View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thursday 24 February

I gather that London reached 15C today (59F), but we had to make do with 11C. Still no reason at all for complaint if I'm honest. It was just very windy, with a steady force 7 and gusts to 50 mph. The overnight freight ferry is once more off tonight due to the adverse weather conditions.

I have been continuing my research into the Lewis graveyards and the WW1 casualties buried therein. And I've found quite a few errors in my files - just as well I'm finding them, let's be honest. The First World War has some dreadful statistics associated with it, some of which I've outlined in my local history blog Pentland Road.

Sixty-five years ago today, the German city of Dresden, in the southeast of the country, was severely bombed by Allied aircraft. It generated a firestorm, and thousands perished in the inferno. There has been quite some debate about the military imperative for this bombardment. It is suggested that Dresden very little military infrastructure, and General Haig, in charge of bomber command, has been accused of committing a war crime. Today's far right in Germany, not endowed with an excess of brain cells by the sound of it, say that Hitler was not to blame for WW2 and that he who fired the first shot did not start the war. What a load of garbage. The BBC's correspondent in Saxony has written a good piece on the issue, which I recommend for your reading.

Image courtesy

Wednesday 23 February

A very wet and miserable day. Although we had a bit of sun around lunchtime, it took until nearly sunset before the clouds finally broke. The wind is picking up, leading to the cancellation of our freight ferry, which departs here at 11.30pm.

I have been tallying up the number of gravestones of local servicemen who are mentioned on private gravestones, as opposed to the official CWGC stones that I have focused on in the past. The number of the former stands at 123. I also found that 600 of Lewis's 1300 wardead from the First War have no known grave; half of them perished at sea; others disappeared into the mire of France and Flanders.

The campaign to save the coastguard service in the UK is progressing, and next week there will be a meeting here in Stornoway. Representatives from the MCA will come to the Nicolson Institute to answer questions from the general public, and boy, will that be a lively session.

The situation in Libya is just plain awful, exacerbated by the apparent lassitude from the UK government to get themselves into gear to extract UK nationals. And searches continue for survivors from the NZ earthquake, with the deathtoll rising to nearly 100.