By Alexander Lawrie
A SCOTTISH schoolboy visited Edinburgh Castle yesterday to view his war hero uncle’s Victoria Cross for the first time.
James Kellock, 15, from Glasgow, made the trip to the capital to see his great-great uncle’s bravery award as part of a week of special events to mark the forthcoming anniversary of the end of World War I.
The boy’s brave descendent was killed during fierce fighting in France in 1918, and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his incredible courage.
And the soldier’s prestigious medal – which is Britain’s highest military honour for bravery – is now housed in the Royal Scots Museum at Edinburgh Castle.
James and his classmates were attending a special workshop at the castle to learn about Scotland’s role in the Great War.
He said: “I’m here in Edinburgh today on a school trip to learn all about the war. I first heard about my great-great uncle from a relative who has kept all the information about him.
“It really is overwhelming to read and hear about what he did during the war, he was such a brave man.
“Although my mum’s not too happy about it I’m hoping to follow in his footsteps and join The Royal Scots soon. But, I’ve decided to stay on at school to finish my exams first.
“I visited Hugh’s grave in France earlier this year and was really moved by all the sights I saw. It must have been horrendous for soldiers at that time.
“It’s really important for young people to learn about The First World War, and visiting Edinburgh Castle and the War Memorial helps us understand more about it and appreciate just how many Scottish men and women lost their lives in the fighting.”
Hugh McIver was a Private in the The Royal Scots, and in August 1918, near Courcelles-le-Compte in France, he carried messages under intense artillery and machine gun fire.
Pte. McIver pursued an enemy scout into a machine-gun post killing six of the enemy garrison and captured 20 prisoners and two machine-guns.
The heroic Scot was tragically killed in action just ten days later, aged just 28.
The courageous acts of men like Private McIver are commemorated in a memorial in the small French village where he fell, and last year a service was held to honour him in Paisley.
During WWI, 100,000 men served in The Royal Scots and over 11,000 were killed while almost 40,000 were injured.
Only six Victoria Crosses were ever awarded to members of the famous regiment.
Craig Fletcher, Historic Scotland Education Officer for Edinburgh Castle, said: “This week is a fantastic opportunity for high school pupils from all over Scotland to find out more about those who gave their lives for their country during the Great War.
“The fact that James has this special link allows the students to connect with a real person from the time and an inspiring story of outstanding personal bravery.”
By Alexander Lawrie