View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Lewismen in Canadian service

I have compiled a new website, entitled as per header of this post. It shows information on 134 men from the Isle of Lewis who entered military service during the First World War as part of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. They fought on the Western Front in Belgium and France.

You may remember my main tribute site for WW1 casualties from Lewis, Faces from the Lewis War MemorialI have extracted those men who are marked as Canadians, and tracked down their details on the website of Library & Archives Canada. LAC have scanned the attestation (registration) forms of all 600,000 Canadian men who volunteered or were drafted into service during WW1. Apart from those that died, I am also tracing the 420 Lewismen who served as Canadians, but survived. It is startling to see the rate of volunteering dropping off during 1916, and compulsory military service being introduced in 1917. This leads to men absconding after being served their papers, being arrested and taken to their barracks. Some abscond and never return, and are marked as taken off the force.

The details on the attestation forms are quite personal, as shown on the front and back pages of this attestation of a man from Skigersta, Ness. Angus Morrison had emigrated to Victoria, on Vancouver Island, but volunteered to join up in 1915. He died in action two years later.

This poster says it all. On the flag are the names of battles where many died. And (as a consequence) they want more men to join up.

Picture post

Dandelions galore

Cruiseliner Funchal outside Stornoway on 6 May

11.20pm on 6 May

Sunday 9 May

Bright and fairly sunny in the Outer Hebrides this morning, although I can see a threat of showers. What is not just a threat is the cloud of volcanic ash, which has closed several airports, including Stornoway's, in the north of Scotland. Even more disruption is currently being experienced in southern Europe, where airports in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Switzerland have been closed. Another natural disaster has struck Sumatra in Indonesia, where a magnitude 7.4 quake hit the Aceh region in the north of that island.

I am currently tracing details for 560 men from the Isle of Lewis who signed up for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War. Some 140 of them did not survive the conflict, and are remembered on the Faces from the Lewis War Memorial website. The details include descriptions of eye- and haircolour, as well as their last place of residence in Canada. It is possible to track these addresses using Google Streetview, which adds a sense of poignancy.