Three Western Isles members of 1st Battalion The Highlanders ACF travelled to France to take part in commemorations to mark the centenary of the Arras Offensive.
Second Lieutenant Alexander MacIver (48), Staff Sergeant Instructor Rebecca Nicolson (32) and Cadet Corporal Stephen Hunter (16) from Ness Detachment spent three days in Arras visiting various memorials and taking part in services to mark the centenary of the offensive.
The Western Isles representatives were part of a group of sixteen cadets and adults – selected from various Scottish Army Cadet Force Battalions – to represent the Service Cadets at the commemoration service held at Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery in Arras on 9 April. The ACFA Scotland contingent joined – among others – descendants of troops who fought in the offensive.
The Western Isles team visited the Thiepval Memorial, the 36th (Ulster) Division memorial at Ulster Tower and crater created by the Lochnagar Mine detonated on the first day of the Somme – which at the time was the largest mine detonated and left a crater 30 metres deep and 100 metres wide. During the service the cadets held wreaths that were presented to ambassadors and dignitaries for them to lay at the memorial.
2Lt MacIver who is the commander of Ness Detachment said: “It was a great trip and an honour to be a small part of a big machine that organised for twelve cadets and four Cadet Force Adult Volunteers to represent Scotland at such an important event.”
The Arras Offensive was fought from 9 April to 16 May 1917 and by the end there were almost 300,000 men from both sides wounded, missing or dead. While Scottish battalions had more than played their part in the Loos the Somme offensives, Arras saw the greatest concentration of Scottish battalions in any of the set-piece battles of the war – with the 9th and 15th (Scottish) Divisions and the 51st (Highland) Division. In total there were 44 Scottish battalions committed to the battle. At the end of the offensive out of the 159,000 British and Commonwealth casualties, one-third were Scottish.
Main image (top) shows The Right Rev Dr Russell Barr (5th right) Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with the Cadets.