Memorial service to commemorate those who died in 1915 Gretna rail disaster

The multi-train rail crash at Quintinshill Junction claimed 226 lives, including over 200 soldiers, on May 22 1915

Gretna rail disaster: Memorial service to commemorate those who died in Britain’s worst rail disaster Royal Scots Regimental Museum

A memorial service is to be held to honour those who lost their lives in the Gretna rail disaster.

The Royal Scots Regimental Association will hold its annual service at Edinburgh’s Rosebank Cemetery on Saturday to remember all those who lost their lives in the crash.

At approximately 6.49am on Saturday May 22, 1915, a troop-train carrying half of the 7th (Leith) Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Lothian Regiment) (7RS), collided head on with a local passenger train at approximately 6.49am on Saturday, May 22, 1915.

The troops had been heading south after being deployed to Gallipoli.

The passenger train had been “parked”, facing north, on the south-bound main line at Quintinshill, just north of Gretna, to allow a following express to overtake it.

The troop train overturned, mostly onto the neighbouring north-bound mainline track and, a minute later, the Glasgow-bound express ploughed into the wreckage causing the troop train to burst into flames.

Three officers, 31 NCOs and 182 soldiers of 7th Battalion The Royal Scots, the driver and fireman on the troop-train, and ten others, mostly from the express train, died. Many more were injured.

Britain's worst rail disaster claimed 226 lives
Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Gretna rail disaster

Led by their Pipe Band and the Association Standard Party, The Royal Scots Regimental Association will parade from the cemetery entrance on Pilrig Street at 10.45am on Saturday.

The service will be conducted by Rev Stephen Blakey, formerly padre of 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots, commencing at 10.55am at the Gretna Memorial which stands in the western corner of the cemetery. All are most welcome to attend.

Brigadier George Lowder, President of The Royal Scots Regimental Association, said: “Amidst all the sacrifices and loss of The First World War, the tragic loss of 216 Members of 7 RS in the Quintinshill Rail Disaster in the early morning of May 22 2015 en route to embarking for Gallipoli was a huge blow to The Regiment, to Leith, and to Edinburgh. 

“Leith marked their passing in a way that highlighted the close links between the Battalion and the Community.

“It was believed that every family in Leith was touched by the disaster and the community continued to suffer as others injured in the crash subsequently died of their injuries.

“Our commemoration remembers not only those of 7RS who lost their lives but also the close tie between The Regiment and Leith that still endures today”.

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