Hundreds of Highland soldiers who lost their lives in a notorious World War I battle which began 100 years ago today will be remembered in a poignant church service this weekend.
Almost 60,000 British troops were killed or injured during the Battle of Loos in north east France. They included almost 900 soldiers of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
A service will be held on Sunday at the Old High Church in Inverness where their names are recorded in the regimental Rolls of Honour. Starting at 11.15am, it will be conducted by the Rev Peter Nimmo. The recently-restored Colours of the 4th Camerons - the Territorial battalion of Inverness-shire and Nairn - will also be handed over to the church to join the colours of the other battalions of the Cameron Highlanders.
The Battle of Loos was one of the major British offensives of the war but was subsequently deemed a failure because of a lack of artillery support, ammunition and infantry reserves.
Five Cameron battalions were involved with over 4000 soldiers between them. Many were volunteers who had given up their everyday lives and jobs in response to an appeal by the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener to form his New Army.
They also included companies recruited from Glasgow University and Glasgow Stock Exchange.
The nature of the battle, with constant fighting, left many of the dead hastily buried in unmarked graves which meant they were not recovered or remained unidentified after the end of the war when attempts were made to retrieve bodies for proper burial.
Among the fallen was Major James Barron, the assistant editor of The Inverness Courier.
The 38-year-old, who was second-in-command of the 7th Battaltion, was trying to save an advance party of soldiers who had succeeded in capturing the strategically-important Hill 70 but were unaware there were no reinforcements to support their advance.
Major Baron was badly wounded and died on 27th September 1915, leaving an orphaned two-year-old daughter, Eveline, who went on to become a long-serving editor and proprietor of the Courier.
* Read more on Major Barron’s story and how The Battle of Loos impacted on the Inverness area in today’s Inverness Courier.