View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 8 November 2015

NaBloPoMo - Remembrance Sunday (day #8)

Remembrance Sunday is upon us once more. Although none of the combatants who fought in the First World War now remain alive, there are still some very elderly veterans left who saw action in the Second World War. Their numbers dwindle year by year, until they too follow their comrades who fell in action between 1939 and 1945. The final bell will most likely toll some time in the 2030s.

Here in Lewis, the focus is heavily on commemorating the Fallen of the First World War. I have often quoted the figures, and I'll do so again.

Population in 1911: 30,000
Total signed up for active service: 6,200
Total number who died as a direct consequence of the war: 1,300

Of those 1,300, about 180 died when their transport, HMY Iolaire, sank outside Stornoway Harbour in the early hours of 1 January 1919. I refer to this list for names and details. The impact of these losses is reflected in the island's 17 war memorials. Apart from the main one at Stornoway, memorials are located at Garrabost (Point), Melbost, Back, North Tolsta, Cross (Ness), Borve (Shader to Galson), Barvas (under construction), Bragar (Arnol to Shawbost), Carloway, Tolsta Chaolais, Callanish, Great Bernera, Timsgarry (Uig), Kershader (Pairc), Laxay (Balallan to Keose) and Crossbost (North Lochs).

I do not seek to belittle the sacrifice made by men from other islands in the Outer Hebrides - Harris, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay. Information here.