On Saturday 6 February 1915, Broxburn Public Band departed Broxburn for Edinburgh Castle to join the 4th Battalion Royal Scots. The previous Saturday, Colonel Young, Royal Scots, had visited Broxburn to meet the members of the Band in the Band Hall to discuss their offer to enlist as a band. After a short meeting, the members indicated their willingness to enlist in the 4th Battalion and arrangements were made for Captain Cameron to visit Broxburn along with Dr Kelso to medically examine and enlist the men. The men were to be paid as Privates and, in the event of the Band being sent to the Front, they were to act as stretcher bearers. As their instruments were public property, a meeting was held where there was unanimous support for the Band to continue using them.
The Band were stationed at Coggeshall in Essex and you can see from this photograph taken on the Market Hill - probably on a Sunday after church - that Coggeshall took them to their hearts.
Twelve members of the Band eventually joined fighting units at the Front and six of those fell. They are remembered on a marble plaque fixed to the outside wall of the Broxburn Band Hall.
On 13 April 1917, The West Lothian Courier reported:
A public meeting for the purpose of unveiling the Memorial Tablet, erected to the memory of those members of the Public Band who have made the supreme sacrifice, was held in the Band Hall on Saturday afternoon last.
Mr Arch Fairlie, president of the Band Committee, occupied the chair, and presided over a large and representative gathering of the public, including amongst others, the relatives of the brave heroes, to whose memory the new Memorial was erected.
After a few appropriate remarks by the Chairman and the singing of the 23rd Psalm, prayer was offered up by the Rev Chas Dunn, Uphall Parish Church.
The Reverend Mr Dunn, in the course of a spirited address, said he was proud to associate himself with the people of Broxburn, in paying this tribute to the memory of those members of the Band, who had fallen in action.
Mr Wm Cuthbertson, in unveiling the Memorial, thanked the Committee for the honour they had done him in asking him to unveil this Memorial to those members of the Band who had made the supreme sacrifice. We are, he said, living in the midst of a world-wide war, which was being conducted with a brutality never dreamt of. It was only by the utmost determination and sacrifice that we can hope to conquer these enemies, and they were met that day for the sole purpose of unveiling a Memorial to the four brave Broxburn Bandsmen who had given their lives for this cause. In January 1915, nineteen members of the Band voluntarily enlisted in the Army, and after being trained at various Military Depots at home, twelve of their number joined the fighting units in France. Of that number four had fallen in action, A Brown, R Findlay, J Webster and P Wilson. The remaining members of the Band felt it their duty to erect a Memorial to their late fellow Bandsmen, and as a result of a concert held at Coggleshall, Essex, where they were stationed, the necessary funds had been raised and the outcome was the Memorial Tablet, which I have the honour of being asked to unveil. The fortunes of war are many. To some it brings honour and distinction, to others permanent disablement, others are cut off in the flower of their youth, like the members of the Band, whose memory we are honouring here today. I hope that steps will be taken in Broxburn to erect some permanent memorial in memory of all of her sons who have sacrificed their lives for their country. I am certain that the sincere sympathy of all present here, as well as that of the public of Broxburn, will go out to the relatives of those whom we today honour. Before unveiling the Memorial, I would like to quote to you the Burns couplet:
For gold the merchant ploughs the main,
The farmer ploughs the manor,
But Glory is the soldier's prize,
The soldier's gain is honour.
Mr Cuthbertson thereafter unveiled the Memorial.
Information courtesy of Scotland's War (1914-1919) at www.scotlandswar.co.uk
Photographs taken at Coggeshall are courtesy of the Coggeshall Museum at www.coggeshallmuseum.org.uk