Remembering Arras

Anderson High pupil Holly Mouat reflects on a life changing school trip. For the full story and more photographs, see this month’s Shetland Life.

On 11th April 1917, the Battle of Arras began. Arras is described as “The Scottish Battle”. Of the four years the Great War raged on the largest Scottish loss was at the Battle of Arras.
To mark the centenary of the battle, the Scottish Government organised a trip for two school children aged 14-15 (secondary 3), from every local authority in Scotland to commemorate the lives of those lost. Carys and I were fortunate to be chosen to represent Shetland. I have a keen interest in history and am particularly interested in World War 1. I’m so grateful to the Scottish government for the opportunity, and to Mr Sandison especially for accompanying us and looking after us.
My great-great grandfather, Andrew Duncan Arthur, died in the first world war. My great-great uncle Stanley Anderson also lost his life in the same conflict. I felt that I was chosen to represent Shetland and represent them. It meant a lot to me to know that Andrew and Stanley, amongst many other soldiers, should not be forgotten.
Following a flight from Sumburgh to Edinburgh on Thursday 6th April 2017, an overnight stay at a hotel, a coach trip to Kingston upon Hull and an overnight trip on a ferry, we arrived in Zeebrugge, Belgium on Saturday 8th April 2017. It was my first trip abroad and I must say that it was a great deal warmer than Shetland!
On the day we arrived in Belgium, we headed straight for France and saw the first cemeteries. The cemetery that stood out to me was one where a father and son lay side by side, killed on the same day. Also, the grave of the oldest soldier killed in the Great War, aged 67 years and the grave of a young New Zealander who was court martialled and shot for cowardice. These were only a few people laid to rest in a small roadside cemetery, which really just shows how every soldier has a story, sung or unsung.

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