Remembrance

Remembrance has long been an essential topic for Royal High School History.    The assembly hall at Regent Road had a portion at the South end devoted to Remembrance, while the Barnton campus has since 1968 devoted the majority of the Memorial stage to it.

This article will feature a number of former pupils whose heroics have been described in Schola Regia editions, during annual remembrance services, and in the digital history.   It will also include a number who for whatever reason have not been featured, including those who died in accidents.

1939 RHS Games Champion – James Lewis Gilmour

In both World Wars, many of the candidates were outstanding pupils, leaving school with prize honours, and as School and sports Captains.     Many others did not win honours, but served and in many cases gave their lives.

The article will also in due course describe the artefacts on display, including the War Memorials.

We will start with those names who will be included in this year’s Royal High School Remembrance video presentation, which is once again being shown as alternative to the services which took place prior to COVID.     The names include two School Captains, but also two young pupils who became victims of War

The pupils who are among the subjects of the 2021 School Remembrance video are James Lewis Gilmour, Thomas Sutherland Brotherstone, along with Billy Scott and Ronnie Sinclair.

James Lewis Gilmour

James Lewis Gilmour was School Captain in 1938-1939, Captain of rugby and Games Champion in 1938-39, and joined the Royal Scots as a private in 1940, before accepting a commission in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1941.    He was engaged to be married late in 1941, then returned on leave in January 1941 to be married.     He left almost immediately, his regiment being deployed to Egypt via the Cape, where he is recorded as being a visitor.    As a lieutenant he was active in the El Alamein campaign, tragically being killed in action on 25th October, 1942, aged just 21.     He kept a detailed scrapbook for most of his life, which affords us a very private view of his school, army and private life.     Click here for an extended article.

His epitaph surely has to be the beautiful poem engraved on his headstone in El Alamein:

  • The spot on which he fell
  • Might well disclose
  • That, where his body fell
  • A thistle grows

The extended article should be read in conjunction with the photo gallery shown below. Many of the images are reproduced from his scrapbooks. Click any of the images to enable a full-screen slideshow.

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Thomas Sutherland Brotherstone

Thomas Sutherland Brotherstone was Captain of School, Rugby and Cricket in 1931.

He was an International Rugby trialist in 1932 and 1933, played in the Inter-City (Edinburgh v Glasgow) matches in 1931-1934, and was a member of the winning RHS FP team at the 1934 Melrose sevens.    He was granted a commission as Acting Pilot Officer early in 1939, and in 1941 went to Canada to train as a bomber pilot, then as a Pilot trainer.  

He returned to UK in 1942, moving to Turnberry in Scotland in May 1942.    He was conducting a training session on 29th December 1944, when his Warwick bomber crashed at Prestwick airport.    Young trainee pilot Harry Holmes was killed at the site of the crash, while Thomas Brotherstone survived but died the next day.    His son, who was aged one at the time of father’s death, and his great-niece have contributed to the article.    His great-great niece is (as of 2021-22 session) a fourth-year pupil at the school. Click here for an extended article.

The extended article should be read in conjunction with the photo gallery shown below. Click any of the images to enable a full-screen slideshow.

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Billy Scott and Ronnie Sinclair

William Cunningham Howden Scott (Billy) and Ronald Moore Sinclair (Ronnie), second and third form pupils respectively in 1941, were killed in an accident on 20th April that year involving unexploded ordnance near Glencorse, a few miles south of Edinburgh.   The school’s reporting of the circumstances of the incident, while expressing sorrow for the tragedy, and sympathy for the grieving parents, was not otherwise flattering of the young men. Some might deem that inappropriate considering that their deaths would have been virtually impossible but for the advent of WW2.  The story came to light when Morningside cemetery volunteers noticed the close proximity of the headstones, the mention of ‘RHS’, and the lack of further explanation. They are buried alongside each other in Morningside cemetery.

Click any of the images below to enable a full-screen slideshow.

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The RHS digital History Remembrance article is available here