish Poppy Appeal.

The Poppy Appeal was established in 1921 by Field Marshal Douglas Haig in the aftermath of the First World War. It celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

Dr Claire Armstrong, chief executive of Legion Scotland, said: “After more than a year of virtual events it means a huge amount to our veterans to come together for the opening of the Edinburgh Garden of Remembrance. This year is especially important as it marks the centenary of Legion Scotland, and 100 years of the Poppy Appeal.”

She added: “Our centenary is both a time to celebrate our rich history and heritage and look positively towards the future with renewed vigour.”

Gordon Michie, head of fundraising and learning at Poppyscotland, added: “Vulnerable veterans have been hit especially hard over the past 18 months and we anticipate demand on our services continuing to rise in the year ahead. That’s why we hope the public will go the extra mile in their support for the Scottish Poppy Appeal in its 100th year.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.