Islay to host series of events to commemorate First World War
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.