AFTER last Saturday’s memorable RSNO concert at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, I set off down the Clyde coast to a B&B near Ayr South Beach to be handy for low tide on Remembrance Sunday. It was the nearest (and one of the earliest) of the venues for Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea, the nationwide event that was the culmination of the 14-18 NOW First World War centenary art commissions.

At half past eight the next morning I joined a growing number of people on the sand, where artists working with the National Theatre of Scotland were already at work creating the image of Second Lieutenant Walter Tull on a large expanse of dune. His story was only one of many being told across the UK to mark 100 years since the Armistice, but unlike Wilfred Owen, whose likeness was being created at Folkestone, or surgeon suffragette Elsie Inglis (St Andrews), or even the previously neglected Charles Hamilton Sorley (Findhorn Bay), who has been commemorated in music by Sir James MacMillan and a new play It Is Easy To Be Dead, Walter Tull’s story was entirely new to me.

Tull’s English mother and Barbadian father both died when he was a child and after being brought up in an orphanage, he signed to Tottenham Hotspur as a teenager and was poised to join Glasgow Rangers after the war, partly because his brother Edward had been adopted by a couple in Milngavie. Walter Tull volunteered for the footballer’s battalion of the 17th Middlesex regiment and so distinguished himself as a soldier at the battle of the Somme in 1916 that he was sent for officer training in Ayrshire after he had recovered from his injuries.

As Walter was blazing a trail as the British Army’s first black officer in command of white troops, so his brother Edward thrived in Scotland and became Britain’s first registered black dentist. Walter died in France at Arras during the last German offensive of the war in 1918 and his body was never recovered. On the beach at Ayr, however, I met descendants of Edward, who were understandably proud to see the family history gain wider currency.

But the stories that Boyle’s Pages of the Sea had chosen to tell were not the only ones to be found on Ayr Beach last Sunday. Alongside the huge sand portrait of Walter Tull, many were taking the opportunity to create their own relief silhouettes of soldiers and suffragists. With rakes, umbrellas, and walking sticks to turn over the sand, using the stencil templates provided, people brought their own narrative to those figures. Some were completed with the name of a relative lost in the Great War spelled out in the sand or on a label brought for the purpose. Others were adorned with a small piece of jewellery of personal significance. One smart rank of soldiers had been customised beyond the stencils with the drones of bagpipes visible above their shoulders.

Ayr does Remembrance Day with commitment every year, and pipers had marched with the band through the town to the act of Remembrance in Wellington Square. Many of those who had been on the beach at low tide saw the sea begin to wash away the image of Walter Tull before making their way to the civic event. In the drizzle, others remained on the beach and recited Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s The Wound in Time, composed for the occasion and distributed on cards to everyone, before both gatherings observed the two minute silence.

This year’s Remembrance of the 1918 Armistice was made memorable in very many ways, none of them in opposition. And far from drawing a centennial line under the annual anniversary as some feared, it may well turn out to have had a profound influence on public attitudes for years to come.