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Major William Francis Beattie, M.C., R.F.A., (1886-1918) - Sir William Wallace

Patinated bronze. Standing figure of Scottish national hero Sir William Wallace on black marble socle base. Height of bronze 55cm.
 
Sir William Wallace (c1270-1305) made his first mark upon history when he killed William Heselrig, the English Sheriff of Lanark. Gathering men around him as his rebellion against English authority gathered momentum, Wallace's greatest victory came at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. This 1297 rout of a larger English force brought Wallace to national prominence. However, the Scots fought under the command of Andrew Murray, rather than the unproven Wallace. Murray's death in the battle left the credit to Wallace. The battle of Falkirk, the next year, saw Wallace in sole command of Scottish forces. His use of 'schiltrons', or dense formations of troops, failed to repel the English cavalry and the Scots were defeated, taking heavy losses. This defeat forced Wallace to resign the Guardianship of Scotland that he had been awarded after Stirling Bridge. As the rebellion continued, the Scottish nobility decided in increasing numbers to look for a compromise with Edward I of England. Failure to obtain an alliance with France against the English led Robert the Bruce to reconcile with the English king in 1302.

Wallace's refusal to brook any compromise with the English began to look increasingly isolated and exposed. Edward declared Wallace an outlaw and traitor. He could now be killed without consequence and harbouring him became an act of treason. He was captured at Robroyston, near Glasgow, and handed over to the English by Sir John Menteith. Wallace was taken to London and dragged to the execution place, hung, drawn and quartered. For 'threatening the English monasteries', his entrails were burnt before his eyes. His head was mounted on traitors gate and the pieces of his body were sent to Newcastle, Berwick, Perth and Stirling. The swift rise to power of Robert the Bruce after this, and his coronation as an independent King of Scotland, helped to seal Wallace's reputation as a patriot and martyr.

Major William Francis Beattie, M.C., R.F.A., (1886-1918) was a promising Scottish sculptor killed in the closing weeks of the First World War. He was born in Hawick in the Scottish Borders and is best known for the town’s equestrian memorial the ‘Horse’ which was commissioned to commemorate the Hawick men killed in a skirmish at Hornshole in the aftermath Battle of Flodden (1514). As with the present bronze of William Wallace, it commemorates Scots’ resistance to the English. It takes the form of a battle weary horse ridden by a Hawick youth holding aloft the pennon taken from the English raiding party. A replica of this flag is carried by a young unmarried male (the Cornet) during the annual Common Riding celebrations. It is Beattie’s only public work and was unveiled in June 1914 by Lady Sybil Scott, daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch. The 'Horse' monument subsequently became both a commemoration of Hawick's old victory and a symbol of its Great War loss.

Beattie was educated at George Watson’s Academy and the Edinburgh School of Art. He specialised in privately commissioned figurative work. In 1910 he joined the Yeomanry as trooper in the Lothian and Border Horse, and as a Territorial Army soldier was called to full time service in August 1914. Frustated by home service, he accelerated his arrival on the Western Front by taking a commission in the Royal Field Artillery in April 1915. He subsequently fought at Loos and on the Somme and won the Military Cross in November 1917 for bringing in two wounded men under shellfire during the Second Battle of Passchendaele.  He was gassed during the German Spring Offensive in April 1918 and rejoined his unit in September 1918. Promoted Acting Major, he was mortally wounded two weeks later and died at a field hospital near Joncourt. He is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery near Peronne, Somme.

 

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