One of the herbarium specimens of the ginger that became known as Roscoea humeana, collected by George Forrest in 1910.

One of the herbarium specimens of the ginger that became known as Roscoea humeana, collected by George Forrest in 1910.

In memory of Private David Hume, who was killed in action 100 years ago today, on the 26th August 1914, a few weeks short of his 26th birthday. (Some of the Army and Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s records state that Hume was killed on the 29th, some claim the 26th, and as our records also give the 26th as the date, we have opted for this one.)
At the time of the outbreak of the First World War Hume was a labourer at RBGE, having previously worked here as a probationer gardener before leaving in 1906 to join the Royal Scots. He would have been ‘on reserve’ when war was declared and therefore recalled immediately to join the British Expeditionary Forces (B.E.F.), the first troops to cross the English Channel to engage with the Germans in Belgium.
This initial engagement happened at the Battle of Mons on the 23rd August, most of which occurred along a 2.5km stretch of road between Mons and Harmignies. The Germans received heavy losses but eventually began to outflank the B.E.F. by making progress through Mons itself, so the British prepared to retreat towards the village of Le Cateau where on the 26th they took another stand against the Germans and were forced to continue their retreat in full view of the opposing soldiers. It is presumably during this stand or retreat that Hume lost his life, the first member of RBGE staff to be killed, only 22 days after the British declaration of war.
Hume is buried at the Bethencourt Communal Cemetery just north of Le Cateau, and is remembered on RBGE’s War Memorial, situated in the Reception of 20a Inverleith Row, and in a plant name, Roscoea humeana.
For more information on David Hume, please read “Hume and Fallow’s stories”.