At just before 11 a.m. on 13 November 2006 a crowd, estimated at 300 strong, assembled at ‘Windy Corner’ in the centre of the village of Beaumont Hamel to witness the unveiling of the reinstated 51st (Highland) Division flagstaff and new commemorative stone. The place lived up to its name, as the weather was cold, windy and once the ceremony was underway, wet. Those present were not, however, going to be put off by the weather and stood expectantly awaiting the start of the ceremony.
Soon the sound of the pipes was carried on the wind towards the village as the Somme Battlefield Pipe Band approached from Hunter Trench (more commonly known by its 1 July 1916 name, the Sunken Lane), the jumping off point of the Highland Division’s attack 90 years before. Marching behind the band were a twenty-strong contingent of the Khaki Chums dressed to represent the men of the Highland Division in full battle order.
After my welcome and opening address, I invited Monsieur Bernard Omiel, Mayor of Beaumont, to speak and unveil the new commemorative stone, which was then blessed by Deacon Ron Clabon who had kindly agreed to stand in at very short notice when the local priest became unavailable.




The Mayor of Beaumont, Monsieur Bernard Omiel (nearest camera), assisted by Derek Bird, unveils the new commemorative stone.





Then Colonel McDowall, Deputy Military Attaché, presented the mayor with a new Tricolore for the village to fly whenever they wish, before Colonel Lapsley and Major Sherrad, 51st (Scottish) Brigade, raised the Scottish Standard over the village for the first time in many years; the village having promised to revive the tradition of flying it on subsequent anniversaries.



Colonel McDowall, Deputy Military Attache, speaking prior to presenting the new Tircolore to the village.












Colonel Lapsley (left) speaking before he and Major Sherrad, both 51st (Scottish) Brigade, raised the Scottish Standard.










The Scottish Standard flies over Beaumont Hamel for the first time in many years.




The Last Post, two minutes silence and Reveille were followed by the Exhortation given by Stuart Bufton, WFA Vice Chairman, and a magnificent rendition of The Flowers of the Forest played by Sergeant Macdonald of the Army School of Bagpipe Music, Edinburgh.
The French and British guests of honour including Bruce Simpson, WFA Chairman, then laid their wreaths. More wreaths and tributes were then laid on behalf of the regiments who had battalions fighting at Beaumont Hamel, by several WFA branches, and by individuals who wished to honour the men of the Highland Division.



Colonels Lapsley and McDowall (nearest camera) salute after laying wreaths.











WFA Chairman, Bruce Simpson, pays his respects after laying a wreath.








The Mayor of Albert (furthest from camera), Monsieur Regnard of Le Souvenir Français and the Mayor of Beaumont, after laying flowers at the flagstaff.











Bill Chalmers (furthest from camera) and Alex Winton (both Scotland (North) Branch members) laid wreaths on behalf of the The Royal Scots and The Black Watch respectively (the regiments with which they carried out their National Service), and Mrs Joan Thomson laid one on behalf of the Scotland (South) Branch.










Derek Bird, Scotland (North) Branch Chairman and Flagstaff Appeal Coordinator, pays his respects after laying a wreath on behalf of his branch.




The ceremony finished with a moving tribute from Monsieur Denis Regnard, local representative of Le Souvenir Français and able translator throughout the ceremony for those of us not able to adequately master French. Ron Clabon gave the final blessing, and I gave my closing address before Monsieur Omiel invited all to join him at the vin d’honneur the village had prepared - ably supplemented by Avril Williams and her staff, and a good supply of Speyside malt whisky from donor distilleries. At the vin d’honneur I was able to publicly thank some of those who had been of particular help during the project, and proposed a toast to ‘the Scottish soldier, past, present and future’.





Wreaths and tributes laid at the flagstaff.










A Khaki Chum at 'Windy Corner'.






The unveiling on the 90th anniversary of the capture of Beaumont Hamel was the culmination of two years work and I would like to record my gratitude to all those, branches and individuals alike, who responded so generously to our appeal or assisted in other ways. I would also like to thank everyone who made the effort of travelling to France to make it such a memorable occasion; I hope that they all feel that our efforts to commemorate the men of the Highland Division and to restore the previously derelict flagstaff have been worthwhile; one lady certainly did as she thanked me for many things including my arranging for the Scotch Mist to come down!
The future upkeep of memorials is always a concern but I am pleased to report that with the funds remaining from the appeal we should be able to ensure that the flagstaff and stone are maintained for the foreseeable future and we will, of course, continue to liaise with the village over the coming years to ensure everything remains in good condition.

Derek Bird
Scotland (North) Branch