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Black Watch statue unveiled in Belgium

A statue of a Black Watch soldier, which was made in Scotland, has been unveiled in Belgium as part of events to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The bronze sculpture commemorates the 8,960 Black Watch officers and soldiers who died and more than 20,000 who were wounded during the war.

Around 300 serving soldiers, cadets and veterans from the regiment travelled to see it being dedicated at Black Watch Corner near Ypres today.

The statue, sculpted by Alan Herriot, is of a Black Watch sergeant in First World War fighting uniform of kilt, jacket and bonnet with his Lee Enfield rifle and 18-inch bayonet.

Senior officials from the Black Watch Association gathered at the Powderhall Foundry in Edinburgh last month to see the statue before it set off to Belgium.

The statue unveiling is the first Scottish event in the centenary commemorations of the war, the association said.

It is to be cared for by people from the town of Zonnebeke, who organised a weekend programme of events around the unveiling, with a reception and military tattoo.

The area was chosen because of its resonance for the regiment.

Colonel Alex Murdoch, chairman of the Black Watch Association, said last month: ''The site chosen for the statue has been known as Black Watch Corner since the remnants of our 1st battalion took part in a successful defensive action. Along with other withdrawing British forces, they fought against a numerically stronger force from the Kaiser's Prussian Guard in November 1914.

''This action brought to an end the first battle of Ypres and their heroic stand was to prove decisive because it stopped the German advance to the coast. If they had broken through to the coast, the war would have been over and lost. It seemed the most appropriate place to erect our monument to the fallen.''

Sculptor Herriot said: ''It has been a pleasure and an honour to work on this commission alongside the Black Watch Association.

''My passion for the project has thankfully resulted in a fitting memorial to almost 9,000 men from the Black Watch who gave their lives in the Great War.''

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