Royal Scots rail disaster remembered 100 years on
23 May 2015
One hundred years after they died in what remains the worst rail
disaster in UK history, more than 220 members of the Royal Scots
were remembered today during ceremonies in Edinburgh.
Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, the Royal Naval Commissioner with
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), joined HRH The
Princess Royal, descendants and dignitaries in laying a wreath at
the CWGC Gretna Memorial within Rosebank Cemetery.
Of the 271 First World War dead buried in Rosebank, the majority
died in the Quintinshill (or Gretna) rail disaster on 22 May
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 left accidentally on the main line near Quintinshill
signal box, one and a half miles from Gretna.
Following the impact, 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 could not be established as the
battalion roll was lost in the fire. It was, and still remains, the
worst rail disaster in the UK.
On 24 May, the majority of the dead, many of them men of Leith,
were brought to Rosebank Cemetery and buried with full military
honours. The Gretna Memorial screen walls, built and maintained by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, serve as their
Mr Colin Kerr, the CWGC's Director of External Relations,
attended the commemorations and said: "Having just marked the 100th
anniversary of the Allied landings at Gallipoli in Turkey, today we
remember those members of the Royal Scots, being sent as
reinforcements for that campaign but who died in this tragic
disaster. Their loss was felt deeply throughout Scotland then and
today. 100 years later, we still remember."
The personal stories of some of those are buried at Rosebank -
including that of brothers Robert and Geoff Duff of Musselburgh
- can be accessed by visitors to the cemetery through
their mobile phones.
By scanning the QR Code on the CWGC's information panel within
the cemetery, the personal stories are revealed and visitors can
leave a message on a virtual Visitors' Book.
The stories can be found at