First Anzac Day in Scotland, inspired by Laurieton | Photos

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Seven Australian and four New Zealand servicemen, whose bodies lie in Scottish cemeteries, were honoured on Anzac Day at their graveside.

Friendship fostered between the Wick branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland (RBLS) and the Laurieton RSL sub branch has resulted in Anzac Day becoming an annual ceremony by the Wick branch of the Royal British Legion. 

The first was held on April 25 at the Wick cemetery in Caithness, complete with bagpipes and bitingly-cold weather.

Laurieton RSL secretary George Wise had spoken to the Scottish branch members via Skype and his research revealed seven Australians with links to Caithness were buried there.

Five gravestones in the Wick cemetery represented men from the Royal Australian Air Force, four represented the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The two other Australian grave sites are, one each, at the cemeteries in Bower and Olrig.

The commemoration on Anzac Day was attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Caithness Anne Dunnett and Caithness Army Reserves Seven Scots Captain Richard Otley who laid flags at each of the Anzac servicemen’s gravestones, the John O’Groat Journal-Caithness Courier newspaper reported on their front page.

Cadet forces paraded, led by the Wick RBLS Pipe Band

The service was also attended by 40-odd tourists from Australia and New Zealand, who happened to miss a planned tour of the nearby island of Orkney when their ferry was cancelled. The Scottish newspaper reported the tourists were honoured to attend the first Anzac service there.

Six of the servicemen buried in Caithness died while serving the RAAF during the second World War. They were Flight Sergeants Maurice Daly and Raymond Faulks, Sergeant Malcolm Kent, Pilot Officer Alan McLay and Sergeant Colin Weston – at the Wick cemetery. The sixth is Flying officer Ronald Fiscalini who was laid to rest at the Olrig cemetery.

Third Light TM Bty Australian Field Artillery Corporal James Simpson’s grave is at Bower. He was killed in action during the first World War in 1916.

The format of the service was an abridged version of that conducted in Laurieton by the RSL sub branch this year and included a laying of a wreath to the fallen by the Lord-Lieutenant, Prayers of Remembrance and the national anthems of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. 

The Wick branch will mark Anzac Day annually.