Veterans campaign for signs for only Scots tribute to '˜forgotten war'

A three-year campaign by Korean War veterans to achieve national recognition of a monument to the sacrifice of their comrades has come a step closer to victory.

Wednesday, 26th December 2018, 9:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th December 2018, 10:01 am
Veterans have been campaigning to have the Bathgate Hills memorial given national recognition. Picture: Joey Kelly

Trustees of the Korean War Memorial, led by Major Allan Cameron, have won the promise of review of government policy which could lead to the memorial in the Bathgate Hills being signposted from trunk roads.

The trustees have been backed by cross-party support from West Lothian Council with Linlithgow Labour Councillor Tom Conn and Bathgate Conservative Charles Kennedy among the serving trustees of the memorial.

They have repeatedly written to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf and Transport Scotland, pointing out that improved signage is needed to guide visitors and veterans to the memorial.

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Transport Scotland had repeatedly refused, most recently indicating that West Lothian Council would have to implement local signage first.

West Lothian Council put up signs in spring.

Lothian Tory MSP Gordon Lindhurst added his support to the campaign and had written again to Transport Scotland, backing the council argument pointing out that local signage can guide visitors to the memorial from the motorway, but signage is needed on the trunk roads themselves.

The memorial sits in the Bathgate Hills and was opened in June 2000. It commemorates around 1,100 British men who fell in the Korean War, which ended 65 years ago this year. It is the only memorial in Scotland dedicated to those who fought in the war.

The memorial garden has a historic Korean style wood and slate crafted pagoda between two grass mounds, arranged like the ying and yang.

On the mounds are 110 Korean fir trees and around 1,100 Scottish trees representing the servicemen who were killed.

The site was created by the Lothians and West of Scotland Branch of the British Korean Veterans Association and has been managed by West Lothian Council since 2006.

During 2013, a new and more permanent pagoda was constructed and a service was held to re-open the garden.

Many veterans still describe the Korean War as the “forgotten war”, a conflict for which there was little appetite in Britain so soon after the end of the Second World War.

Speaking following a visit to the memorial and to see the newly-installed local signs, Mr Lindhurst commented: “In this year, the 65th anniversary of the armistice, it is more relevant than ever for Transport Scotland to contribute towards remembering those who fought in Korea.”

Speaking during a debate on remembering the Korean War in Holyrood on December 12, Graeme Dey, Veterans Minister, told MSPs and visiting veterans and trustee supporters: “We will be tasking Transport Scotland with scoping a potential review of its signage policies as it pertains to war memorials that are of national significance.”