The units involved at the Battle of Loos form a roll-call of Scotland's finest regiments. They left the farms, factories and fishing villages of their native country and fought ferociously for our freedom in a foreign land.
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
The Black Watch
The Cameron Highlanders
The Gordon Highlanders (which I had the great privilege of being Colonel-in-Chief for 17 years)
The Highland Engineer Field Companies
The Highland Light Infantry
The Royal Glasgow Yeomanry
The King's Own Scottish Borderers
The Royal Scots
The Royal Scots Fusiliers
The Scottish Rifles
The Seaforth Highlanders
No fewer than six battalions of The Black Watch fought at Loos, more than from any other Regiment. Among those in the 8th Battalion was my Great Uncle, Captain Fergus Bowes Lyon, killed while attempting to storm the Hohenzollern Redoubt. Contemporary descriptions by some of those who took part tell an all too vivid story of a ghastly experience of mud, bullet, shell, gas and the overwhelming noise of battle. Casualties on both sides were enormous with the battalions of The Black Watch suffering more than most. The 9th Battalion lost 21 officers and 680 men killed or wounded, the greatest loss ever suffered by any battalion of the Regiment in a single day of battle. By the end of the first day the 4th Battalion, Dundee's own, had lost nineteen officers and 230 men killed or wounded, including their much loved commanding officer Colonel Harry Walker, a distinguished Dundee business man.
As one of the survivors said: "It would have moved anyone to tears to see that little band of mud covered men lined up on parade and to note the frequency with which names were unanswered at the roll call." Whatever historians may say about the purpose and direction of the battle, the story of the Battle of Loos is one that fills us all with the deepest admiration for the extraordinary courage and steadfastness in the face of fearful odds shown by men from Dundee and throughout Scotland: we are told that "they came out of action unsubdued". Their example is deeply humbling and is something in which the people of Scotland can take enormous and justifiable pride. Nothing could do me greater pleasure or privilege than to unveil this plaque in their memory.