View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Remembering Today - 24 February

Today on this day during the First World War, these two men lost their lives in the service of King and Country. RIP.

Last address in Lewis: 34 Lower Shader,
Son of Donald and Peggy Macdonald, of Shader, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Mars
Service number: 3947/A
Date of death: 24 February 1919 at the age of 29
Influenza at home
Interred: Barvas Cemetery
Had been demobilised a few days before his death
Local memorial: North Lewis, Borve

Last address in Lewis: 26C Leurbost,
Son of Murdo and Mary Maciver, of 26, Lurebost, Lochs, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMT Recepto
Service number: 3242/B
Date of death: 24 February 1917 at the age of 38
Died of pneumonia after being rescued from mined ship
Interred: Crossbost Cemetery
Local memorial: North Lochs, Crossbost

Remembering Today - 23 February

On this day during the First World War, these two men lost their lives in the service of King and Country. RIP.


Last address in Lewis: 24 Vatisker,
Regiment or division: Seaforth Highlanders
Date of death: 23 February 1917
Killed in action
Lewis Memorial: Back

Last address in Lewis: 21 North Tolsta,
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve
Date of death: 23 February 1919 at the age of 21
Invalided home, died of illness after joining Fife Constabulary
Local memorial: North Tolsta

Tuesday 24 February

Pretty non-descript day in terms of weather; some brightness in amongst the clouds, and the mercury anchored firmly just below the 50F mark.

Bad news from the Cairngorm Mountains, 30 miles south of Inverness, this afternoon. The body of a man, thought to be that of a 48-year old hillwalker, missing since Sunday, has been found. A search, involving up to 90 people, had been on-going since Sunday for the Inverness banker, who had gone to the area to walk with his dog. The animal has not been found.

Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, has gone to the United States for a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He thereby beats Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, in visiting the new administration. Mr Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, has told Ms Clinton that Scotland is "yearning for freedom". The SNP came to power after a narrow victory in elections to the Scottish Parliament in May 2007. They advocate full independence for Scotland. Mr Salmond is a member of the Privy Council, which directly advises Queen Elizabeth - and Her Majesty is known to be rather disinclined towards having her United Kingdom split up.

In the nearly two years that Mr Salmond has been in power at Holyrood (the Scottish equivalent of Westminster for the UK), I have come to know him as a shrewd politician who thrives on conflict. Rather than talking to the UK Prime Minister, which is a most rare occurrence, Mr Salmond is content to snipe at Westminster and blaming them for all the woes of Scotland. The First Minister, from my perspective, can safely be described as blinkered, in that he jumps at anything containing the word Scotland.

The worst example goes back to August 2007, when he attended the unveiling of a statue in Helmsdale, Sutherland, which celebrates the departure of several hundred people for a new life across the sea, and the contribution the Scottish diaspora has made in places like Canada and Australia. Whilst wholeheartedly applauding and commending that undeniable contribution, I feel that Mr Salmond should also have condemned in the strongest possible terms the inhumane way in which people were kicked out of their homes in Strath Kildonan (near Helmsdale), Strathnaver, Skye and many other areas of the Western and Northern Highlands - to commence a new life elsewhere. No, we should not live in the past, absolutely true. But neither should we fail to learn from it, something that I do detect in the current climate at Holyrood. This is 2009. Not 1746.