Princess Anne marks 100th anniversary of Britain’s worst rail disaster at Quintinshill

The Princess Royal has spent two days near the English-Scottish border, to mark the centenary anniversary of the Quintinshill rail disaster.

Princess Anne attended a wreath laying ceremony yesterday, with relatives of victims, politicians, and soldiers and veterans of the Royal Regiment of Scotland; today, Anne was at a service in Leith, to also mark the 100th anniversary of Britain’s worst ever rail disaster.

On 22nd May 1915, two trains collided at Quintinshill, near Gretna, with a third ploughing into the crash moments later. One of these trains was a standard rail service, while the second carried 500 soldiers from the Royal Scots – who were travelling to Liverpool to sail for Gallipoli – and the third was an express train, headed for Glasgow.

The second impact from the express service saw the crash erupt into flames, engulfing the wooden carriages and killing more than 200 soldiers inside, as well as 12 civilians; some body parts were badly damaged and could not be identified, so it is likely the toll is actually higher. A further 246 were injured.

The passenger train had been mistakenly parked on the line, causing the crash.

Princess Anne and Nicola Sturgeon laid wreaths at the Royal Scots memorial, with another on behalf of the Royal Scots, the regiment that lost some of their own. Anne’s wreath was of white roses, lillies, Shasta daisies and carnations.

The Princess is patron of The Royal Scots Association.

Today, Anne attended a service in Leith, which Ms Sturgeon also attended. The service, held in a car park of Gretna Green Visitors’ Centre, beside Quintinshill railway tracks, consisted of hymns, prayers, and a minutes silence. The Last Post was also played.

A roll of honour was also unveiled at Gretna Old Parish Church, and a tree planted at the war memorial to mark the event’s centenary.

Local Council leader Ronnie Nicholson said: ‘It’s important that we take time to respectfully mark the centenary of this momentous event, which took place in our region.

‘Our council is working with local communities and a range of appropriate organisations to deliver a fitting tribute.’

Feature photo: isleofeigg

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