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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Scotland falls silent for Remembrance Sunday


People around Scotland have paused to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

At 11:00 a.m. on Remembrance Sunday, thousands of people fell silent for two minutes of solemn reflection.

Hundreds of people gathered in Edinburgh for a remembrance service outside the city chambers on the Royal Mile.

Wreaths have been placed at the Stone of Remembrance to pay tribute to those who fought and died in previous conflicts.

Among the dignitaries in attendance were First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

Similar events are being held across the country after being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic last year.

World War Two veteran Jack Ransom took part in the service at the Stone of Remembrance
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those laying wreaths

It coincides with the poppy’s 100th anniversary as a national symbol of remembrance.

PoppyScotland, which runs the Scottish Poppy Appeal, reported a 28% drop in donations last year due to the inability to conduct face-to-face collections.

This year’s centenary appeal received a “wonderful response,” according to Gordon Michie, the charity’s head of fundraising.

“It’s been especially heartening to see such determination from our volunteers to resume face-to-face collections after so many were forced to stay at home last year due to the pandemic,” he added.

Crowds gathered at the war memorial in Grantown-on-Spey in the Highlands
Crowds gathered at the war memorial in Grantown-on-Spey in the Highlands
Wreaths were laid at the memorial in Prestonpans

Among those laying wreaths in the capital was Jack Ransom, 100, of Largs, Ayrshire, who served during WWII.

He was captured in Singapore in 1942 and forced to work on the Burma Railway as a prisoner of war.

Jack Ransom worked on the Burma Railway as a prisoner of war during World War Two

In other news, a memorial service was held in Northesk Parish Church in Musselburgh, East Lothian, to honour Helen Burnett Wood, a local nurse who was killed in 1917.

Helen, who was born in 1888, immigrated to Illinois in 1909, at the age of 21, and worked as a telephone operator before studying to be a nurse.

In May 1917, she volunteered to serve with US Base Hospital Number 12 and was deployed to France.

Helen Burnett Wood trained to be a nurse after emigrating to the US

And she was on board the SS Mongolia with other American medical personnel when it was involved in an accident the day after it left New York.

During a practise drill, one of the ship’s guns exploded, sending a shower of shell fragments across the deck, killing the 29-year-old Scot and fellow army nurse Edith Ayres.

American flag

The Scotsman reported her death, and her sister Annie, who also emigrated to the United States, later told a Chicago newspaper, “I didn’t want Helen to go, but she said if her brothers could risk their lives for Britain, she could risk hers for America.”

The Evanston History Centre had the American flag flown above the US Capitol building in Washington DC this autumn in memory of Helen Wood.

The Stars and Stripes hangs in Northesk Parish Church in remembrance of Helen Burnett Wood

Jenny Thompson is its education director, and she collaborated with Simon Fairnie, a local historian and member of Northesk Parish Church, to arrange for it to be sent to Musselburgh in exchange for a Saltire flag.

“As one of the very first American casualties during the First World War, a woman who volunteered to serve and an immigrant to the United States, Helen Wood’s storey resonates more and more with each passing year,” Ms Thompson said.

“We’ve been fascinated by her storey for many years, and we wanted to do more to connect our two towns and explore the history that binds us together.”

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