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Gretna Rail Disaster

On 22 May 1915, a troop train, carrying some 500 soldiers from the 1/7th Battalion, the Royal Scots, destined for Gallipoli, was travelling south from Larbert in Stirlingshire to Liverpool. It collided head-on at high speed with a stationary local train which had been accidentally left on the main line near Quintinshill signal box, one and a half miles from Gretna. The impact telescoped the 195-metre long troop train to a mere 61 metres, and the wooden coaches full of soldiers caught fire.

A minute later the Euston to Glasgow express ploughed into the wreckage. The catastrophic chain of events led to the death of over 220 men, with nearly 250 injured. The exact number of dead Royal Scots could not be established as the battalion roll was lost in the fire.

It was, and still remains, the worst rail disaster in Britain.

On 24 May, the majority of the dead, many of them men of Leith, were brought to Edinburgh (Rosebank) Cemetery and buried in a mass grave with full military honours.