THE culmination of a project set up to tell the stories of Helensburgh’s First World War saw the launch of a 328-page book in the town last Saturday.

The Helensburgh War Memorial Families Project set out to find out about, and document the lives of, the 206 World War One fallen who are named on the A Listed memorial in Hermitage Park.

The project, led by the Friends of Hermitage Park, has resulted in the creation of a biography for each of the 205 men and one woman named on the cenotaph.

The research project was funded by the National Lottery ‘World War One: Then and Now’ programme, and was completed at the end of 2020.

The project’s website was launched at Armistice 2020, and 306 crosses for all the WW1 and WW2 fallen were placed at the memorial as no service was held.

However, Covid restrictions meant that the book could not be launched until now.

READ MORE: Helensburgh remembers: Silent tributes to the fallen at town ser vice

The small team of Ann Stewart, Moira Griffiths-Cunningham and Jim Chestnut, who built the website, and Fiona Baker were pleased to finally be able to release the book, which they describe as their honour to the town’s WW1 fallen.

Fiona, the editor of the book, said: “While the website is invaluable as people can easily search for information online, and it can be updated with any new information that comes forward, we hope the high quality book is a fitting memorial.”

The event started with a short ceremony at the War Memorial in beautiful sunshine, which began with Colin Lawrie playing The Battle of the Somme, a pipe tune composed by his ancestral cousin, Pipe Major William Lawrie on that battlefield in July 1916.

Fiona placed the book, dedicated to the memory and sacrifice of Helensburgh’s fallen, on the altar at the memorial, on which it says, ‘Let those who come after see to it that their names are not forgotten’.

Alison Holliman, secretary of the Friends, gave a very moving reading of John McCrae’s famous poem, In Flanders Fields, followed by The Exhortation and a minute’s silence.

Dr Bob Low then played a beautiful and haunting lament he had composed especially for the occasion, Salute to Helensburgh’s Fallen.

READ MORE: Navy serves up Remembrance brunch to Trust members in Garelochhe ad

Bob, his brother John, and Colin then piped the guests to the Victoria Halls for a reception.

Guests at the event included Jill Young MBE, the Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire; vice-Lord Lieutenant Linda Moffat and her now-retired predecessor Gill Aitkenhead; Commodore Bob Anstey, commanding officer of HM Naval Base Clyde; Brendan O’Hara MP; Dennis Jones, president of the newly-reformed Helensburgh branch of the Royal British Legion; colonels of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; representatives of Helensburgh’s churches; local councillors Aileen Morton and Lorna Douglas; and members of the Friends – though the most important guests were the families of those named on the memorial.

An exhibition about the project, a DVD of the book and a pamphlet guide ‘Helensburgh War Memorial and Hermitage Park in World War One’ were also presented. After a short film telling the story of the War Memorial, a letter from a Corporal of 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders written after the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915 was read with great sensitivity by Graham Hill.

The guests had time to view the book and exhibition before a buffet lunch was provided by Jamie Nicolson of the Park Pavilion Café.

The exhibition and book will be on display in Helensburgh Library and the book will be on permanent display at the Library and Hermitage Park Pavilion, and on temporary display at Destination Helensburgh. The book is a limited edition that is not for sale, but copies will be presented to all local churches and schools as well as to national libraries and archives.

The pamphlet guidebook is available for a donation of £2.50 at the Park Pavilion, Destination Helensburgh and Helensburgh Library, with all proceeds going towards the ongoing restoration of the memorial garden.