44 Buchanan Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8RF - 0131 554 0953
Company Registration Number: 197820 - OSCR Charity Number: SC006692
In the early morning of 22nd May 1915 one thousand and twenty-eight officers, and men, of the 7th (Leith) Royal Scots set out for Gallipoli. As they set out from Larbert Station no one foresaw the tragic events that would unfold as a head on collision with another train at Quintinshill, near Gretna, would take the lives of 216 men.
Few crashes in Europe can have had more of an impact upon one small community than the Gretna raill disaster which took place at Quintinshill Junction on the 22nd May 1915.
trains were involved; a special troop train, a local train and the
night express coming north from Euston Station, London. The special
troop train carried the Leith based 7th Battalion Royal Scots,
Territorial Force bound for Liverpool on their way to Gallipoli as part
of 156th Brigade of the 52nd (Lowland) Division. The Battalion had been
mobilised at the outbreak of the First World War and had served on
coastal defences. Bound for war and in high spirits they left Larbert
in two trains and headed south. It was the second of these trains that
was involved in the crash.
Signalmen at Quintinshill, anxious to complete their paperwork, simply
forgot the local train which should have been shunted on to a loop line
but which was sitting directly outside their signal box and gave the
all clear signal for the troop train to come through. The impact was so
great that the troop train was crushed to less than half its normal
length and the wreckage overturned on to the northbound line.
later the northbound express from Euston crashed into the debris
setting it on fire. It was Britain’s worst train crash. Three officers,
twenty-nine non-commissioned officers and one hundred and eighty two
soldiers were killed or burned to death. Thousands lined the streets of
Leith for the funeral procession and burial at Rosebank Cemetery.
of those who survived the crash returned home and the remainder ofthe
7th Battalion sailed to Gallipoli. The two signalmen were held
responsible and served terms of imprisonment. The Pilmeny Youth Centre
dedicates these pages to the memory of all those Leith soldiers and
The Pilmeny Youth Centre are planning four commemoration themes to remember the tragic events of Gretna 1915. The local community needs to open a window to this tragic and rarely every mentioned event. The Pilmeny Youth Centre research team and our partner research team, Leith Academy Princes Trust XL Group, has uncovered many strands to this tragedy during our research. Our Commemorative Stained Glass Plaque and the Tree of Life will be a fitting tribute to the memory of Leith's own and stand as testament that in future years the community will never forget the Leith Battalion 1/7 Royal Scots.
For details on the four themes please visit their dedicated pages which are linked at the top of this page.
Information displayed in captions is correct to the best of our knowledge following research carried out by project staff and young people from Leith Academy's XL Group. Photos courtesy of Andrew Grant.
Photograph of the wreckage at Quintinshill on 22nd May 2015.
Leith Academy XL Group pupils visit Rosebank Cemetry, the final resting place of many of the casualties.
If you require any more information please contact us using the enquiry form at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you can call the PYC on 0131 554 0953 or email firstname.lastname@example.org