This web page is dedicated to Marina Alexander’s uncle – George Duncan, an uncle she never knew – and to all the men from Glass who lost their lives in the First World War.
This article is taken from the Huntly Express on Friday 10th June 1921. The memorial itself was unveiled the Friday before.
GLASS WAR MEMORIAL
UNVEILING AND DEDICATION CEREMONY
SIR GEORGE ADAM SMITH’S TRIBUTE
The unveiling and dedication of the Glass Parish War Memorial took place on Friday in presence of a large gathering of parishioners and others. Previous to the unveiling, a service was held in the Parish Church. It was conducted by Principal Sir George Adam Smith, Aberdeen University, who afterwards unveiled the memorial, which has been erected at Bridge of Haugh, Glass, at the triangular junction of the roads leading to Keith, Huntly and to Bridgend, Cabrach. It is a handsome monument of Rubislaw granite, standing about 80 feet high. It is composed of a rustic base, with a large rustic die and surmounted by a cross. On the die area the panels, with the inscription and the names of the fallen. The work was designed by Dr Kelly, architect, Aberdeen, and executed by Messrs Reid and Alexander, Holland Street, Aberdeen. All who pass the junction of the three roads mentioned cannot fail to observe the memorial, which is placed on the east corner. Friday was observed as a half-holiday in the parish and the joint service in the Parish Church was largely attended. Those present included the ex-Service men in the district, the school children, mourners and the general public. Others present were Mrs Geddes of Blairmore: Lady Birkett, Beldorney Castle: and Mr and Mrs Kessler, Invermarkie Lodge. The service was conducted by Principal Smith and was taken part in by the Rev. W.G. Guthrie, Parish Church and the Rev. A.G. Murdoch, U.F. Church. Ideal weather favoured the ceremony and both the service and the unveiling in the open-air were of an impressive nature. Among the fallen were five pairs of brothers, the families being Geddes, Guthrie, McDonald, Cameron and Berry.
THE CHURCH SERVICE
The service opened with the singing of the 124th Psalm – “Had not the Lord been on our side”. The Rev. A.G. Murdoch read as an Old Testament lesson Psalm 48 “God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble”, after which the 340th Hymn was sung – “Come, let us join our friends above.” As a New Testament lesson, Rev. W.G. Guthrie read the well-known and inspiring passage from 11th Hebrews. The Principal then led in prayer and the choir rendered the anthem, “What are these”
Principal Sir George Adam Smith gave an inspiring memorial address. They were gathered before God that day, he said, with the threefold duty of remembrance, reverence and thanksgiving. The men whose names were recorded on the memorial they were about to unveil did what, according to Jesus Christ Himself, was the greatest thing a man can do – they laid down their lives for their friends, for them and for him and for their liberties and for all mankind. Justice and freedom and the other ideals for which they fought, suffered and gave their lives are essential to the progress of the human race. To forget what they did would be their bitter shame and loss. They revered their memory, their example and their sacrifice, and they thanked their God and Father for their example; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself suffered death for our sakes; and the God and Father of all martyrs to the faith and martyrs for the right, who, consciously or unconsciously have followed Christ in the way of the Cross.
He thanked them from the bottom of his heart for permitting him to share that solemn service of commemoration with them. The association of the Parish of Glass with the University of Aberdeen, had been a long and a very honourable one. The parish gave to the University one of its ablest and most distinguished teachers and Principals as they all knew Sir William Geddes, who by his grace and learning elevated and adorned the two offices which he successively filled. Were it only in gratitude to the parish for having given them such a man he would have gladly come that day, but he came also to join them in the fellowship of Christ’s suffering and in the sympathy that was born of that common conscience, common sacrifice and common hope which we shared as a nation throughout those terrible years of crises and trials. Lieut. Alexander Guthrie, who fell in the war, was a student in Arts at Aberdeen University, looking forward to the ministry and that was another link between the parish and the University. It was his duty throughout the years of the war to keep a provisional roll of the graduates, alumini and students of the University who had gone on service, and he had just been reading the proofs of those pages of their permanent full of service on which are recorded, the names of the fallen in the “In Memorium” part of the great volume which was about to be issued. He wanted to say how immensely he had been impressed by the number of those men who came from the rural parishes of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire, quiet country places like their own. A very large proportion indeed came not from the cities but from the rural parishes of their beloved counties. And they belonged without distinction to all classes amongst them – the laird’s son, the minister’s, the doctor’s and the teacher’s and the blacksmith’s, the farmer’s, the crofter’s, the roadman’s and the farm labourer’s – every family contributed its quota of service and of sacrifice to the great volume which the nation poured forth in defence of freedom and justice and for the world. Many of those from the rural districts were honours degree men.
This gave him all the greater pleasure in assisting them of that country parish in the dedication of that memorial to those of their sons and brothers who had so nobly given their lives for their country and their sacred ideals. Of course those names on the memorial represented only a fraction – to them, of course, a most eloquent and moving fraction, but still only a fraction – of the great volume of sacrifice that in the whole history of our nation was ever called for on behalf of a single generation. He need not recall to them how vast and wide-spread that sacrifice was, or how its memorials at the present day lay sacred in every battle-field, along every great battle front, and through three at least of the great continents of the world. What did they not owe to these men, those countless heroes, and equally to their living comrades who had survived and of whom they were glad to see so many with them that afternoon? What did they not owe? They remembered how conscious the country was of its unpreparedness and the depression there was in the opening years of the war, and they remembered how at first that grand unhesitating rush of their young men to the Colours elevated the national spirit and cured them of their depression and sent us forth as a people who had faith in their cause. It was their sacrifice that led ultimately through long months of darkness and defeat to the final victory whereby this world was saved from the greatest moral catastrophe that even threatened it, and the generations to come from moral and mental exhaustion, and again how they saved our land.
He wished every man and woman who was growing careless or forgetful of the great services rendered by their warriors, living or dead, during the struggle were able to visit as he had done, the devastated regions of France. Then they would realise what their country and their people, themselves and their children and the generations to come, had been saved from by the heroism, the zeal and self-sacrifice unto death of those men, some of whom they were commemorating there that day. They should consider the lands and the peoples who have been freed from a foreign servitude. Do not let them be impatient because final stability and order had not yet been reached among the nations of the world. No war every ended with the signing of peace. God in His own time, by that same spirit that produced order out of chaos at the beginning would give healing to the results of the war, and bring at last peace and understanding and a real brotherhood among the nations of the world.
The first debt they owed to those men whom they commemorated was that of faith. Let them prove loyal to the example which they had set them. He had gone up and down the country visiting the homes of students of his own University who had been taken away and he had been deeply moved by the spirit of resignation and faithfulness in God that was shown by that families, in the knowledge that He would not forsake those who had served His cause to so heroic and great an end. There had been of course a recrudescence in many quarters of the so called spiritualism, which always broke out after a disaster like that which they had passed through, and one could not but sympathise with the hungry longing that sought some visible contact with the departed. But even the history of mankind made it clear that all such enquiries and efforts to get in touch with those on the other side had been practiced only at the cost of moral and rational factors in our religion.
In conclusion, he said, that the older men must recognise the debt they owed to the youth of our people, and be careful to see that the ideals for which they had fought were not lost. To the young people and the children he said a heavier obligation rested upon than ever rested upon any generation of youth in the whole whole range of history. They must follow their example of those who went immediately before them and cherish, as they did, the spiritual ideals that were essential to the race. Let them remember those whom they commemorated, and let them rekindle their courage at the flame of their imperishable glory.
The 339th Hymn – “For all the saints who from their labours rest”, was sung and the benediction was pronounced by Principal Smith.
On leaving the church, the people formed into processional order. The ex-service men were at the head and were followed by the school children. The relatives of the fallen came next and the general public followed. They walked to the site of the memorial, where a short unveiling ceremony took place. The ex-service men were drawn up in a semi-circle at the back of the memorial, accompanied by the members of the War Memorial Committee, and the mourners and the school children were assembled on the road in front of the general public. Among those present were Mrs Geddes of Blairmore, Lady Birkett, Beldorney Castle and Mr and Mrs Kessler, Invermarkie Lodge.
Principal Smith immediately proceeded to unveil the memorial, saying in doing so – I have now the honour of unveiling this memorial in grateful remembrance of the men from this parish who gave their lives for their country during the great war.
After undraping the Union Jack which covered the names and inscription, the Principal led in a prayer of dedication.
Mr Guthrie read the names of the fallen in the order in which they fell.
A piper of the Gordon Highlanders from Huntly, played the solemn notes of the “Flowers o’ the Forest”, and a bugler, also of the Gordons, sounded the “Last Post”
The gathering sang the 66th Paraphrase “How bright these glorious spirits shine” – and Principal Smith pronounced the benediction.
Mr Guthrie said he thought they would allow him, before they departed, to express their gratitude to Principal Sir George Adam Smith for coming that day to the dedication of their memorial. He had already alluded to the fact which they were not likely to forget, that the parish gave a Principal to the University of Aberdeen, and it was that fact, he thought, that first suggested to the War Memorial Committee that the service could not more appropriately be taken than by the successor of the late Principal Geddes. But they also had regard to Principal Smith’s eminent scholarship, which was known the world over, and also to the public spirit he had always show and the great work he had done in this country, in France, and in America. He thanked Principal Smith, on behalf of his fellow parishioners, for his beautiful, inspiring and touching service that day and for coming to do honour to their dead.
Principal Smith returned his thanks.
THE MEMORIAL AND THE FALLEN
The inscription and the names on the memorial are as follows:-
In grateful remembrance
Of the Men from this Parish
Who gave their lives
For their Country
During the Great War
The names on the monument are:-
Capt. John Geddes
Capt. John Bremner
Lieut. Alistair F. Geddes
Lieut. Albert J. Guthrie
Lieut. George Macpherson
Lieut. Alexander Guthrie
Lieut. Donald McDonald, M.M.
Engineer Geo. Smith
Sergeant Robert T. Berry
Lance-Cpl. James Anderson
Lance-Cpl. Alex. W. Gauld, M.M.
Lance-Cpl. Alex. Robertson
Pte. James Gordon
Pte. George Dow
Pte. Alistair Green
Pte. Adam Morrison
Pte. James Finnie
Pte. James Wilson
Pte. Duncan McDonald
Pte. John Walker
Pte. James Robertson
Pte. William Collie
Pte. George Duncan
Pte. George Alex. Innes
Pte. Rowallan Smith
Pte. James S. Cameron
Pte. Charles A. Taylor
Pte. William Cameron
Pte. Sidney F. Berry
Pte. William G. Gartly
Many lovely wreaths were then placed at the foot of the memorial by parishioners, and in a short time the large gathering gradually dispersed, carrying with them the memory of proceedings that throughout were of a deeply affecting and uplifting kind.