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Leafing through history: Wreath made from war hero’s tree

James McCabes ancestor of David McCabe who died at Passchendaele but sent over some saplings that still survives today (Sunday Post)
James McCabes ancestor of David McCabe who died at Passchendaele but sent over some saplings that still survives today (Sunday Post)

IT grows in a quiet corner of Scotland, where people can stop under its boughs to rest and contemplate.

But the 100-year-old spruce on the beautiful Abercairny Estate near Crieff, Perthshire, hides a secret.

It was grown from a sapling sent back from the Western Front by soldier David McCabe.

Now The Sunday Post can reveal a wreath made from the tree’s cones has been laid on McCabe’s grave in France by Black Watch members as part of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the First World War’s most bloody encounters.

McCabe sent “a small parcel of trees” he dug from the battlefield back to Scotland which his father planted.

One survives. McCabe’s great-nephew James, 70, of Crieff, was sifting through family memorabilia when he discovered the forgotten story.

“He was wounded in France in 1915 and that is when he sent the saplings back to Crieff,” he said of his uncle, who died three days after being injured in 1917. “It is amazing that one of the trees is still going strong after more than a century.”

Next Sunday, Crieff will play host to a parade to mark the battle’s anniversary.

There were an estimated 250,000 British casualties at the “Battle of Mud”, including about 160 from the Crieff area.

Kevin Gray, Legion Scotland chief executive, said: “This is a great opportunity to bring a community together for a day of real commemoration.”