Major William F.
Francis Beattie (1888–1918) sculptor, was born in Hawick, the only
son of sculptor Thomas and Annie. His father moved the family to
Hawick and he was educated at George Watson’s and then attended the
Edinburgh College of Art, where he eventually became a member of
staff. He also joined the Brunstane Rugby Club and Portobello
Amateur Rowing Club. In 1910 he joined the Lothian And Border Horse
volunteer regiment. He set up business for himself as a sculptor in
Edinburgh. In 1913 this young Hawick sculptor received a commission
from his home town to produce a monument to commemorate the
four-hundredth anniversary of the skirmish at Hornshole, during
which a band of young Hawick Callants routed a troop of English
horsemen and stole their flag.
On June 4, 1914, William's 1514 Memorial (or 'The 'Horse' as it is
more commonly known) was unveiled and
Mr Peter Scott, the managing director
of 'Pescos', said to the gathered crowd of thousands that: "Mr
Beattie had placed them under the deepest obligation by the
wonderfully appropriate design of the statue, it was the inspiration
of a true born Teri. In their young sculptor they had one who was a
credit to his father and his native town, a Teri in spirit as well
as in name."
He went on to predict that William Beattie "was a young man with
a great future before him and at no distant time would no doubt be
one of Hawick's most distinguished sons."
Two months after the unveiling, the Great War broke out in Europe.
William joined the artillery and was awarded the Military Cross for
bravery in carrying wounded soldiers despite being under heavy
shellfire. In 1918, he was badly gassed and spent more than five
months convalescing back in Britain. He made a slow but steady
recovery and rejoined his unit in September 1918. But, just two
weeks later, William was fatally wounded in action and died at a
casualty clearing station in France on October 3, 1918. It was only
five weeks until the end of the war.
In 1921, fully seven years after its unveiling, Thomas Beattie
returned to complete the final details on his son's '1514' memorial,
work which had been interrupted by the outbreak of war. With the
skill of a master craftsman and the love of a bereaved father, he
carved the words: 'Sculptor Major William F. Beattie MC RFA, a
native of Hawick, born 1886, killed in France 1918'. Fate had
decreed that William Beattie was never destined to become one of
Hawick's most distinguished sons as Mr Peter Scott had predicted.
Instead, William joined the ranks of the fallen in that doomed
generation – nearly 1,000 men perishing from the local area alone.
In death, William's 'Horse' monument became both a commemoration of
Hawick's old victory and a symbol of our more recent loss. It is a
contradiction, a celebration of the perceived pre-1914 view of war
as being honourable and glorious set against the realisation that
there is no greater folly known to man than war. In France,
William's parents had a simple, but wholly appropriate and moving
inscription carved into his headstone: 'Teribus'.
Maj. William F. Beattie was a member of the Hawick Lodge No. 111 and
shortly before his death he was made a life member of the Lodge. His
name is commemorated in the Lodge room on the West Wall War
Maj. Beattie’s family donated his medals which are displayed in a
cabinet and also his sword to the Lodge, the sword is used to this
day by the Lodge Tyler who incidentally is called Willie Beattie!
History of Hawick Lodge 111 – PM A. Burgon. 1994
Hawick Word Book – Douglas Scott. Version 2013.
'All These Fine
Fellows - Hawick and The Great War 1914 - 1918' - Derek Robertson.
The Hawick News.