North Star 14 March 1925

Attribution: Image by Angeleses Balaguer from Pixabay (The North star)

The account which follows is taken from the North Star of 14 March 1925:


A Unique Cross and a Book of Remembrance.
Double Unveiling Ceremony at Dingwall.

Thursday was a proud day in Dingwall – if to many it may have recalled tender memories. On that day was unveiled at the Station Square a memorial monument surmounted by a wooden cross, and, at the Municipal Buildings, a sumptuous volume, in vellum with a massive and beautifully designed and carved oak cabinet to contain it, giving the name and record of every man who served with the 4th Seaforths during the war. Both are to be the Battalion’s War Memorial – to the officers and men who served and, more particularly, to those who fell during the 1914-1918 campaigns in France and Flanders. They are certainly unique among war memorials in this country. With these, and the Burgh War Memorial opposite the Post Office, the Seaforths’ Boer War Memorial Cross opposite the Free Church, and the General Sir Hector Macdonald Tower on the Greenhill, together with the memorial tablets in the Parish and United Free Churches, and in the County Buildings to the County Police, Dingwall has a proud showing of admiration and regard for those who have won renown in war and battle. It is well that valour’s service should be thus remembered.

The Memorial Cross, unveiled on Thursday, is in many respects a striking tribute to the heroes whom it is designed to commemorate. After the memorable battle of Cambrai, towards the close of I9I7 and the end of the war, a mound of stones, with a tall wooden cross surmounting, was erected to the memory of the Seaforth Territorials who fell during the strenuous fighting, the moving story of which is told in the “History of the 51st (Highland) Division” (published by Blackwood), which also gives prominence to the gallant part played by the territorial Seaforths on other parts of the fighting line. The citizens of Cambrai, in gratitude to the Seaforths, placed tribute tablets on the Memorial, and there it stood during the seven years since its erection, the tall wooden cross being a conspicuous feature. Circumstances rendered necessary the demolition or removal of the memorial mound, and with the loyalty and devotion to old comrades characteristic of him, Colonel T. W. Cuthbert, Achindunie (who went out with the Battalion in October 1914 and led it in the field for a time after ill-fated Neuve Chapelle), set about the preserving of as much of the Memorial as was possible, With other devoted Seaforth friends, and in conjunction with the Seaforths’ Re-union Club, he had the remnants brought over to this country last year, and steps were taken for their restoration and re-erection in Dingwall. Thursday saw the unveiling of the restored remnants, with the additions necessary to complete the cairn.

The other Memorial, the War Records of the Battalion, is a magnificent volume. We doubt if another like it, or so richly sumptuous, exists to the memory of any other battalion or regiment taking part in the war. The massive red pig-skin cover, ornately embossed, with its panelled front bearing the battalion crest in gold, and the spacious vellum leaves filled with their precious tale of names, service, and battle records, all engrossed and beautifully illuminated by hand in black and red, will be proudly cherished by the City Fathers, as it will no less be a source of pride to the relatives and friends of the thousands whose names are recorded. Apart from its special purpose, it is a work of art, no less to be admired on that account than it will be prized as a worthy memorial of those whose names it enshrines. In addition to the names and the record of the battalion and individual service, the volume is prefaced by a fine portrait, full length, of the Prince of Wales, Hon. Colonel in Chief of the Seaforth Highlanders, in Seaforth uniform. There is also a holograph letter to Colonel Cuthbert, from Lord Seaforth which was written at Brahan Castle a few days before his death, in which he extols the battalion’s prowess, and expresses his good wishes for the success of the volume as a worthy record of its war and battle service. There is, also, a tribute from the Rt. Hon. Ian Macpherson, M.P. for Ross and Cromarty, who was Depute Secretary of State for War. The whole contents of the costly volume were prepared, arranged and the more than 3000 entries compiled by Colonel Cuthbert to whom the work, if a labour of love, must have entailed years of enquiry and research. The containing cabinet is itself worthy of this unique Memorial Record. Its massive oak panels, their beautifully carved crests and mottoes, and the long proud roll of engagements in which the Seaforths took so heroic a part, with the cushioned containing drawer lined with Seaforth tartan, make quite a picture. We hope that it will have a more fitting place for exhibition than where it now stands. No doubt when Dingwall’s Sept-Centenary Hall is an accomplished fact – next year – this magnificent memorial cabinet and volume will have an honoured setting within its walls.


Long before two o’clock – at which hour the first part of the unveiling ceremonies was timed to begin – the Station Square was filled with interested spectators from town and country, many being present from Inverness-shire on the one hand and Sutherland and Caithness on the other. Special contingents had come from as far as Ullapool and other parts of West Ross-shire. Earlier in the day a number of beautiful wreaths were laid at the Cairn and in front of the Memorial Records in the Municipal Buildings, and also at the foot of the Burgh War Memorial. These included three costly floral tributes from the Dingwall Town Council. Those taking special part in the day’s proceedings arrived in procession from their various places of muster – the Town Council, preceded by their halberdiers, from the Town Hall, the guards of the old 4th Seaforths and the 4/5th Battalion, under Lieut. Fraser of Leckmelm, from the old Barracks Square, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides from the Academy, with the County Police who served in the war, and the Seaforth pipers and buglers who came over from Fort George. These took up their places in front of the Memorial, with Brigadier General D A Macfarlane, CB, DSO; Brigadier-General Sir Walter Ross of Cromarty; Colonel Fraser of Leckmelm, CMG; Provost Crawford, Rev. John Dow, CF, Knockbain; and Rev. Ronald Macdonald, CF, U.F. Church, Dingwall, immediately in front of the Cairn.

The ex-service men were in command of Regt. Sergt. Major J. Macleod; the guard of 20 men of the old Fourth were under Lieut. K. Ross, and the 1/4th Seaforth contingent was under Lieut. S. Fraser, MC, Leckmelm. The Boy Scouts were under Scoutmaster A. Macfarquhar and Asst. A. Macrae, the Girl Guides being in charge of Mrs Alice Mackenzie, Torachilty.

The proceedings opened with the singing of the first five verses of Psalm 46 to the tune Stroudwater, led by Mr A Dinsdale, ARCO, and a choir and orchestra, after which the Rev. John Dow, CF, engaged in prayer.

General Sir Walter Ross, in the regretted and unavoidable absence of Colonel Sir Hector Munro, the Lord Lieutenant, introduced General Macfarlane. At the mobilisation in 1914 General Macfarlane commanded the Seaforth and Cameron Brigade, and no doubt it was a matter of great gratification to him, as it was to them all, that the 4th Seaforths were selected as one of the first Territorial Battalions to cross overseas and take their place in the field with the Regular Army. He had the honour of calling upon General Macfarlane to unveil the Memorial.

General Macfarlane said they had met there to do honour to the memory of those gallant men of all ranks of the 4th Seaforth Highlanders who gave their lives for their King and Country in the Great War, by the visible symbols of this Cross now to be unveiled and the Memorial tablet placed in the Town Hall. He had had the honour of having the 4th Seaforths under his command before the war, and, on mobilisation and the concentration of the Highland Division at Bedford, and he knew that with the splendid material of which they were composed that a great future awaited them on active service. The Battalion was the first of the Seaforth and Cameron Brigade, and one of the first of all the Territorial Battalions of the country to be sent to the front in France, a fact which spoke for itself, and the magnificent record it made for itself during the next four years was well known to all; a battalion and a record of which Ross-shire might indeed well be proud. He had recently visited some of the great battlefields of the British Army in France, and though almost all signs of war were now obliterated, there were scattered far and wide the cemeteries in which their gallant dead lie, and each of those cemeteries was a beautiful garden, tended and cared for by British ex-soldiers. In each there is a lofty cross and a cenotaph with an inscription, and the graves are marked each with its headstone and with flowers. It must be a great consolation to those whose dear ones gave their lives for their Country to know that their bodies rest in such beautiful places. So while in pride and gratitude they raised memorials such as that to their gallant dead, they knew with the writer of old that “Their bodies are buried in peace but their Name liveth for evernore.”

General Macfarlane then withdrew the Union Jacks which covered the three large tablets on the cairn and, facing the Memorial, stood for a brief moment at the salute.

The Rev Ranald Macdonald then offered up an impressive dedicatory prayer, in which he referred to the courage and sacrifice of those who fell in the prime of life, and prayed that their service and example would prove an enduring inspiration and blessing.


Colonel Fraser of Leckmelm, in asking Provost Crawford, as representing the Burgh of Dingwall, to accept the custody of the Memorial on behalf of the 4th Seaforth Re-union Club of 1914-1918, said that the Royal Burgh of Dingwall had many distinctions in the past, but he felt that the burgh had cause to feel that these distinctions had been enhanced during the Great War by association with the County Territorial Battalion. Judged by standards such as fitness for very early service in the field, gallant conduct in the field, honours and distinctions won, inclusion in the famous 51st Division, they might well claim that the home battalion, the old 4th Seaforths, was at least one of the best. Among heroic deeds of the past what more dramatic than “How well Horatius kept the bridge in the brave days of old”. They in Ross-shire did not need to look back so far to find heroic deeds. On that rough memorial were recorded a few names of their own people, as worthy of poetic immortality as that of any Horatius. Nay, more so. Those men fought, not in the limelight, as he did, fresh and strong, but weary from a long campaign, many of them previously and recently wounded, weighed down by modern equipment carried for days continually in an appalling inferno of poison gas, bursting shells, bombs, grenades and rattling machine guns without support, a weak and scattered company on a front of some 600 yards, overwhelmed by a German Guards Division. Yes, they kept the bridge, like the men they were, holding up the Germans for a time, and thus enabling the remainder to retire, as nobly as any Horatius ever did. No reward like his was theirs, only a noble death. In graphic terms Col. Fraser then related the heroic exploits of the 4th Seaforths in the Cambrai struggles of the close of 1917 as told him by one who took part in the memorable fighting, who had been handing up the ammunition to one of his officers, a skilled shot, who single-handed held a hot corner until he fell, shot through the heart. There were many such episodes in the gallant record of their TH Seaforths, and that Memorial, as originally erected at Fontaine Notre Dame, recorded but a single instance. The Memorial could not remain where first erected. The Royal Burgh of Dingwall was the only fit resting place. They therefore, on behalf of the TH Battalion, The Seaforth Highlanders Re-union Club, 1914-18, asked the Provost of Dingwall to take over the Memorial for safe keeping in all time coming.

Provost Crawford, on behalf of the Town Council and citizens of Dingwall, said it was a proud honour to accept the care of that unique Memorial so solemnly dedicated that day. The Memorial was as remarkable as it was unique. Simple and unpretentious, yet most impressive and suggestive in design, with its symbol of sacrificing and conquering love it made an overwhelming appeal. They did well to rear those memorials to the illustrious dead, for in the stress and strain of everyday life they, alas, too soon forgot the tremendous price which had to be paid for national liberties. When coming generations would ask what those stones meant, they would speak their own story, and they would do so with an eloquence which no orator could rival. They would tell of the mighty deliverance which was wrought out for civilisation and humanity by the heroic service and sacrifice of our bravest and best. They would also tell of the unconquerable courage and endurance of Ross-shire’s immortal terriers, against whom Germany’s proudest legions hurled themselves in vain. Certain they were that that memorial would in years to come be an inspiration and also a message of hope to all who saw it, and a challenge to prove themselves worthy of the service and sacrifice of those whom it commemorated. In accepting the custody of the memorial they wished to express their heartfelt gratitude to Colonel Cuthbert, who more than any other person thought, planned and worked for the realisation of that wonderful!y touching tribute to the 4th Seaforths and their glorious deeds on the battlefields of France and Flanders.

This part of the proceedings closed with a Lament played by the pipers and the Last Post sounded by the buglers. It was a deeply moving close to a touching ceremony.


A procession was then formed and, headed by the pipers and drummers playing a Lament, marched to the Municipal Chambers. Following the pipers came the guards of ex-Service men, the Provost, Magistrates and Town Councils of Dingwall, Tain, Cromarty, Fortrose, and Invergordon, various public bodies, school children under Mr Turnbull and the Academy staff, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, Brigadier-General Macfarlane and others assisting at the ceremony, guard of 4/5th Battalion and County Police who served overseas. These were accommodated within the enclosure in front of the Municipal Chambers, the general public filling the High Street for a considerable distance east and west. It was estimated that over 2000 were present at the ceremonies.

General Macfarlane, General Sir Walter Ross, Colonel Mason Macfarlane, CMG, CBE, who was the first commander of the Battalion when it went out to France and until his wounding at Neuve Chapelle; Colonel A. F. Mackenzie of Ord, CMG, MVO, who was seriously wounded at Loos; Colonel Holland, DSO; Provost Crawford; C.S.M. Mackenzie, Garve; Rev. John Dow, and Rev D. Y. Robertson, Parish Church, Dingwall, CF, took up their places on the balcony, when Mr Robertson opened the proceedings by announcing Paraphrase 66 “How bright these glorious spirits shine”. This was sung to the tune St. Asaph, led by Mr Dinsdale and his choir and orchestra, after which Mr Robertson engaged in prayer.

General Sir Walter Ross, in the unavoidable absence of Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Gairloch, again introduced General Macfarlane, who proceeded to unveil the Memorial Records. Before doing so, he said they should remind themselves that while cherishing the memory of their gallant men and the pride they felt in their gallant deeds, they should not fail to follow their example. Proceeding he said – “When we recall the unselfish single-mindedness of our soldiers at the front, when all, irrespective of class, combined with whole-hearted enthusiasm to ensure the defeat of the enemy and the safety of our Country and Empire, we should find in their actions a very notable lesson to ourselves at the present time. Our country, to which we owe so much, and of which we are so proud to be citizens, is at this time in the shadow of evils almost as serious as that of defeat by a hostile foe. Foreign competition, loss of trade, unemployment, dissensions of many kinds threaten our very existence, and it is only by following the example set us at the front in the war, by sweeping aside selfish motives and aims, and by all ranks and classes working together in whole-hearted confidence for the common good that we can hope to bring back peace and prosperity to our land. As at the front, it was only by unremitting toil and labour combined with a dogged determination to overcome, that victory was finally achieved. So it is only by the exercise of the same qualities that success can be commanded now. It is our duty, not only to our country, but to the memory of those whom we honour to-day. that we should hand on untarnished the glorious heritage for which they gave their lives.”

The General then pulled the cord which released the Union Jack placed over the Memorial in the vestibule below, the Balcony party standing at the salute.

Rev. John Dow, in the absence of the Rev. John Maclead, formerly of Urray Free Church, now of Glasgow, who was Chaplain to the Battalion during the war, then offered up the dedicatory prayer.

C.S.M. Rod. Mackenzie, Garve, as President of the 4th Seaforths Re-union Club, addressing Provost Crawford, asked him to take over the custody of the Memorial for safe keeping. The contents of the Memorial volume, he proceeded, were compiled from the official records, and those of them who were responsible for the keeping of those records during the war did their utmost to ensure their accuracy. Of the 4056 of all ranks whose names were inscribed therein, 1170 were, alas, among the unreturning brave, whose sacrifice they were commemorating that day with sorrow and pride. That tribute to their memory from the Club he committed to the care of the Dingwall Town Council, to be placed in the Municipal Buildings and kept there, so that present and future generations might, by perusing the volume, realise how much they owed to the brave men who counted not their lives dear unto themselves, but willingly gave them up in defence of their native land. Provost Crawford, in accepting the Memorial on behalf of the Town Council, said that the remarkably beautiful Memorial Roll and the strikingly handsome cabinet, with its richly carved panels, formed indeed a worthy memorial to gallant men. The Roll and Cabinet were remarkable as works of art, but they were still more precious because of what they symbolised and commemorated. Such a tribute could only come from hearts filled with a great love and admiration for comrades-in-arms, who took part in the mightiest conflict which ever devastated this sorrow-stricken world. In that book of remembrance were the names of those who counted not the cost, but at the call of King and Country and for the freedom of humanity laid on the altar of sacrifice their young manhood with all its high hopes and aspirations. To all coming generations the roll of honour would tell of loyalty, heroism, and endurance which would ever remain a proud chapter in Ross-shire’s story. The honours recorded on the panels eloquently tell of the noise of battle and garments rolled in blood. That exquisitely beautiful memorial they would ever prize as one of their greatest and most precious possessions. To the members of the 4th Seaforths Re-union Club the citizens of Dingwall would ever be under a deep debt of gratitude for counting them worthy to be its custodians, and they promised that it would be proudly cherished and lovingly preserved.


Colonel Mackenzie of Ord said he had been asked to tender to the Burgh of Dingwall the thanks of the Seaforth Re-union Club for accepting the custody of the Memorials unveiled that day, and also to acknowledge the kindness of the L.M.S. Railway Company in granting the site for the cairn and cross in the Station Square. His part in that memorable day’s proceedings was an insignificant one, but none the less a pleasure because of his association with their gallant regiment. He remembered somewhere back in the ‘sixties, having seen the Colours of the old 78th Highlanders deposited in that same hall. The Cross and the Memorial Records unveiled that day would in days to come fittingly commemorate the gallant part played in the war by their county battalion. He was proud and felt honoured to take part in that ceremony which would be a memorable event in the history of Dingwall.

Colonel Mason Macfarlane, on behalf of his brother officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the 4th Seaforths, and in name of the parents and relatives of their most treasured and honoured dead, thanked most warmly and truly each one of those who had in any way been instrumental in the erection of the cross or in the production of that most valuable and handsome memorial roll. They felt a deep debt of gratitude to all those workers, and in particular to Sergt. John Ross and Sergt. Hugh A. Ross, sons of Mr John Ross, painter, Dingwall and to Mr Munro, builder, and his two assistants for their reconstruction and erection of the cairn and cross. He was also glad to have that opportunity of thanking one – whose name he was not permitted to give – to whom above all others was due their gratitude for the labour of love on his part, which he had unreservedly given towards the erection of the cross and the production of the battalion roll of honour. To him was due the conception of the idea, and to his wonderful zeal and energy and driving power alone was due the completion of these memorials. Personally he owed him a very deep debt of gratitude, one so heavy that he would never be able to repay it. Since 1914 he had lived out of Ross-shire, and his absence from the county had made it impossible for him – to his very great regret- to take any active part in perpetuating the memory of their fallen comrades, but he wished to add one more tribute of sincere gratitude to him for what he had done, and also to wish him every possible success in the preparation of the 4th Seaforths’ war history, on which he was now engaged. That would be his crowning effort and would go down as a record of his wonderful power, and live for all time as the war story of the county battalion, to which they were all so justly proud to belong.

The pipers played a Lament, and the buglers sounded the Last Post. This was followed by a minute of silence, after which the Rev. D. Y. Robertson pronounced the Benediction. Reveille was then sounded, and the proceedings closed with the singing of the National Anthem.


Although Colonel Macfarlane mentioned no name in his special vote of thanks, it was well known to many who heard his eloquent words that the reference was to Colonel T. W. Cuthbert, whose great and devoted labours in connection with the Memorial Cross and the Memorial Records and Cabinet are only what those who know him would expect of the gallant Colonel. His success in connection with the Memorials so impressively unveiled on Thursday is a sure guarantee that similar success will attend the Historical Record of the Battalion’s service and achievements in France and Flanders of which it is known he has been engaged for some time

The arrangements in connection with Thursday’s ceremonies were carried out in their orderly fashion by Colonel Cuthbert, the marshalling being in charge of Major W. S. Dewar, Major Gilbert Fraser, Mr J. F. Hunter, and other members of the 4th Seaforth Re-union Club. Captain Finlayson, C.C., and Deputy C.C. Ross were in charge of the excellent police arrangements.


The gallant soldier who unveiled the Memorials is a son of the late Rev. J. D. Macfarlane, MA, and is married to a daughter of Rear-Admiral Hon. Richard Bingham. He has a distinguished military record. In the Chitral Relief Expedition he was dangerously wounded and has had numerous ”mentioned in dispatches”. When in Dingwall on Thursday he renewed acquaintance with many old service friends whom he was pleased to meet. During the first year of his command of the Seaforth-Cameron Brigade, his A.D.C. was Captain Charles Lemon, Dingwall, of the old Seaforth volunteers.

Colonel Mason Macfarlane was also pleased to meet with so many Seaforths who went out with the Battalion from Bedford and served under him at the defence of Givenchy and at fateful Neuve Chapelle.


Erected by a Dingwall Seaforth.

It will interest Dingwall people to know that the original of the cairn and cross unveiled on Thursday was erected on ground beside the village of Fontaine Notre Dame, near Cambrai, by Lieut. (Transport) Murdo Mackenzie, MC, of the Dingwall Post Office staff, and a fatigue party, one of whom was Sergt. Ross, carpenter, Strathpeffer, now in the Colonies. Lieut. Mackenzie, after the memorable fighting of those specially strenuous days, was told off by Colonel Unthank, then commanding the 4th Seaforths, to carry out work. This was done under difficulties. The cairn was built from stones and turf, the cross was cut from a silver birch tree in a shattered wood in the neighbourhood, and the panel recording the officers and men of the Seaforths who fell in the fighting was made from the door of a shelled building in the village, the names being inscribed by an artist who was on the commissariat staff attached to the battalion remnants. Shortly after its erection the people of Cambrai affixed tributes in token of admiration and gratitude for the heroic work of the Seaforths. It was learned last year that the site of the Memorial was required for other purposes, and through the efforts of Colonel Cuthbert what remained of it was taken down, carried to the coast and shipped to this country. The remnants were taken to Ardross where they were reconstructed and prepared for re-erection at Dingwall – as seen in the memorial unveiled in the Station Square on Thursday. It is certainly one of the unique and striking of War Memorials ever erected in the homeland. The names on the front panel include those of several Dingwall and Ross-shire men.

The rope ladder, repainted, which surrounds the cairn, was used by the battalion at the Cambrai operations and was placed around the Memorial as originally set up in France.

We give a photo block of the front panel showing the inscription and names. The tribute from the citizens of Cambrai was in the following terms :-

Mort Pour La Patrie 4eme Battalion Le Seaforth Highlanders. Honeur aux Hommes Mobilises dans cette village pour la Bataille de Cambrai, 1917.


The following is the text of Mr Ian Macpherson’s letter, when Deputy Secretary of State for War, inscribed in the Memorial Volume:

The ‘Fourth’ was a battalion of willing men, a shining example of the Territorial spirit. As free men, on the first day, they rallied to the standard; as brave men they fought with gallantry to the last. Well do I remember them at Bedford in the first months, eager, soldierly, disciplined. One of the first Territorial units to go to the Front, they were soon in action, and from that day till the long end came, they were hardly ever out of it. Alone, and as part of a Division which won deathless fame, they covered themselves with glory. Their deeds filled with praise the hearts of all in the proud land which gave them birth. This Memorial, issued with the approval of, and with a special photograph of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, the Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, will live as the imperishable record of fine men, and be cherished as the story of their valour in many a home.


In addition to the wreaths placed on the Memorials by Dingwall Town Council, already referred to, a beautiful wreath of lilies and hyacinths came from the Glasgow Branch of the 4th Seaforth Highlanders Re-union Club. Another wreath had the inscription of the London branch, while one composed of arum lilies and tulips came from officers and men of the Seaforth Depot, Fort George. There was also a magnificent wreath of laurels from the Dingwall 4th Seaforth’s Re-union Club. Floral tributes were also sent by other battalions belonging to the Highland Territorial Brigade.

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