Minto War Memorial

Set within his own hedged garden in the grounds of Minto Church stands a lone soldier. He wears the uniform of a Private, his wide-brimmed Brodie helmet tilted back to reveal a face full of bravery, trepidation, consternation. His rifle out in front, fixed with bayonet, the boy stands atop a pillar of stone, quarried from the nearby Minto Crags. A most striking memorial to the lives of the seven Minto men lost during the First World War, the statue was officially unveiled in September 1921 by none other than the notorious Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig. The Field Marshall said of the proceedings: “they were met to do honour to the memory of seven gallant men of their own stock, who left Minto Parish to fight for King and country during the Great War, and gave their lives to the most splendid of all causes.” It is believed that the gentle face of the young soldier was modelled on that of Lieutenant Esmond Elliot, the son of the 4th Earl of Minto who was killed near Ypres on 6th August 1917. Reputedly, the Countess of Minto had the memorial turned from its original position (facing Lieutenant Elliot’s home at Minto House) to instead face in the direction of Germany, for “a British soldier never turns his back on the enemy.” The statue was sculpted by Thomas J. Clapperton, a Galashiels man, whose other works included the Flodden Memorial in Selkirk, the Canonbie War Memorial, and the Jimmie Guthrie statue in Wilton Lodge Park.