Flanders Fields 1914 – Alex Hall

Local man, Alexander Hall, has spoken to the club before on the world wars and was invited back recently to give his overview of those brutal days in what became a major battle theatre at the beginning of WW1. Alex is an expert on many aspects of those gruesome events and this was evident in his instructive and interesting talk. He has a keen interest and admiration for the British Armed Forces and supports the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, cleaning and maintaining CWGC headstones wherever he finds them.

His presentation started with some appalling facts and figures relating to the 500-mile-long front of a battlefield the size of Scotland. The death toll was 54 million, 12 million were seriously wounded and an incredible 1.8 million were recorded as “missing in action”.

Alex then went on to highlight the many Scottish Regiments, from the Argyll & Southern Highlanders to the Earl of Carrick’s Ayrshire Yeomanry, which had taken part in the Great War.

He also paid personal tributes to a selection of young men who had lost their lives fighting for their country, many of whom should never have been enlisted at all due to their being below the minimum recruiting age of 19. The youngest was Sidney Lewis, age 12, who, on discovery, was repatriated only to join up again and eventually fall on the battlefield. Other very young men who Alex mentioned included a significant number who, unjustly, had been “shot at dawn” for alleged cowardice or desertion.

Alex also gave recognition to the number of Scottish holders of the Victoria Cross, awarded for gallantryin the face of the enemy“.

Hugh Millar delivered the vote of thanks to Alex whilst marvelling at his depth of knowledge and level of interest in his subject.