Commemoration of the Centenary of the 51st (Highland) Division Capturing Beaumont Hamel
The morning of 13 November,
2016, dawned just as its predecessor did a century before, misty, wet
and cold. But by 11 a.m., the time of the start of our ceremony to commemorate
the centenary of the capture of Beaumont Hamel by the 51st (Highland)
Division, the rain had stopped and the day had brightened a little.
51st Highland, 7th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland’s RSM, Colour Party and piper
Derek Bird, Scotland (North) Branch, and Gerard Magniez, Mayor of Beaumont Hamel, lay the first wreaths.
Then wreaths were laid by the dignitaries and regimental associations; with the WFA wreath being laid by Andy Tonge, European Officer. Particularly pleasing was the number of relatives of the men who fought at Beaumont Hamel who attended the ceremony and some laid wreaths including Steve Leslie, Scottish born but who he had emigrated to Canada as a youngster. He travelled from the Middle East to remember his grandfather who served with the 6th Seaforth. Another was laid by Caroline Gauld who was remembering her great-great uncle who served with the 7th Gordons; he was badly wounded at Beaumont Hamel and died in hospital at Abbeville a week later – she had travelled from Australia. He was just one of two thousand casualties, five hundred of whom were killed or died of wounds sustained at Beaumont Hamel.
The line-up of dignitaries and main wreath layers at the close of the ceremony.
After the final words by Derek Bird,
The mayor invited everyone into the grounds of the old school where the
villagers had prepared a large tent to house the vin d’honneur.
To augment the villagers’ sparkling wine and brioche Avril Williams
of Ocean Villas supplied sandwiches, and I had obtained a big supply of
Scottish shortbread and a magnificent donation of specially-labelled Glenfarclas
15 year-old single malt.
The wreaths and flowers laid at the Highland Division flagstaff on the centenary of the battle.
We are delighted to acknowledge the generous support of The Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation in giving a grant of £100 towards the cost of the centenary ceremony.