PLANS have been unveiled to erect a national monument to the Scottish serviceman who died during the First World War.

A retired construction worker is gaining support at Holyrood for the memorial, which he hopes will be situated on the battlefields of France.

Ian Thomson, 72, has long campaigned for recognition of fallen Scots forgotten or marginalised.

He was a major driving force behind memorials at Calton Hill, Edinburgh, and the RAF tribute at the former Dallachy Airfield in Elgin.

And now Mr Thomson, from Airdrie, is hoping to raise funds to erect a monument to fallen Scots near the town of Arras, France — a battle-site known for massive Scottish casualties.

"This is truly important," he said. "Nowhere in the history of the war had been there been a larger concentration of Scots in a single military action.

"There were three Scottish divisions involved in the fighting there, with many other smaller regiments scattered throughout the other Canadian and British forces.

"They played a huge part in the success of the Arras offensive, which helped to turn the tide along the Western Front.

"I have visited the battlefields there and saw those memorials dedicated to the odd Scottish division or regiment but there is no single national commemoration.

"Many others such as Russia and Northern Ireland have very impressive dedications in the area but we do not. I think that is something that needs to be addressed and there is no better a place than Arras."

The total number of Scots lost in the First World War has been estimated between 75,000 and 100,000. About 26% of the Scots fighting force perished compared to the 11% average loss for the British forces.

Mr Thomson believes the contributions of Scottish servicemen is often overlooked. He added: "It is right that we remember the efforts of all those Scots who fought and died for their country.

"But the sheer number of Scottish serviceman who died during the First World War was disproportionate to our population — even the Prime Minister at one point said that we had paid a bigger price than anyone else.

"It's all very well that individual regiments are honoured with their own dedications, but I would like to do something for the entire nation to remember.

"I'm interested in all those who fought — the infantry, the sailors, the airmen - and if I had the ultimate say in it then there would be a place for the nurses and medical personnel also.

"This monument would commemorate a huge piece of Scottish history, and if I was able to help get this project off the ground then I would be the happiest man on this Earth."

Mr Thomson has already visited and been in contact with officials in Arras including the mayor to discuss the idea.

His proposals are backed by the Scottish Government. Following a meeting with Alex Salmond in 2011, the First Minister asked for parliamentary support.

The project has now received the backing of Richard Lyle, SNP MSP for Central Scotland, who is now hoping to establish a charitable trust for the memorial.

He said: "There are memorials that commemorate individual Scottish regiments, and I pay tribute to them, but there is not one that takes in the whole of the work done by the Scottish armed forces. That oversight should be corrected.

"I am hoping we will be able to hold a meeting at the Scottish Parliament soon, as I feel the proposal put forth by Mr Thomson is something we should be helping with."

Mr Lyle said he intended to establish a group to take the proposal forward and that he hoped to enlist the help of the Scottish people and the Scottish Government.

He added: "I believe we should never forget. We are entirely in the debt of those who gave their lives.

"And as the 100th anniversary of the First World War approaches, now is the time to honour all those Scots who fought and died to liberate Europe."