Family’s tears as they visit war grave

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A family who travelled hundreds of miles to visit their uncle’s war grave have laid flowers by his headstone for the first time.

Alex Kilpatrick died on the battlefields of Holland when he was 28, just months before the end of the Second World War.

This month his three nieces and nephew took part in 70th anniversary commemorations, as the Dutch people paid tribute to the servicemen who died.

Sisters Christine Lukes and Margaret Cartwright this week spoke of their visit.

Christine said: ‘‘Even the organisers were in tears. It was very emotional.

‘‘I did not know they felt so strongly about it.

“They cried as they said ‘thank you for liberating us’ to the family members.’’

The three day visit included the chance to visit the forest where Kirkintilloch man Alex died, and also a larger war cemetery in Germany.

The family laid a poppy in the forest, with a tartan ribbon tied around it, and by Alex’s grave they placed a rose.

During the commemorations the people of Holland held various events to mark unity and peace, and paid equal respects to all nationalities who died during the Second World War.

This included Dutch children walking over a bridge which was a major battlesite, and returning with German children.

Christine added: ‘‘They renamed the bridge The Highlander Bridge in honour of the Scots soldiers.

“The organisers took Margaret across it as the first civilian.’’

The family laid a plaque with his photo and tributes from loved ones atAlex’s grave.

Christine said: ‘‘Now we know he is well looked after with other people around him and we know that there is something there to remind him of home.

‘‘A man, a stranger, came up to us and told us he will lay flowers on Uncle Alex’s grave three times a year.

“We have been so touched by how caring the people are.’’

Alex’s grave overlooks a school playground.

Christine added: ‘‘The local people told us that he would be able to hear the sound of children, playing and happy, and would know what they died for.”

She added: ‘‘It was a very worthwhile visit.

“Everyone went home with warm hearts, knowing our family members are looked after.”