Montrose remembers the fallen

Wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in Montrose to remember those who fell in war. Photo by Iain McDonagh Photography
Wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in Montrose to remember those who fell in war. Photo by Iain McDonagh Photography

Across the UK towns and cities fell silent for two minutes on Sunday to remember those who have fallen in wars both past and present.

And Montrose was no different in honouring those that fell.

An Armistice Day parade began from the Royal British Legion Scotland clubrooms, in Wellington Street, and saw legion members, former members of the armed forces, local politicians and youth organisations marching through the streets of Montrose.

Led by Lathallan School Band, they paraded through the town towards the High Street to a service of remembrance at Old and St Andrew’s Church, conducted by the Rev. Ian McLean.

After the church service, the parade marched to the Cenotaph on the Mid Links for an open air wreath laying.

Among the wreaths laid was one by Depute Lieutenant Robina Addison on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

At the same time as the service at Old and St Andrew’s, a Remembrance Sunday event was also held at Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre to remember the pilots who served at the air base.

A wreath was placed on the commemoration stone set in front of the old Headquarters building and next to the Red Lichtie Spitfire, which was unveiled last July by His Royal Highness Prince Edward, by one of the centre’s oldest members.

Ness Vann met her future husband when he was a trainee pilot at Montrose in 1942. Bill Vann was 19 and went on to fly Spitfires, survived the dangers of many operational missions and came back to marry her.

Daniel Paton, curator of Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre, said: “Their’s is a story with a happy ending but at this time of year we remember the less fortunate and the wreath is to honour the hundreds of men who were killed while learning to fly at Montrose.”

After the wreath laying, volunteers from the air station headed to Sleepy-hillock Cemetery to commemorate a pilot who died in Montrose.

Marie Paton, a volunteer, placed a poppy cross on the grave of Lieutenant Maxwell Preston who was killed when his Sopwith Camel crashed in Montrose Basin on September 25, 1918. The poppy cross was sent to the heritage centre by his family in Kent.

Mr Paton said: “Lt Preston’s grave is at the end of a line of graves of men killed while training to fly at Montrose in the First World War.

“They are well tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission but there were no poppies on any of the other graves.

“One of the main aims of the heritage centre is to ensure that the service of the thousands of men and women who served here through the two World Wars is not forgotten.”

He added: “Lt Preston is in a minority in being buried at Montrose. At the request of their families, the bodies of casualties were usually sent home for burial. So all over Britain there are graves of men who died at Montrose.”

Next year is the centenary of the start of the First World War and the heritage centre will be trying to trace the names of the many men who died in Montrose, looking in historic archives and placing them in a digital Roll of Honour, which will be posted on the Internet.

Mr Paton concluded: “Local primary schools will be invited to participate in what we expect to be an ever growing resource, telling the stories of the men killed in training and linking their families to
Montrose.

“Perhaps by next year the poppy cross on Lt Preston’s grave will be joined by many others.”