Saturday, 14 November 2015

Earlston's Dinner for Returning Soldiers.

"Welcome home to the returned soldiers, sailors and women's auxiliary of Earlston parish and district" 

This was the greeting on  the 23rd of April 1920, when Earlston paid tribute to its serving men and women of the First World War, by hosting a dinner in their honour in the  Corn Exchange.

 The Corn Exchange in the Market Square

Chairman for the occasion was Colonel Hope of Cowdenknowes, and the dinner  was followed by the toasts and a programme of musical entertainment, with cigarettes provided by Mrs Mitchell of Carolside. 
               This souvenir card is in the collection of Auld Earlston.  

This particular card bears the name of H. R.  Aikman, 2nd Lieut. K.O.S.B.  i.e. Henry Aikman who also gave a reply to the toast to "The Boys who Fought and Won", and was on the  Earlston War Memorial Committee. 

Henry had a very close' personal  connection with the occasion.  He, his twin brother William  and older brother James  were sons of Henry and Lovina Aikman of Brooklyn Cottage, Earlston and all served  in  the First World War with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers,   

William (below)  had worked at Rhymer's Mill, served in the Earlston Territorials as bugler, was a renowned shot and  an active member of Earlston Rugby Club, Golf Club and Bowls Club.  

But at the age of 24, Sergeant William Aiikman  was presumed killed on 12th July 1915 in the Dardanelles Campaign.  He is remembered on  the Helles Memorial in Turkey and on Earlston War Memorial.  

 Photograph courtesy of Coldstream & District Local History Society  

The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by the allies  in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea.  However, the difficult terrain and stiff Turkish resistance soon led to the stalemate of trench warfare. By the end of the year, following a high loss of life, allied forces had withdrawn  from Gallipoli.

The Helles Memorial serves the dual function of being a  battle memorial for the whole Gallipoli Campaign   and a place of commemoration for 20,885 Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave. The 30 metre high memorial takes the form of an obelisk that can be seen by ships passing through the Dardabnell

Also named on Earlston War Memorial along with William Aikman are seven other local men,who died the same day in Turkey 331 men from the K.O.S.B.  were killed or went missing in action, with a further 209 men wounded

William's twin brother Henry Aikman died  on in 1938, buried in Earlston Churchyard. Older brother James also survived the war, living to the age of 90.  


1 comment:

  1. I had not heard before of a community honouring it's serving soldiers in this way. A lovely gesture, and good to see that women in war were not forgotten


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