Campaigners win fight for signs to Korean War Memorial in Bathgate Hills

A long-running campaign for motorway signs directing visitors to the Korean War Memorial in the Bathgate Hills has ended in success after a U-turn by transport bosses.

By Ian Swanson
Friday, 14th January 2022, 4:45 pm

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Brown tourist signs highlighting the memorial – an arboretum at Witchcraig Wood – are now in place on the M8 and the M9.

The memorial opened in 2000, the 50th anniversary of the start of the war, and annual memorial services have been held, but campaigners said some veterans' families were unable to pay their respects because they could not find it.

Annual services have been held at the memorial.

Transport Scotland turned down requests for motorway signage because visitor numbers did not meet the threshold of 50,000 visitors a year or 10,000 in the peak month.

But after a prolonged campaign, the memorial has now been added to the current brown signs on the M9 and a new sign has been installed on the M8.

The signs were produced by Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, a social enterprise that provides employment and development opportunities for Armed Forces Veterans in Scotland.

The Korean War saw communist North Korea, backed by China and the Soviet Union, in a fierce conflict with South Korea, backed by the US.

The Korean War Memorial was opened in 2000.

More than 90,000 British troops fought in Korea and over 1,000 became prisoners of war.

Three Scottish regiments went to fight in Korea – the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Black Watch. About half were National Servicemen.

Few of the 1,114 British who died, 236 of them Scots, are named on local war memorials up and down the country. But the Bathgate Hills memorial ensures they are not forgotten.

Linlithgow SNP MSP Fiona Hyslop welcomed the arrival of the signs.

She said she had initially raised the the need for signs with the then Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans, Graeme Dey. After that the Scottish Government entered into discussions with Transport Scotland about a review of its signage policy as it related to war memorials of national significance.

Ms Hyslop then invited him to visit the memorial and asked him to encourage Transport Secretary Michael Matheson and Transport Scotland to find a way of including it on the motorway signs.

She said: “I am delighted that the need for and importance of motorway brown signs for the Korean War Memorial has been recognised and that the signage is now installed – and it is fitting that these signs were produced by Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, an organisation that is doing invaluable work with Armed Forces Veterans.

“The Korean War Memorial is a unique war memorial of national significance, the only such memorial in Scotland and indeed the UK, and both local residents and visitors to the area should be able to find it easily.

"I would like to thank the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland, and the British Korean Veterans Association for making this possible.

“The memorial is a peaceful and moving tribute to those who fought and lost their lives in Korea, hand made with Korean tiles by a Korean builder and surrounded by 110 Korean Fir trees and around 1100 Scottish trees representing the servicemen who were killed. I would urge constituents who have not visited the spot in the Bathgate Hills to see it for themselves.”

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Final gathering before changing of the guard at the Korean War Memorial

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