MEMBERS of the Three Towns branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland were accompanied by Isle of Cumbrae RBLS Pipes and Drums on a poignant visit to World War 1 cemeteries in Belgium and France last week.

Legion President Alastair Kennedy writes with a report on the emotional trip.

Myself, Jim Anderson, John Watt, Victor Lees, Gary Stainton and Douglas Orr were privileged to travel to Ypres and France with the Isle of Cumbrae Pipes and Drums.

The band practiced very hard for the trip.

On the first evening, based at the Peace Village at Messines, the Pipes and Drums played for the crowd who were taking part in the ‘The Light’ ceremony where the people of Belgium lit up the whole of the Western Front to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

On Saturday, October 18, the band and the Colours moved off to Illes in France to take part in the rededication of the memorial to Captain J J Boyle of the Royal Scots Fusiliers who was killed on that day in 1914.

Captain The Honourable James Boyle was aged 34 and was the son of David Boyle, 7th Earl of Glasgow and Dora, Countess of Glasgow.

He was the husband of Katherine Isabel Salvin Boyle (now Lady Trenchard). Captain Boyle is remembered with honours at Le Touret Memorial.

The Pipes and Drums played at a moving ceremony and the branch colours were lowered along with French colours.

Later the Pipes and Drum attended the grave of Gunner William Dickie who died on September 25, 1915, aged 38.

He was the son of Thomas and Barbara Dickie of West Kilbride.

He is remembered with honours at Brewery Orchard, Bois-Grenier where three band members from West Kilbride laid a memorial cross.

On Sunday, October 19, the Pipes and Drums attended the evening ceremony at the Menin Gate, Ypres. At 7.55pm we heard the band approaching the gate and to everyone’s surprise they played a melody of World War 1 tunes.

The crowd joined in by singing along with the band which was something no-one had heard before.

A wreath laying ceremony was performed with Jim and John lowering the Three Towns Colours. Gary Stainton laid the Three Towns wreath.

A wreath was laid from the band and Douglas Orr from Stevenston laid a wreath for all Cameron Highlanders.

The Pipes and Drums struck up Highland Cathedral and Amazing Grace and again the crowds sang out in accompaniment to both tunes.

All the money in the world could not buy the emotions felt by the people present.

Tears, sadness, memories and loss were felt by all.

When the Isle of Cumbrae Band marched off to Hielan’ Laddie the crowd erupted.

They did themselves and Scotland proud.

And I am happy to say ‘I was there’.