Title picture: Ath Linne, 16 September 2014

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Friday 7 November

At this time of year, there is an increase in interest in my WW1 (and WW2) output, and tonight I found this very touching tribute to John Macarthur, late of 8 Cromore, who was lost on HMS Invincible during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.

"In loving memory of my Great Uncle John MacArthur, 8 Cromore, South Lochs. Who died so young for his country. 100 years has passed and we never had the opportunity as a family to have memory's of you. We are so very proud of you, and of all the men from the islands who give their lives. RIP. "

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Thursday 6 November

City Archives [Stadsarchief] Rotterdam recently unearthed this collection of photographs of internees at HMS Timbertown, Groningen, during the First World War. You can search for each of the internees and it should come out with a photograph. One note of caution: when searching for anyone with a surname commencing with Mac or Mc, you need to spell this as Mc., including the trailing period and followed by a space. Unfortunately, the Stadsarchief omitted the letter N from the word internment...

It's pretty wet and windy here this morning. Force 7 from the south-southeast. MV Loch Seaforth rounded Cape Wrath at 7.20 this morning, and is currently headed south-southwest past Stoer Head at 19 knots. She'll reach her destination, Greenock, by this time tomorrow morning. The ship passed Stornoway at a distance of about 6 miles, making its closest approach to Lewis near Milaid lighthouse, east of Lemreway.

I'll just repeat and expand my comment to one of my FB contacts about the performance of MV Loch Seaforth in a force 7, when the MV Isle of Lewis is sitting in port. One of the considerations in sailing a passenger ferry is not just whether it's safe for the ship, but also whether it's comfortable if not safe for the passengers. Earlier this week, the MV Isle of Lewis was cancelled, although the sun was out and it wasn't that windy. The northeasterly wind that day created very rough seas in the Minch, and you wouldn't want to be there. At present, MV Loch Seaforth is NOT carrying passengers, although I don't know how her new crockery is faring...

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Wednesday 5 November

MV Loch Seaforth is now headed northwest along the south coast of Norway. She is currently 30 miles west of Egersund, and I'm expecting her to turn west off Stavanger to commence the North Sea crossing towards the Pentland Firth. She will just about dodge tomorrow's high winds, until she is south of Stornoway.

Power went off at around 5.15, and came back on at 6.25. The whole town was dark, as the Battery Point powerstation went off. A few emergency lights here and there - otherwise utter darkness. The arc lights at the ferry terminal works only exacerbated things, and I nearly ran into someone walking the other way when I nipped round to Tesco to see what was doing there. Emergency lights, but all the customers had been sent away.

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Tuesday 4 November

MV Loch Seaforth is currently heading north down the Kattegat into the Skagerrak, west of Gothenburg. The vessel will head round the northern tip of Denmark, into the Skagerrak. Currently running at 12 knots, Loch Seaforth will pass into the North Sea by late morning. It will take her 24 hours to cross to the Pentland Firth, and will probably pass her future base, Stornoway, on Thursday evening - assuming her speed will be rather higher than the current 12 knots.

The sun has set on the 4th November day, weather wasn't too bad actually. The ferry was cancelled because the northeasterly wind whips up a bad swell. It was 2 hours late coming in at lunchtime.

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Monday 3 November

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Sunday 2 November

Stornoway Port Authority under fire as its chairman quits - over what? The SPA commissioner, leaking worse than the MV Pathfinder. A journalist, leaking the leaks is threatened with legal action, which could see his internet blog closed down. Appeals to report any misdeeds of SPA, however piffling, to the Scottish Government. Ever thought this was a quiet, sleepy little port, settling down to its annual period of hibernation until next Easter? Think again.
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Saturday 1 November

Dreadful day, lashing rain and strong winds. Nonetheless ventured out to Balallan on the bus, to view an exhibition by Kinloch Historical Society on WW1. My websites had been extensively used, which I was more than pleased to see. The exhibition will also be open next Saturday, 8 November, between 11 am and 3 pm in the old school / community centre, in the middle of Balallan - it's signposted along the main road.

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Kristallnacht - 76 years on




9 November 1938 - an organised mob of Nazi forces and sympathisers go on the rampage in towns and cities across Germany, smashing and destroying Jewish-owned property and businesses. It was to be a marker, to what was to come during World War II - the extermination of anyone deemed sub-human by the warped mind of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen. Jews topped their league of the unfit, closely followed by gypsies, the mentally ill and many many others. The Reichskristallnacht was a night of infamy, and not just to Germany.

For Hitler was allowed to get away with literally murder for several years beforehand. In 1936, he occupied the Rhineland which had been ceded to France at the end of the First World War. The League of Nations, a toothless talkingshop, cried wolf but had no bite. In March 1938, Nazi forces marched into Austria to join that country to Germany, an event referred to as the Anschluss. Neville Chamberlain flew to Munich to meet with Adolf Hitler on 30 September 1938, returning with the infamous phrase: "Peace for our time". Six weeks later, the Reichskristallnacht took place, a sign of ill omen. Only a few months later, Germany invaded the Sudetenland area of Czecho-Slovakia, and again, nobody moved a finger to stop. In September 1939, Hitler thought he could get away with the invasion of Poland. But instead, it prompted the outbreak of the Second World War.

The lights have gone out in Europe, it was said at the time. The lights in Europe were extinguished in 1914, and had not been relit, not even at the end of the First World War. The Versailles Peace Treaty of June 1919 contained all the ingredients for another war, which duly materialised.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Friday 31 October

Happy Halloween.

This evening, I attended the formal opening of the WW1 exhibition Gairm nan Gaidhael [Call of the Gael] at An Lanntair this evening. A piper led us out to the square, where a video was projected onto an outside wall. Back inside, and out of the rain, Mr Trevor Royle, historian, declared the exhibition open.

I viewed the exhibition earlier in the week, and would strongly recommend my local FB friends to have a look, until December 6th. The exhibition will move to Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre afterwards.

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Thursday 30 October

Morning all from a grey and at times wet Stornoway. We have southeasterly breezes and it's not warm: 8C / 46F.

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Wednesday 29 October

A calm day in Stornoway - don't hear that from me very often, do you? - with a lot of high-level cloud. This does not really screen the sun, but gives the sky an appearance of frosted glass. We're at 10C / 50F, not bad for late October.

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Tuesday 28 October

Brilliantly sunny morning, with westerly breeze. Temperatures went down low in the night, 3C, but at present hover around 8C / 46F.

A landslide closed the A835 Ullapool to Inverness road, some 100 yards north of the Garve Hotel. Road partially reopened later; there IS a diversion, north through the Ledmore Junction, adding 50 miles to the journey.

The bright morning has given way to a showery afternoon - see my pics with the rainbows across the Stornoway townscape. Still a lot more palatable than the rain and gloom of the last few days.

You won't have heard of tropical cyclone ‪Nilofar‬, which is nonetheless an impressive category 4 hurricane in the Arabian Sea, with maximum sustained winds of 115 knots (130 mph). The cyclone will intensify to 125 knots, before dry air from the nearby Asian continent will kill it off. It will make landfall in the border area between Pakistan and India at tropical storm strength by Thursday.

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Monday 27 October

Chilly morning, with no or little wind. Rain continuing unabated, it has caused major problems on the mainland. The A82 Glasgow to Inverness road has been blocked by a landslip near Fort William, forcing drivers into a 150 mile detour.

This morning, tropical disturbance 94L was given only a 10% chance to become a tropical cyclone. Four hours later, hey presto, here is tropical storm Hanna. She won't have long on this earth, as the coast looms only 35 miles away. Hanna started life as tropical depression 09L, which crossed the Gulf of Campeche, and succumbed inland over the Yucatan peninsula. And now she's back. Oh, Hanna will cross Nicaragua and into the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Which is already heading for its 21st named storm of the season. Meteorology is never boring.

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Sunday 26 October

Not a pleasant day, force 7 winds and persistent rain. The Highlands can look forward to a 4-8 inch (100-200 mm) dumping of rain over the next 24-48 hours.

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Saturday 25 October

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Getting windy, force 6 to 7. The ferry has been cancelled for the rest of the day, after it gets in at 1.30pm. Apart from the high winds, which are set to increase to force 8 later, and force 9 in the southern isles, it's not too bad a day. Sun's out, and there are a few showers about. 12C / 54F is pretty ordinary for late October. Very heavy showers coming through here at 4.30pm, wind a steady force 7 from the southwest.
By evening, the gale we had been warned about did not materialise. We've got a steady force 7 going, with some pretty good gusts. The wind will only gradually die down over the next 24 hours. The Highlands could get 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 mm) of rain this weekend.

Friday 24 October

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There was a hit-and-run accident on the Lochs Road, when a vehicle ran into a stationary line of traffic. Several vehicles were shunted into each other, but the culprit went off.
Otherwise, a nice bright day, with interesting cloudscapes. Continuing to add to the Centenary of Sacrifice website.

Thursday 23 October

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Quite a nice day, so went for a walk round the harbour. A new inscription was put on the blue part of the An Lanntair arts centre, and the Leverburgh lifeboat was on the Goat Island slipway. But how about today's cloudscapes!

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Wednesday 22 October

Wet and breezy this morning, and there will not be any let up in that until well after sundown tonight. Looking back at yesterday, we just had another autumnal gale, ferries were cancelled and it got rather cold. The fact that this blow was associated with a former hurricane led to a huge amount of media attention. Granted, you never know how these remnants can blow up into something nasty (remember Michael Fish in 1987?).

Been combining databases on WW1 casualties from ALL the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides, namely Lewis, Harris, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay. The pared-down result will appear on a dedicated site over the next five years. Each day when a man was known to have died 100 years before, he will be remembered in a posting. The first few postings are added retrospectively - the first casualty fell on 14 September 1914. There are 225 names whose date of death is not known to me, which I will include in dated postings.

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