Church of Scotland ‘sorry’ for Remembrance blunder

The unveiling of Falkland War Memorial
The unveiling of Falkland War Memorial

Remembrance observers gathered at the newly erected Falkland War Memorial on Sunday were left out in the rain without a minister.

A messenger was sent from Falkland Parish Church to the site of the memorial - unveiled last November - at 10.45am to tell the waiting group that due to the rain, the Service of Remembrance would be held at the church.

Outraged that a Remembrance Service would be cancelled due to light rain, at such short notice, the assembled locals refused to leave their post.

“We were extremely disappointed,” said Betty Gilchrist, attendee and member of the war memorial committee. “We got all the money together to build the memorial and we were not going to let that go.

“The men in the trenches didn’t say we’re not going out today because it’s raining. That was the grumble of everyone there.”

Stepping in to save the day was ex-Army officer and the son of a former moderator of the Church of Scotland, John Craig.

“It was very good of Mr Craig to step in and take the service. I want to thank him for doing so and also to the people who turned up and remained at the memorial,” said Mrs Gilchrist.

Also in attendance at the wreath laying ceremony was a local police officer who was said to be ‘disgusted’.

Councillor David MacDiarmid, who was laying a wreath that morning, said: “David Murdoch’s behaviour is appalling. You didn’t have that choice if you were on the battlefields of the Somme, there was no choice and for him to take that attitude was an absolute disgrace.

“The reason we built the war memorial was so that people could actually come and pay a visit or their respects to the their loved ones, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. There are 77 names on it and people can visit year round.”

Previously, the wreaths were laid at plaques inside the church which was not easily accessible throughout the year.

Cllr MacDiarmid continued: “I got on very well with this minister, he is a very capable and funny man. There must be more to this, but he’s never said a word to me about something that’s bothering him.”

A Church of Scotland spokesperson said: “Officiating at the Act of Remembrance is one of the most solemn responsibilities any minister can undertake.

“It is an honour to be invited to perform this service for the community. Therefore, it is with regret that we hear that people in the Falkland community feel let down by a last-minute change of plan.

“It is unclear what happened and because Mr Murdoch, the interim minister, is away and unavailable for comment we cannot know his reasoning.

“However, we believe he would want to apologise for any unintended distress.

“We extend our sincere apologies to anyone who arrived at Falkland War Memorial expecting to take part in a Service of Remembrance.”