Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Further links

My probings into local history have progressed further in recent months, and I’m copying a stack of links into this post. I am most endebted to those who were willing to assist me, on island and off - and particularly the patient staff at Stornoway library who, for a while, were loading microfilms for me onto that temperamental machine at the back on a daily basis. A special mention is deserving for Direcleit, a blogger with family links to the Long Island, who has been very patient with me whilst I was tagging along for some of the way, learning additional research skills.

First World War
Faces from the Lewis War Memorial - lists the casualties from the Isle of Lewis
Tributes for the Lewis War Memorial - transcriptions from the Stornoway Gazette
Iolaire Disaster 1919 - lists the casualties and survivors of the sinking of HMY Iolaire
Lewismen in Canadian service - lists all those from the Isle of Lewis known to have served in the CEF
Wargraves in Lewis - shows the wargraves, and war-related private graves in Lewis cemeteries
Isle of Lewis War Memorials - shows the war memorials in Lewis and transcriptions
Roll of Honour - lists all those who served (and died) from Lewis
Lewismen from the 2nd Seaforths - lists those who served with the 2nd Seaforth with transcripts from the war diary of that regiment
Lewismen at HMS Timbertown - islanders interned at Groningen, Holland
Other islands
Harris War Memorial (WW1 and WW2)
Berneray to Vatersay Tribute (WW1 and WW2, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay and Barra)
Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery (pictures and information on all the casualties buried in that cemetery in Orkney)

Second World War
World War II casualties from Lewis

Reports from the Napier Commission
Transcriptions of the 1883 Napier Report
Napier Commission in the Outer Hebrides
Napier Commission in the Isle of Skye
Napier Commission in Orkney
Napier Commission in Shetland
Napier Commission in Sutherland
Napier Commission in Ross-shire [work in progress]
Lewis and Harris witnesses to the Napier Commission

Local history blog
Pentland Road

Monday, 25 April 2011

The ferry and the tanker

Just before 1pm today, I watched the fuels tanker Solway Fisher coming into port. About 15 minutes later, she was seen leaving again. Checking the local AIS, the reason why became clear.

The blue blip is the ferry, Isle of Lewis, which is coming into for its customary lunchtime call. I am told that it is not permissible for a tanker to be discharging whilst the ferry is also discharging and embarking passengers, only a few dozen feet away. I’m expecting the tanker to return to its intended berth alongside pier no 2 after the ferry has left again, shortly before 2pm.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


The much vaunted roadworks have finally started, and it’s thrown Stornoway into a right old tizz. Sandwick Road is closed to people wanting to go to Point and the airport. Now I could be rude and say something nasty about the desirability of going to anywhere east of the town, but that isn’t nice. I’ll instead be my usual sarcastical self about the roadworks themselves.

One bright Monday evening saw this sign affixed to a lamppost in Newton, along one of the diversionary routes. Upon going down Newton Street, traffic has to turn left into Island Road to rejoin Sandwick Road a quarter of a mile further north.

Fortunately, they came round two hours later and put up a proper “Turn left” sign.
Another diversion leads up Matheson Road to Goathill Road and down Smith Avenue. Resurfacing work has turned the last road into a bit of a bumpy track, and there have been dire warnings of traffic gridlock. Apart from the lorries squeezing themselves through Newton, I’ve seen little evidence of it.
At the James Street end of Sandwick Road
Along Sandwick Road, near the Council Offices

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Lewis chessmen

Thirty of the famous Lewis Chessmen are currently on display in the Museum of the Isles on Francis Street in Stornoway. The figurines, cut from ivory in the 12th century, were unearthed in 1831 at Ardroil; a competing school of thought places the original location of the find at Mealista, 6 miles to the southwest. The exhibition will remain at the Museum until September 12th. On the 13th of that month, a small number of figurines will be on display at Uig Museum in Timsgarry. The most noteworthy feature of the Chessmen for me was their size. Only a smidgen over 3 inches tall. I sought permission from Museum staff before taking some of the below pictures.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


Scottish Parliament elections will be held on May 5th. The race in the Western Isles is comical.
  • One party’s candidate has been emasculated as that party wants to end RET.
  • One party’s candidate has been emasculated as that party is heading for oblivion on a national level
  • One party’s candidate has been emasculated as that party is at loggerheads with its candidate’s pledges
  • One party’s candidate wants to be canvassed by the voters.
  • One party’s candidate serves as a vote divider between the two main parties in contention
I leave it to you, my esteemed readers, to work out which is which.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

War crimes: apologies sought - 265 years later

I could not believe my eyes when this article appeared on the BBC News website. It says that members of a secret society, called A Circle of Gentlemen, aims to march from Derby to London to petition 10 Downing Street for a state apology for alleged war crimes, committed following the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

It is a matter of historical record that atrocities were committed by Hanoverian forces after Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s defeat at this battle, fought near Inverness, in April 1746.
In my personal opinion, I do not feel that it serves any useful purpose to hark back to an awful event, which occurred 265 years ago. Nothing that happened since will be changed by a state apology, and neither will any state policy towards the Highlands and Islands be altered as a result.

I think it is rather more pertinent that an apology be sought over the Battle of the Boyne, of 1689, the repercussions of which include the euphemistically called Troubles in Northern Ireland. Is anyone going to go to The Hague, Netherlands, to demand an apology from Queen Beatrix for the misdeeds resulting from the actions of one of her predecessors, 322 years ago? And is anyone going to go to Ankara to seek contrition from the Turkish government over the battle of Kosovo in 1389, as a result of which a bloody civil war was fought in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s?

In recent years, the government of Australia has apologised to the Aborigine population of that nation, for the way they had been treated until very recently. From now on, this should result in the Aborigines being treated in the same way as everybody else in Australia. That is a positive, constructive result from that apology. I see no constructive outcome of any apology for Culloden. It’s too long ago, and I have pointed out the two other historical examples to highlight the dangers of living in the past.
Furthermore, to really put the cat amongst the pigeons (but longtime readers of this blog will be familiar with that attitude), I think that Bonnie Prince Charlie was ill advised to commence this campaign to claim the English throne. He did not have the full backing of all Highland clans, his military strategy were seriously flawed. Charles is responsible for the consequences of his actions. He gave Cumberland et al the pretext to commit the atrocities they had been itching to perpetrate.