Poignant tribute to murdered soldiers

RELATIVES of three Scottish soldiers, lured to their deaths in one of the most infamous attacks of the Troubles, have attended a poignant memorial service in Belfast.

Dougald McCaughey, 23, from Glasgow along with teenage brothers John and Joseph McCaig, aged 17 and 18, from Ayr were gunned down by the IRA after being brought from a Belfast bar to the isolated White Brae off the Ligionel Road on March 9, 1971.

Dougald's cousin David said he could only bring himself to visit the lonely spot where his cousin was murdered for the first time in March of this year.

On Saturday, family members of the three soldiers held a private memorial service at the site of the atrocity. A number of veterans from the Royal Highland Fusiliers, who served with the soldiers, were also in attendance as a stone was placed in silent tribute on the quiet mountain road overlooking Belfast.

And yesterday a 15ft obelisk memorial – incorporating carved images of the deceased – was formally dedicated at Ballysillan Avenue followed by a parade of standards to a drumhead service of remembrance at Ballysillan leisure centre. The latter was attended by approximately 1,000 people.

Lord Mayor Naomi Long, North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds, senior members of the Royal British Legion (RBL) and personnel from ex-service associations were also in attendance.

Speaking to the News Letter afterwards, David McCaughey said the murders could have been even more horrific if Dougald's brother David who was also serving with the Royal Highland Fusiliers had been on the same night out as planned, but instead he had been kept back for guard duty at Palace Barracks that evening.

"I have been in Belfast over the last 20 years but never went up to that spot until this year," he said.

"This was also the first time I met the McCaig family, it was bad enough that we lost Dougald but to lose two and so young, it is so tragic.

"It was either the wireworks or the army for Dougald after his father died and he joined the army because he wanted to travel."

David also met the women who at the tender age of 15 had found the three soldiers lying dead after the murders.

"She told me it was something she will never, ever forget as long as she lives, seeing the three bodies piled up," he said.

"It makes me sick seeing republicans in top positions in government, it's the hypocrisy of it, there are certain individuals who would want this airbrushed from history but thanks to the good people of Northern Ireland and Scotland we will never let that happen."

The lasting tribute marks a dream realised for members of Oldpark/ Cavehill RBL, who along with the support of the Greater Shankill Community Council and Shankill Mirror, last year commissioned commemorative badges to fund the project.

The badges proved immensely popular with over 15,000 sold across the world.