The Dedication Service of the 1939-45 Tablets were unveiled and the Memorial rededicated, at an open-air service held on Sunday, May 8, 1949 the anniversary of ‘ V.E. Day.’ Seats for relatives, Old Fettesians and other visitors had been set out on the terrace facing the Memorial. On the west side there were the choir of about 100 and a band of brass and woodwind players from the School orchestra. Close to the court entrance, across which a cord had been stretched, there were two rows of chairs for those taking part in the service : Old Fettesians on the west side; Governors and Masters on the east side. The Corps was drawn up near the East Lodge with parties of Army,. Navy and Air Force Cadets in their various uniforms and with the- Pipe Band brought to full strength by the inclusion of five Old Fettesians. Major Besly, M.C., was in command of the Parade. At exactly 11 a.m. the slow march began to the sound of The Flowers of the Forest. Immense trouble had clearly been taken to ensure a high standard of playing and marching. As a result this was one of the most impressive parts of the ceremony. At the head of the east drive the Corps wheeled to the right and then marched behind the Memorial, but as the sections passed guards were detached which automatically took up their places on the west (Navy), north (Army) and east (R.A.F.) sides of the memorial court. The first part of the service, the Unveiling, began with the Headmaster’s reading of three sentences (Wisdom, iii, vv. 1 and 5 ; John xv, v. 13 ; Rev. xiv, v. 13). Then came the opening bars of Crimond and the whole congregation rose to join in singing the metrical version of the 23rd Psalm. The Rev. P. St. J. W. Ross, C.F. (S. 1915), then said a prayer after which Dr. Ashcroft read the full names of those commemorated by the new tablets. While he read and the assembly stood in silence the sun came out and the dark, clouds which had been hanging over Corstorphine momentarily lifted. When the last name had been read the President of the Old Fettesian Association, H. Waddell (M. 1915), and General Sir Robert Whigham, G.C.B., D.S.O. (G. 1879), removed the cord across the entrance and unveiled the two Tablets. As they did so the 1914 Guard Presented Arms, and from inside College came the- sound of the Last Post. The last notes were dying away when there occurred an unrehearsed incident which will remain a vivid memory to most people. A flight of three Spitfires flying low from S.E. to N.W. suddenly roared immediately over the Memorial and disappeared as suddenly behind College. And now from the open east window of the 6th Form Room, just above the choir, clear, confident and tuneful, came Reveille. That was the end of the first part of the Service. Wreaths were laid by the President and by representatives of the three Fighting Services : General Whigham for the Army ; Lt. A. M. Hodge, G.C., R.N.V.R. (S. 1929), for the Navy ; and Sq. Ldr. P. A. H. McKe and, D.S.O., D.F.C. and Bar (S. 1935), for the Air Force. The 1914 Guard was relieved and the 1939 Guard mounted. The second part of the Service signified the rededication of the whole Memorial. Mr. H. G. Newman read the 27th verse of the 24th chapter of Joshua: Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us ; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which He spake unto us ; it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.’ Next came the hymn which is traditionally sung at the end of every School term, ‘ 0 God, our help in ages past.’ Major-General Ian Hay Beith, C.B.E., M.C. (Ca. 1890), then delivered a short address which is printed in full below. It may not be out of place to mention here that the loud-speaker arrangements were excellent. Every word of the Service could be heard clearly and there was no distortion whatever. The Very Rev. A. J. Campbell (S. 1887) read the prayers of thanksgiving and rededication, after which the Head of the School (C. McLean, S. 1944) placed a wreath below the motto ‘Carry on’ in front of the original memorial plinth. The Service ended with Dr. Johnson’s hymn ‘City of God’, the Benediction, pronounced by Dr. Campbell, and ‘God Save the King’. Before the congregation dispersed the President of the O.F.A. in a short speech handed over the custody of the new fabric to the Governors of the Fettes Trust, and Sir Ernest Wedderbum accepted it on their behalf. Guards were dismounted and the Corps marched past to the tune of ‘ The Green Hills.’ After saluting the Memorial and wheeling to the right the cadets marched westwards along the terrace and halted in front of College where General Whigham inspected them. Relatives were invited to lunch in Hall where Housemasters and ex-Housemasters presided at the various House tables, and afterwards there was coffee in the Call-over Hall. This gave everybody an opportunity to meet Dr. Ashcroft and a number of other retired members of the Staff whose presence was much appreciated. It will be noted that this ceremony took place five days after Term started. The smoothness of procedure and excellence of performance was mainly due to the time and trouble taken in rehearsal during these few days. It must be a matter of satisfaction to all those concerned that the labour was not wasted. On such an occasion nothing should be attempted that cannot be done really well; and nothing but the best is worthy of the occasion. Owing to Chapel being out of use the evening service was held in the Gym. Dr. Ashcroft preached and his sermon is printed below in full. The choir sang ‘Comfort, O Lord, the soul of Thy servant ’
Address by Major-General Ian Hay Beith, C.B.E., M.C. This is not the first time that some of us have gathered at this spot to commemorate, with mingled sorrow and pride, the achievement and sacrifice of Old Fettesians in the service of their country and the cause of human freedom.
Twice in a generation the youth of our country have answered the call of duty; and on each occasion Fettes, a comparatively small school as numbers go, has made an outstanding one might almost say, an extravagant contribution, as our Rolls of Honour testify. But extravagant or no, there are moments in a country’s history when there is only one course open to give with both hands, rather than hesitate and count the cost. That at any rate was the instinctive view taken by those whose memory we here honoured thirty years ago, and those whose memory we are here to honour this morning. In that connection, I have been reflecting today, and perhaps you have too, upon the contrast between the spirit of 1914 and the spirit of 1939. In 1914, as some of you will remember, we were inclined to greet The Great War, as we called it, as a high and rather exciting adventure. We were all volunteers, and optimists to a man. Victory, we felt, was merely a matter of time. In 1939 our attitude was very different: we were stern, grim realists, who knew, more or less, what was in store for us. And yet in each case the response was just as unhesitating and resolute. So in 1939, for a second time in thirty years, Fettes gave all that she had. Now what are our thoughts to-day ? Some of them, especially the thoughts of those most justly entitled to be here present, are too deep for words and will never be spoken aloud. But many of us most of us, perhaps are probably asking themselves the same question, namely, whether our effort and sacrifice in the Second World War achieved any adequate result; whether it was all worth while ; whether our victory was equal to its cost? Well, the simplest way the only way, in fact to answer that question is to ask ourselves another. It is this: where should we be to-day if that sacrifice had not been made? Where, indeed? That is where we stand at this moment. Further into the future we cannot penetrate at present. As a nation we are still struggling and groping in the track of the storm, trying to find our own bearings, and to set a broken and disunited world back on its feet again; and until history has turned a few more pages we cannot say whether or not our men died entirely in vain. But standing here, in the very presence of those invisible sons and brothers of ours, I for one cannot help being conscious of a renewed conviction of hope for the future, and of renewed belief in the invincibility of the human spirit. Our experiences during the war years taught us at least one thing, and that was that we were greater people than we had thought. Remembering that, let us strive to maintain that greatness in the face of the problems that lie ahead of us. It will not be easy. As a nation we can put up with almost anything. Fortitude we possess, and always did. But we are inclined to lack vision, inspiration, enthusiasm. We are prepared to stay the course, but without any particular confidence or zest especially to-day, when we are a tired people, haunted by two twin spectres Distress and Distrust. In other words, we are diffident about ourselves and inclined to be unduly distrustful of one another. But the men whom we commemorate on this May morning the men to whom we set up the Cenotaph in London and our National Memorial on the Castle Rock over there were none of these things. They had complete faith in the ultimate victory of a righteous cause, and among themselves were a band of brothers. Their cheery confidence and camaraderie were the wonder of friend and foe alike. Here, then, seems to be the talisman for which we are all groping. Its name is Duty the simple duty of living up to the tradition in which those men of ours lived and died, and of carrying out the trust that they have bequeathed to us. So let us see to it that we do not fail them, for they never failed us.
‘ . . . Famous men
From whose bays we borrow ;
They that put aside To-day,
All the joy of their To-day,
And with toil of their To-day
Bought for us To-morrow.’
Wings by H. R. Pyatt, written in August 1942, (Staff 1895-1935)
The soul is winged, its lovely pinions lie
Folded within the body’s sheath,
And hard it is to tell, through that obscuring shell,
The grace that lies beneath.
But in its destined hour,
Touched by a quickening breath, that men call death,
It openeth like a flower,
And frees itself, and takes its flight
Into the light.