Is­lay to host se­ries of events to com­mem­o­rate First World War

The Oban Times - - News -

IS­LAY is to host a se­ries of events next year to com­mem­o­rate First World War.

Ar­gyll and Bute Coun­cil is sup­port­ing the pro­gramme with fund­ing of £25,000.

The se­ries of com­mem­o­ra­tive events is planned to run from Fe­bru­ary 5 to Novem­ber 11, 2018.

It is part of WW100 Scot­land’s na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tions to mark the cen­te­nary of the fi­nal year of the Great War.

Cen­tre piece of the is­land pro­gramme will be a Day of Com­mem­o­ra­tion on May 4. A ser­vice will take place at the Amer­i­can Mon­u­ment on the Oa in re­mem­brance of the hun­dreds of US ser­vice­men and Bri­tish crew who lost their lives when two troop­ships, the SS Tus­ca­nia and the HMS Otranto, went down off Is­lay.

This will be fol­lowed by a pub­lic ser­vice at Port Ellen war me­mo­rial, where wreaths will be laid in hon­our of Is­lay’s war dead.

The May 4 Day of Com­mem­o­ra­tion will also in­clude ser­vices at each of the ceme­ter­ies where men from the Tus­ca­nia and Otranto were buried.

Some of the rest­ing places were tempo- rary, oth­ers re­main. These ser­vices will take place on Fe­bru­ary 5 and Oc­to­ber 6 re­spec­tively.

Var­i­ous events will take place and ex­hi­bi­tions will be cre­ated across the is­land through­out the year. Ar­mistice Day ser­vices in each of the Is­lay com­mu­ni­ties will draw the com­mem­o­ra­tions to a close.

WW100 Is­lay is or­gan­is­ing the pro­gramme as a part of the outreach work of the Mu­seum of Is­lay Life.

WW100 Is­lay chair­woman Jenni Minto said: ‘Every vil­lage on Is­lay lost men in the Great War. The war memo­ri­als in Bow­more, Port Char­lotte, Port­na­haven, Bal­ly­grant and Port Ellen name al­most 200, with a fur­ther 24 not con­firmed on any me­mo­rial. It is clear the price paid by this one small Scot­tish com­mu­nity was very high. But the loss of the troop­ships SS Tus­ca­nia, tor­pe­doed in the North Chan­nel, be­tween Is­lay and North­ern Ire­land, by UB-77 on Fe­bru­ary 5 1918, then HMS Otranto, which sank near Machir Bay af­ter a af­ter a col­li­sion with HMS Kash­mir on Oc­to­ber 6, brought the Great War di­rectly to Is­lay’s shores. The ships were car­ry­ing thou­sands of young Amer­i­can ser­vice­men to fight on the bat­tle­fields of Europe. Many were saved af­ter heroic res­cue mis­sions but sadly hun­dreds per­ished: 166 from the Tus­ca­nia and 470 from the Otranto. Many washed up on Is­lay’s shore­line.

‘Im­me­di­ately af­ter the war, the Amer­i­can Red Cross com­mis­sioned a mon­u­ment in recog­ni­tion of Amer­ica’s lost. A light­house-like struc­ture sits proud atop the cliffs on the Mull of Oa and is a poignant re­minder of these two dis­as­ters.

‘It is these tragedies and the part the is­lands played in the res­cue of sur­vivors and the re­spect­ful fu­ner­als of those lost, as well as the loss of Is­lay’s own, that are be­ing re­mem­bered with these com­mem­o­ra­tive events. They will be drawn to­gether into a last­ing legacy that can be re­vis­ited by in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties in the fu­ture.’

WW100 Is­lay is sup­ported by the Ar­gyll and Bute First World War Com­mem­o­ra­tion Steer­ing Group which is chaired by Lord Lieu­tenant of Ar­gyll and Bute Pa­trick Ste­wart.

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