Scottish Commemorations Panel minutes: November 2016

Minutes for the 28th meeting of the Scottish Commemorations Panel on 30 November 2016.

Attendees and apologies

Panel Attendees

  • Professor Norman Drummond (Chair)
  • Dr Bill Maxwell
  • Duke of Buccleuch
  • Trevor Royle
  • Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Irwin
  • Sir Hew Strachan
  • Group Captain Bob Kemp


  • Brigadier David Allfrey
  • The Very Revd. Dr John Cairns KCVO
  • Maggie Cunningham
  • Barry Wood
  • Gurjit Singh Lalli
  • Kevin Gray
  • Magnus Linklater
  • Professor Mona Siddiqui
  • Commodore Charles Stevenson

Other Attendees

  • Tri-Service Advisers to the Panel
    • Captain Chris Smith RN
    • Brigadier Gary Deakin
    • Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson
  • Scottish Government
    • Laura Stewart
    • Ann Wells
  • Legion Scotland
    • Stephen Elliot, Events and Liaison
  • Guest
    • Dave Thompson, Deputy Director, First World War Centenary Commemorations, DCMS

Items and actions

1. Welcome from the Chair

1.1\ The Chair opened the meeting by welcoming Dave Thompson, Deputy Director First World War Centenary Commemorations, DCMS and Jonathan Pryce, Director of Tourism, Culture and External Affairs, Scottish Government. A warm welcome was also extended to Captain Chris Smith RN, Brigadier Gary Deakin and Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson.

1.2 Apologies were received from the Brigadier David Allfrey, Maggie Cunningham, Gurjit Singh Lalli, Professor Mona Siddiqui, Commodore Charles Stevenson, The Very Reverend Dr John Cairns KCVO, Kevin Gray, Legion Scotland, and Barry Wood, Scottish Government Marketing.

1.3 The Chair announced that Ewan Mackenzie had now left the Engagement Team at Scottish Government to take up a new post in Education. He asked that the Panel’s gratitude to Ewan for his excellent work whilst leading the SG Commemorations Team be recorded. In addition, the Chair announced that Laura Stewart would also shortly be leaving the Team to take up a promoted post at the Scotland Office. On behalf of the Panel the Chair congratulated Laura on the new post and thanked her warmly for her excellent support and good advice during her time working in the Commemorations Team.

2. ‘Looking Forward – 3rd Battle of Ypres, July 2017’

2.1 Dave Thompson, Deputy Director First World War Centenary Commemorations, DCMS, provided the Panel with a paper which set out the plans for commemorations for the centenary of the start of the Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as Passchendaele. This is the only key commemorative event being led by the UK Government in 2017 and will take place over the course of 2 days, 30 and 31 July.

2.2 On the evening of Sunday 30 July, the nightly Menin Gate Last Post ceremony will bring together allies and former enemies to commemorate those lost in the battles of the Ypres Salient and thank those who have, since 1928, carried out this nightly Act of Remembrance. One hundred and fifty descendants of those who fought at Ypres, chosen by ballot, will be invited to attend. Around 450 VIPs are expected. Following this, the famous Cloth Hall of Ypres will have images and the film of the story of Ypres projected on to it that will give an understanding of the experience of WWI in this part of Belgium. Film of troops marching to the front through the Menin Gate and Market Square will also be shown.

2.3 On 31 July the focus turns to Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery where a Service of Remembrance will be held at 1:00 pm. Four thousand places will be available for descendants. A call for descendants will be made in January.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

3.1 The minutes of the meetings of 7 September and 19 October had been circulated. Panel members were asked to contact Ann Wells if any inaccuracies were subsequently discovered.

4. Update on action points from the last meeting

4.1 A number of Action Points concerning Arras from the previous meeting were still ongoing but generally, administrative actions had been dealt with. Reverend Dr Calum Macleod has been invited to join the Panel meeting on 15 March 2017 and Jenny Waldman of 14-18 Now would be present at the meeting on 1 February 2017.

4.2 The Chair had met with Cabinet Secretary and discussed the remainder of the commemorative programme with her including thoughts around Armistice 2018.

5. Arras 100: Sunday 9 April 2017

5.1 Arrangements for the Arras 100 event are still being finalised but the outline programme for the day is now established with a City of Arras led ceremony starting the day at 6:30 am. Events in Arras and at Vimy Ridge are expected to draw large crowds with Scotland’s commemorations taking the form of a representative commemorative service at Faubourg d’Amiens at 9:30 am and Beating Retreat by the Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums at 6:30 pm in the centre of Arras. A further recce to Arras will take place in January.

6. Elsie Inglis 100: Wednesday 29 November 2017

6.1 The Panel were advised that two events were being considered to commemorate the centenary of the death of Dr Elsie Inglis in November 2017. The first event would be on the anniversary of her death, Sunday 26 November, with a wreath laying at her grave in the Dean Cemetery in Edinburgh. The second event would be a Service of Thanksgiving on Wednesday 29 November 2017, the anniversary of her funeral, at St Giles Cathedral. Edinburgh City Council will host a short reception after this event in the City Chambers. The service will be very female orientated in view of Dr Inglis’ strong suffragette sympathies.

6.2 A meeting of the group taking forward the plans for the commemoration has been arranged for January and BBC Radio Scotland representatives are expected to attend.

7. Armistice: Sunday, 11 November 2018

7.1 Jonathan Pryce opened the discussion by expressing hope that the Panel would have support for the 2018 Programme through the recruitment of a Project Manager. He encouraged the Panel to consider engaging with the Year of Young People and to develop a bid for funding through the Year of Young People Programme.

7.2 Key players are now engaged with the commemoration of the loss of the SS Tuscania and the HMS Otranto on Islay in May 2018. A strong American presence is expected at the event which will last around 2 hours and include a re-enactment of a march by the Islay Pipes and Drums and a ceremony at the Ramsay Hall.

7.3 The Panel were advised that the focus on the event was also likely to be on survivors and it was noted that many were from Wisconsin. It was mentioned that the University of Wisconsin has a faculty at Dalkeith and that it would be worthwhile making contact about the event nearer the time.

7.4 Arrangements for the UK Conference on the Home Front in June 2018 are progressing well with Lecture Halls booked over the weekend of 20 to 22 June. A number of ideas are being considered for the wider event which will run from 18 to 22 June including linking with the Never Such Innocence Awards Ceremony, a sequence of plays, a book festival and a documentary film by 14-18 Now. Contact with Local Authorities should be made soon to engage them with the event.

7.5 The proposed tour of Far Far From Ypres in the lead up to Armistice 2018 is beginning to take shape with Legion Scotland currently preparing a bid for funding from Heritage Lottery Fund and Creative Scotland.

7.6 DCMS are preparing plans to hold a service at Westminster Abbey on the evening of 11 November 2018 which might reflect on moments during the commemorative period. This would hopefully be televised. 14-18 Now are hoping to create an event or action which would represent a single unifying moment for the Nation. The Panel’s Think Tank for Armistice is due to meet again on 23 January.

8. Reports from the Tri Services

8.1 Captain Chris Smith reported that he had been in talks with Western Isles Council Chief Executive in Stornoway and had been given to understand that there are mixed feelings around a commemorative event on 1 January 2019. He believes that around half of the community would prefer to have a private commemorative event. Captain Smith is returning to Stornoway in March for further discussions when the Chair and Maggie Cunningham will be on a recce visit with local Councillors and Community representatives.

8.2 Brigadier Gary Deakin said he was keen to pin down arrangements for the commemorations at Arras and would be willing to arrange an operations order. He also suggested it would be worthwhile investigating whether there could be Cadet involvement at Arras.

9. Marketing

9.1 Barry Wood had sent his apologies at being unable to attend the meeting but had provided an update report for the Panel.

9.2 The suggestion from a previous Panel meeting that the WWI00 Website should host more information on future events had been discussed with Smarts who expressed concern that promoting events which were still in the planning stage might lead to criticism or cause difficulties.

9.3 Social and digital channels traffic levels remain steady for this time of year with a small spike in traffic around Remembrance.

9.4 The poems for the Somme on the website has now ended with a total of 21 poems being posted fortnightly for the duration of the Battle. The Panel to recorded its gratitude to the Scottish Poetry Library, and in particular Librarian Lizzie MacGregor, for the tremendous amount of work which had gone into delivering this.

10. Update on the Chair’s activity since the last meeting

10.1 Since the Panel meeting of 19 October the Chair had undertaken meetings with:

  • Julian Evans, Head of Protocol at FCO
  • Captain Nick Wright, Private Secretary to HRH The Princess Royal
  • Tim Gerhardson and Louise Thompson at US Embassy London
  • Mike Russell MSP for Argyll & Bute
  • Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Culture and External Affairs
  • Jonathan Pryce, Director of Tourism, Culture and External Affairs

The Chair also undertook several engagements, amongst which:

  • Lecture on Clearing the Debris of War hosted by The Halo Trust at the Scottish Parliament
  • Civic Reception at Dundee
  • Educational Engagement event at The Mitchell Library

11. Panel meetings in 2017

Panel meetings during 2017 will take place on:

  • 1 February
  • 15 March
  • 26 April
  • 7 June
  • 6 September
  • 25 October
  • 6 December

Unless otherwise advised, the meetings will continue to take place between 1:30pm and 4:00 pm on Wednesdays at 35 Drummond Place, EH3 6PW. A light buffet lunch will be available from 1:00 pm.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Panel is on Wednesday, 1 February from 1:30 until 4:00 pm. A light buffet lunch will be available from 1:00 pm.



Scottish Commemorations Panel
Area 2-H
Victoria Quay

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