Remembering those who gave their lives that we might live
Thirty-nine soldiers from the Slate Islands who fell in the First World War are honoured on the Kilbrandon war memorial on the Isle of Seil.
Exactly 100 years after the Great War began in 2014, retired architect Helen Glennie of Clachan Seil started investigating the personal stories behind each of the inscribed names.
Her extensive research, forensically gathered over the past two years, filled an entire wall at the Scottish Slate Islands Heritage Trust exhibition in Seil Hall in October, exhibited beside replicas of the war memorial and a First World War trench.
‘I did not think it would take this
long,’ Helen told The Oban Times. ‘It all started pouring out. I wanted to find out about their lives, their regiments and how they died.’
Helen is now compiling their stories into a book to be sold at the trust’s Ellenabeich museum in the new year, titled The Lost Men of Kilbrandon.
Helen writes: ‘There are 39 men listed on the memorial at Balvicar as having died during the First World War – a high proportion for this small parish. Four sets of brothers were killed, along with four cousins and four husbands, and there were 16 men with no known graves. Three men drowned in action with U-boat submarines, and some died at home after succumbing to the dreadful pneumonia pandemic of September 1918 to April 1919. In all, there are 18 different regiments represented and five different vessels. Virtually 20 per cent of the islands’ young men were lost.’
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, one of war’s bloodiest battles, when more than 1,000,000 men were killed or wounded, including seven from Kilbrandon parish. But 2016 also marks the centenary of two more First World War battles – in Mesopotamia and the Ypres- Salient in Belgium – and three more losses from the Slate Islands.
Below, thanks to Helen’s research, we remember a few, as the country nears Armistice Day tomorrow (Friday November 11) and Remembrance Day on Sunday.
The model of the Sommes trench and Seil War Memorial.