Time and tide – re­mem­brance event taking place on Ben­bec­ula

The Oban Times - - LEISURE - By Sandy Neil sneil@oban­times.co.uk

Is­landers on Ben­bec­ula are in­vited to gather on Cula Bay beach on November 11 for a na­tion­wide ges­ture of re­mem­brance for the men and women who left their home shores dur­ing the First World War.

Mil­lions of peo­ple served in the First World War and many left by sea. The Na­tional The­atre of Scot­land is lead­ing events at six beaches across Scot­land, in­clud­ing St Ninian’s Isle beach, Ayr beach, Scapa beach in Orkney, St An­drews’ West Sands, Burghead Bay beach on the Mo­ray Firth and Cula Bay beach on the isle of Ben­bec­ula in the Outer He­brides.

Each event cen­tres on the draw­ing of a large-scale por­trait of a ca­su­alty from the First World War with a con­nec­tion to the lo­cal com­mu­nity. The por­trait will be de­signed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye and will be washed away as the tide comes in. The pub­lic will also be asked to join in by creat­ing sil­hou­ettes of peo­ple in the sand, re­mem­ber­ing the mil­lions of lives lost or changed for­ever by the con­flict.

The Cula Bay por­trait will be Dun­can MacK­in­non (1893-March 23, 1916), one of six broth­ers who all went to war. Dun­can and his brother Neil (born 1899) were killed. Their brother, the bard Hec­tor MacK­in­non, sur­vived along with the oth­ers the war de­spite be­ing tor­pe­doed and sub­se­quently res­cued. This had a last­ing ef­fect on Hec­tor, ev­i­dent from his po­etry.

Dun­can was born in Bern­era, Har­ris, to Mary and Fin­lay MacK­in­non. Dur­ing the war he served on the armed trawler Corona, one of many small ships that formed the Aux­il­iary Pa­trol, with tasks in­clud­ing minesweep­ing and anti-sub­ma­rine op­er­a­tions. The Corona was sunk near Rams­gate, Kent, and Dun­can is buried in the town’s ceme­tery. Neil was a deck hand on HMS Nairn and was awarded a Vic­tory Medal and Bri­tish War medal. He sur­vived un­til May 8, 1919.

Scot­tish poet Carol Ann Duffy has been in­vited by Danny Boyle, the di­rec­tor of the Ar­mistice Day project called Pages of the Sea, to write a new poem ti­tled The Wound In Time, which will be read by peo­ple as they gather on Cula Bay and 30 beaches across the UK and Ire­land on November 11. Copies of the poem will be avail­able at the beaches for those who wish to come to­gether or to of­fer their own per­sonal con­tri­bu­tion.

The pub­lic is in­vited to ex­plore a gallery of First World War ca­su­al­ties on the Pages of the Sea web­site, and choose some­one to say a per­sonal good­bye to on November 11 in per­son and on so­cial me­dia. They are also in­vited to add an im­age of their lost loved one to the on­line por­tal.


It is the wound in Time. The cen­tury’s tides,

chant­ing their bit­ter psalms, can­not heal it.

Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;

the earth nurs­ing its tick­ing metal eggs, hatch­ing

new car­nage. But how could you know, brave

as be­lief as you boarded the boats, singing?

The end of God in the poi­sonous, shrap­nelled air.

Po­etry gar­gling its own blood. We sense it was love

you gave your world for; the town squares silent,

await­ing their ceno­taphs. What hap­pened next?

War. And af­ter that? War. And now? War. War.

His­tory might as well be wa­ter, chastis­ing this shore;

for we learn noth­ing from your end­less sac­ri­fice.

Your faces drown­ing in the pages of the sea.

Carol Ann Duffy, 2018

Above and top right, Cula Bay on the isle of Ben­bec­ula in the Outer He­brides is one of the 30 beaches to be part of Danny Boyle’s Ar­mistice Day com­mis­sion for Pages of the Sea, and right Dun­can MacK­in­non who was in­volved in mine-sweep­ing op­er­a­tions.

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