ONCE standing at the top of Mar Street in Alloa was the South Africa War Memorial in honour of the men of the town who were either killed in action, died from wounds or succumbed to disease.

The war, also known as the Second Boer War, broke out on 11th October 1899 and lasted until the Peace of Vereeniging was signed on 31st May 1902.

It was fought between the British Empire and the two states of South Africa, which was also known as the Transvaal, and the Orange Free State over full equality for British citizens who had flocked there when gold had been discovered.

In the end the British annexed both states and effectively won the war.

The memorial was unveiled by Walter John Francis Erskine, the Earl of Mar and Kellie, and Lord Lieutenant of the county on Saturday 9th April 1904 in stormy conditions in front of a large crowd.

The monument consists of an ashlar pedestal on a square base and carved with the heraldic shield of Alloa It is surmounted by a kilted soldier with his hand on a revolver as he stands over one of his wounded colleagues.

In total it is over 22 feet high with the soldier measuring 8 feet 6 inches. Sir Robert S. Lorimer was the designer and it was sculpted by W. B. Birnie Rind of Edinburgh.

Both men were praised for their design, especially the depiction of the faces of the men. On one side of it are engraved the names of those who died on a bronze plaque.

The cost of the memorial came to just under £410 and was funded by public subscription, although two prominent people from Alloa offered to pay any deficit should the funds fall short.

A large detachment of Volunteers under Colonel King formed the guard of honour that wet Saturday and amongst those present were Violet, Countess of Mar and Kellie, George Younger, the convener of the county, and provosts from Alloa, Alva and Tillicoultry.

The Rev Murray who acted as the Sauchie Volunteers chaplain read out the 121st Psalm which was also sung by the crowd, and music was played by the Rifle Volunteer Band of Alva.

A prayer was said by the local minister L. McLean Watt then the monument was unveiled by the Earl of Mar.

Following this Colonel King of the 7th Volunteer Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders read out the names of those who had perished in the war and buglers sounded the Last Post

ELEVEN names are inscribed on Boer War memorial in Alloa.

These are Lieutenant Harold Paton of the Protectorate Regiment, Second Lieutenant Edward J, Younger of the 16th Queen’s Hussars, and Privates William W. A. Miller of the Transvaal Constabulary, Frank Lynn of the 2nd Dragoons, Robert Johnstone of the 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers, David McGregor of the Highland Light Infantry and John Wright of the 2nd Battalion Royal Highlanders. Sergeant Piper Robert Watt of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, trooper John W Hastings of the Kimberly Light Horse, and Lance-corporals R. H. Alson Hunter of the 18th Hussars and David M. Stirling of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders complete the list.

Paton, Younger, Lynne, McGregor and Hastings were all killed in action while Hunter, Johnstone and Wright died from their wounds. The rest succumbed to disease.

The Earl of Mar handed over the memorial into the care of the provost, the town magistrates and the council.

In his speech he said the monument was a token of the town’s pride, gratitude and affection ‘for those natives of our county who have fought and died so nobly in defence of their country’s honour.’

The inscription on the memorial is ‘South Africa 1899-1902,’ which although simple, ‘speaks volumes,’ he continued.

He described the Boer War years as strenuous, disappointing, anxious and finally triumphant and stated, ‘We feel some pride that this small community in the centre of Scotland was not backward in answering the call of duty.’

Towards the end of his speech, he said that if in the ‘near or distant future, I doubt not that the same spirit of self-sacrifice and patriotism will be shown in no diminished degree.’ Twelve years later World War I broke out.

The provost of Alloa Archibald T. Arrol told the crowd there was a degree of regret that a cause had arisen for its construction.

He said the men had laid down their lives not just for liberty and the rights of their fellow countrymen but ‘the black man should be free from bondage.’

He went on to call the soldiers ‘brave sons’ and that the monument was a living representation of their valour. Although Arrol’s son had returned from the war he told the crowd of his sadness at the loss of the men, who were all buried in South Africa.

Finally, he swore an oath stating the council would guard and keep the monument with ‘jealous care.’

It was Category B listed by Historic Environment Scotland on 23rd June 1999 and now stands in Claremont close to the Town Hall.