remember the fallen

Remembrance Sunday: Veteran’s tribute to the fallen

AN ARMY veteran has transformed his front yard into a garden of remembrance – after Nicola Sturgeon asked Scots to mark Remembrance Sunday “on their own doorsteps”.

Former Scots Guardsman William McMaster, 57, created the display in his garden in the village of Crosshouse, near Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, so he can hold his own service on Sunday.

The Falklands veteran, who now suffers from Parkinson’s, was helped by two fellow members of veterans group Ayr Home Guard, who double as wartime re-enactors.

It includes a decommissioned Second World War field gun, headstones to soldiers who fell in the First World War and a symbolic grave to the Unknown Soldier, together with a lifesized war horse with string that resembles barbed wire.

A poppy flag reads “Lest we forget” while wooden silhouettes representing soldiers, sailors and airmen on parade line a ramp to his front door.

Tomorrow he will conduct his own service and pay his respects with Binyon’s Lines For The Fallen and two minutes’ silence before laying a wreath on the field gun.

Mr McMaster, who was 18 when he fought in the Falklands, said: “Normally on Remembrance Sunday, 

I go to church and take part in the annual service, but this year people aren’t able to do that because of Covid.

“I do worry that it’ll all be forgotten about, which would be so wrong. I just feel it’s so important that we all remember.

“We’ve been working on the display, out of my shed. It’s been a lot of work but I’ve got great neighbours.

“I’ll have a short service in the garden, a two-minute silence at 11am and lay a wreath on the gun. Anybody who wants to lay a wee cross, a poppy or a wreath in my garden on Sunday will be more than welcome to do so.”

The First Minister has encouraged Scots to mark Remembrance Day at home, and join the national two minute silence at 11am “on their own doorsteps”.

Mr McMaster and the Ayr Home Guard veterans – including pals Pete Scally and John Moffat – usually don their re-enactors’ wartime uniforms and collect money for armed services charities at this time of year.

This year they are unable to take their collection tin to their usual spots due to Covid-19 restrictions, but anyone passing Mr McMaster’s house will be able to leave a donation to the charity Bravehound, which supports veterans.

He said: “I’m very proud of my service but I know about soldiers going to war who never come home and we mustn’t forget them. For me, every day is Remembrance Day, but if my front garden helps some other people remember then I’m doing something small to help.

“Charities’ fundraising has really suffered this year but we’ve got a collection tin and any funds that we do raise will go to Bravehound, the charity based in Glasgow that provides befriender dogs to veterans who desperately need them.”

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