Moving forward with plans for Black Watch memorial

MEMBERS of the Angus Black Watch Association are leading from the front in the campaign to create a fitting monument in memory of thousands of local soldiers who lost their lives in the first world war.

With the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of The Great War (1914-1918) looming, association members are pushing forward with plans to erect a memorial at the site near Polygon Wood in Belgium - known as Black Watch Corner.

For almost a century, Polygon Wood has stood in calm remembrance of the horrors of war experienced by the men who wore the red hackle.

Having lost 8,000 men in world war one and with no specific Black Watch Memorial in France or Flanders, it was an Angus association member, Tom McCluskey from Monifieth who come up with the idea of a permanent reminder of the role played by the regiment in the conflict.

With the help of Major Ronnie Proctor, secretary of The Black Watch Association and chairman of the local branch, and Major Edward de Broe Ferguson, Association chairman, the project is taking shape.

A fund-raising drive to raise the £25,000 required for the memorial has been underway for some time, and, last November, Major Proctor, accompanied by Brigadier de Broe Ferguson, and Tom McCluskey, a former Sergeant Major, made the trip to Zonnebeke, a municipality located in the Belgian province of West Flanders.

There, the plans for the memorial were very well received, with the proposed design forwarded for planning approval.

“We also went to the proposed site for the memorial at Polygon Wood, to get a feel for the place,” explained Major Proctor.

“While we were there we were invited to lay a wreath at one of the nightly Last Post ceremonies at the Menin Gate.”

Major Proctor explained that the Angus Black Watch Association is now awaiting planning approval by the Zonnebeke municipal council.

All going well, the plan is for The Black Watch Memorial to be unveiled in April 1914 - to mark the start of a year-long programme of commemorative events to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War.

Polygon Wood is sited four miles east of Ypres and was the scene of fierce fighting in a gallant rear-guard action involving many Black Watch soldiers around November 11, 1914.