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The Gretna Green Rail Disaster 22nd May 1915


7th Battalion The Royal Scots caught in Rail Crash at Gretna Green 22nd May 1915
Page launched on 90th Anniversary, 22nd May 2005

The Funeral Procession in Leith

The 7th Battalion of The Royal Scots (Leith's Own) were on coastal defence duties in early 1915, and in March were re-assigned to 156 Brigade, initially for the Western Front, but in May they were posted as reinforcements to Gallipoli. 

On the 22nd May the Battalion left Larbert in two trains.  The first train carried the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Peebles, with Battalion Headquarters, and A and D Companies commanded by Major J D L Hamilton and Captain A M Mitchell respectively.

At Quintinshill, near Gretna, the train ran into empty carriages of a local train which through an oversight had been left on the main line, and was overturned and wrecked.

Seconds later a northbound express ploughed into the wreckage and it caught fire.

Three Officers, twenty nine Non Commissioned Officers and one hundred and eighty two men were killed or burned to death.  The dead included Major Hamilton, Captain J M Mitchell and Lieutenant C R Salvesen, and the injured Lieutenants W R Kermack, J A Young, J C Bell, and Second Lieutentants  N G Salvesen and T G Clark.

The survivors, only seven officers and fifty seven NCOs and men were taken by train from Carlisle to Liverpool.  Their shock was so profound that on reaching Liverpool the NCOs and men were sent home.

B and C Companies' train reached Liverpool earlier having made a detour and Lieutenant Colonel Peebles embarked with the 4th Battalion The Royal Scots on the "EMPRESS OF BRITAIN" for Gallipoli, and after short periods ashore, arrived off Cape Helles on 12th June.

Most are now aware of the dangers posed by the Secretary of State’s proposals to merge all the remaining Scottish Regiments into a new “Royal Regiment of Scotland”. These proposals include combining the KOSB with Scotland’s oldest Regiment, The Royal Scots. The whole Regiment will soon itself be consigned to the pages of history.


The Royal Scots 1914-1919 by Major John Ewing MC, published in Edinburgh by Oliver and Boyd 1925

External Links

The Scots at War Trust | The Gretna Green Train Crash | Printer Friendly Version
The Standard Bearer- Gretna Rail Disaster