Memorial to a fallen soldier

A small group of old soldiers, family friends and other guests gathered at The Burn, Edzell last week on the anniversary of the death of a local boy who died during World War Two.

They were there to plant an Italian Cypress tree in his memory - a fitting memorial as James died in Italy.

Lieutenant James Russell, who grew up at The Burn, was killed in action during the Italian Campaign 70 years ago on July 24, 1944. James was the son of George and Marjorie Russell.

After the war, Mr and Mrs Russell decided they could no longer bear to live at the house where their beloved son and his sister grew up and decided to use the house for a purpose that would a fitting memorial to James and the house became an academic retreat.

Speaking at the tree planting ceremony the current bursar of The Burn, Mr David Turner said that everyone present could appreciate the huge sense of loss suffered by his parents, family and friends.

“Yet from this tragedy was created the wonderful lasting legacy that is The Burn,” said Mr Turner.

“Today is a day of mixed emotions but in remembering James I would encourage you all to focus on the positives. James may not have lived to reach his full potential but in recognising his sacrifice, his parents have helped many thousands of students to achieve their own goals and objectives.”

Mr Turner said that they were attracting more and more university groups and students that went to The Burn seemed to enjoy the experience.

“I often wonder what George and Marjorie Russell would think and whether they would approve of what we are doing at The Burn.

“We are here to mark this occasion with the planting of a tree. The tree itself is an Italian Cypress, which not only serves as a representation of the Italian Campaign but has a vertical habit and will stand tall as a soldier - a sentinel to Burn House.”

Mr Turner said that John Smart had been invited to perform the planting ceremony as not only was he the former Lord Lieutenant of Kincardine but had met James Russell when they were young men at a tennis party at The Burn in 1939.