Colours are re-dedicated.
SOLDIERS past and present gathered in Northumberland yesterday to pay tribute to heroes of the First World War. Serving personnel yesterday joined veteran colleagues to remember the Second Tyneside Scottish Battalion, who went into battle in one of the bloodiest conflicts in British military history. A ceremony and military parade was held at St Cuthbert's church in Bedlington to mark the re-dedication of the First World War unit's colours, which have been displayed in the church for 90 years.
The Second Tyneside Scottish Battalion was one of four Scottish brigades raised up in the North East 1915. Many of the young men were from Bedlington and the surrounding area.
But on July 1, 1916, the unit suffered horrific losses at La Boisselle. The battle, which saw a total of nearly 60,000 soldiers killed or injured, marked the beginning of the Battle of the Somme and was the worst single day loss in the history of the British Army. The Tyneside Scottish Battalions were among the worst hit, with 2,400 casualties between them - among the worst losses of any unit.
In 1919, after the conflict came to an end, the colours of the battalion was "laid up" in St Cuthbert's in memory of the soldiers killed in action. It has been displayed ever since.
But ravages of time meant the fabric of the colours was starting to disintegrate, and needed to be painstakingly conserved. At yesterday's ceremony, the restored colours was returned to its home in the church and re-dedicated to the North East soldiers, once again formally recognising their service to the region and the country.
Members of the battalion's modern-day equivalent, the 204 Tyneside Scottish Battery, and veterans from the Tyneside Scottish Association gathered to mark the occasion.
Michael Eldridge, of St Cuthbert's Church, said: "A colour is unique, it cannot be replaced, so it had to be conserved very carefully.
"Most of the men who joined up to the Second Tyneside Scottish Battalion were from Bedlington and the surrounding area. Many worked in the coal mines.
"In the Battle of the Somme, they were among the first to go over the top, and more than half were killed. This colour and the service remembers them, and also honours today's soldiers."
The modern-day Tyneside Scottish unit is part of the Territorial Army, and many soldiers have recently seen action overseas supporting their regular army colleagues.
They were honoured at the service, which also re-dedicated the newly refurbished memorial chapel at St Cuthbert's, built after the First World War, to North servicemen past and present.
"It was a very moving service," added Mr Eldridge.
"It was a dedication to all the Bedlington servicemen."
After the ceremony, a military parade of the 204 Tyneside Scottish Battery was headed by The Tyneside Scottish Pipes and Drums, and the Last Post was also sounded.
ARMED FORCES DAY MARKED IN NEWBIGGIN
HEROES were also honoured at the Newbiggin and North Seaton branch of the Royal British Legion yesterday.
A military tattoo and parade through Newbiggin marked the Royal British Legion's Armed Forces Day, previously known as Veterans' Day.
People gathered to pay their respects to fallen heroes, veterans, and the serving soldiers who are currently risking their lives on active duty. And the North East branch of the Royal Air Force Police Association chose the event to dedicate their new standard. Branch Secretary Keith Laws said: "Being chosen for the dedication of the RAF Police Association standard is a great honour for the Newbiggin and North Seaton branch and establishes the Newbiggin event as one of the main events of its kind in the country."
ON PARADE One of the pipers who took part in yesterday's service.
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|Publication:||The Journal (Newcastle, England)|
|Date:||Jul 6, 2009|
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