Work to create Perth’s first war memorial is almost complete – bringing an end to a century-long ‘insult’ to fallen veterans.
The new memorial, which is the brainchild of Perth Veterans’ Association, will be located on St John Street at the back of St John’s Kirk.
And it represents the first dedicated monument in the city to cover all three armed services and all conflicts past, present and future.
Currently, any remembrance services and wreath-laying is carried out at the Mercat Cross outside St John’s Shopping Centre, however, this has been branded “an insult” as it is not technically a war memorial.
Colonel James Macrae, 79, who served in the Black Watch parachute regiment, has been working with others from the veterans’ association for the last few years to get the idea for a new memorial off the ground.
He said: “I ran the Perth Poppy Appeal for 10 years and we were laying wreaths at the Mercat Cross.
“The Mercat Cross was put up in 1914 to Queen Victoria’s son and it is an insult to our war dead to lay wreaths there because it is not a war memorial.
“It is something Perth has never had even though there are various monuments around the town for different regiments like the Black Watch.
“But there is not a war memorial in the city at all, there is nothing for those in the navy or the air force.
“This will be for men and women veterans of the navy, army and air force, it is for the whole armed services.
“The cross is right outside the mall and during services everyone is rushing past you during the silence. That has been a bone of contention in Perth for years.
“But with the perseverance of Perth Veterans’ Association we have done it.”
After the association was set up in 2018, the group self-funded the repair of neglected gravestones and took on the maintenance of the city’s Korean War Memorial – however, setting up a dedicated war memorial was one of the main things the group wanted to achieve.
The memorial, which is being built by Mains Stonemasons, is due to be finished within the next week or so and will be officially unveiled as part of the Remembrance Day celebrations next month.
Councillor Chris Ahern, who previously served in the Royal Air Force and is now Perth and Kinross Council’s armed forces champion, said: “It has taken a couple of years for this to come to fruition.
“When I was elected in 2017 the following day I started looking into this and I and some others started Perth Veterans’ Association. One of our goals was to erect a memorial dedicated to everyone, whatever conflict and whatever service.
“There is not a memorial that covers everyone – there are plaques and memorials all around Perth dedicated to special regiments like the Black Watch, Royal Transport, and the Polish soldiers but we do not have an overriding memorial for all conflicts past, current and future.
“It should have been done earlier this year and been in place for Victory in Europe Day back in May but because of the coronavirus lockdown we couldn’t do that so it had to be moved back.
“But we are hoping to have it finished in the next week or so and then it will be covered up and officially unveiled near Remembrance Day next month.”