View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Danish connection

This evening, I found a comment, made on one of my local history sites by a Danish man who had visited the Outer Hebrides. Upon crossing North Uist, he visited the cemetery of Clachan Sands, about 6 miles west of Lochmaddy on the road to Berneray. I visited that graveyard in July 2009 and photographed the gravestone of Ewen Nicholson, who was lost during the First World War. An image of the actual gravestone in the Railway Dugouts Cemetery can be viewed on this link.

My Danish correspondent researched the fate of Ewen, displaying some very graphic and gruesome images of conditions on the frontline. I have looked into Ewen Nicholson's information and came out with the following:

Ewen Nicholson
Born: Grimsay, North Uist
Date of birth: 29 May 1892
Trade / calling: Labourer
Married: No
Volunteered at Valcartier on 23 September 1914
Age upon enlistment: 22 years 4 months
Height: 5 ft 10¼ in
Complexion: fresh
Eyes: light brown
Hair: brown
Religious denomination: presbyterian

Son of Alexander and Ann Nicholson, of Grimsay, Lochmaddy, North Uist.
Last known address in North Uist: 4 Aird nan Sruban Grimsay
Military unit: 7th Canadian Infantry (British Columbia Regiment)
Service number: 21065
Date of death: 3 June 1916 at the age of 24
Interred: Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, Sp Mem G. 29

In 1901, Ewen was 8 years old. His father Alexander was a crofter, 41 years of age, married to Ann. There were four other children in the family: Mary (12), John Archie (10), Alexander (5) and Andrew John Macalpine, age 1 month.

Five days after his 24th birthday, Ewen lost his life in fierce battles near Ypres. He was buried in one of the many cemeteries around the town.

Saturday 28 July

A fairly bright day, but with the odd shower or two. Went to the local supermarket, which has decided on a major overhaul in the middle of the busiest time of the year. You know the routine: swap everything round to different aisles so you spend double the amount of time looking for everything. We are getting self-service check-out things. What on earth for, I am asking myself. I mean, we have about 15 tills in that shop and it's not as if it is supposed to serve the whole of Edinburgh or a place of like size.

The local seagulls decided to descend on my part of town and congregate on the seawall across the road. As you can see, the tide is going out, leaving all sorts of juicy tidbits for the gulls.

On the maritime theme, we also had a small freighter in - it came in late last night and is discharging - well, actually I don't know what it carries. Probably something like coal.

I have been looking at the problems that I have been experiencing with Firefox; at times it grinds to a complete halt. It appears that the latest version of the Flash player (11.3) clashes with FF. It is recommended to uninstall version 11.3 and install version 10.3. A switch to Google Chrome appeared appealing, but it has some glitches that bug me when copying blogposts; I do that several times a day, particularly when doing the hurricane updates. So, I'm back on Firefox and much happier.

Friday 27 July

A very wet afternoon, which dumped 17 mm of rain on the island, followed by a much nicer afternoon. Our rainfall deficit is gradually declining. More rain is in the forecast.

Olympic Games starting off today, and I find the wall-to-wall coverage on the BBC a bit much, to be honest. The rest of the news is drowned out, and I have to resort to the Internet to keep up-to-date with other events that are on-going at the moment. I watched the Opening Ceremony, from 9pm until 1 am, live on television. Curmudgeonly me was fairly impressed with the depiction of British life, some of the musical performances and very impressed with the way the cauldron was constructed by the participating teams, each carrying a part of the burner.

The crisis in the local fishing industry appears to have been averted after boats from the east coast of Scotland were banned from fishing for prawns in our west coast waters. Following a dearth of prawns in the east, fishermen from that part of Scotland came to the Minch to get their catch. A fishing ban would have deprived the local fleet of an income and would also have had major ramifications for the fish processors.