Re­mem­ber­ing 98 from Ar­ran who fell in Great War

The Arran Banner - - News - Fiona Laing editor@ar­ran­ban­

Sun­day Novem­ber 11 marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War, a con­flict in which it is es­ti­mated nine mil­lion servicemen lost their lives.

Count­less more sur­vived but re­turned home as shad­ows of their for­mer selves. For some, the scars were all too vis­i­ble but for so many the men­tal tor­tures they suf­fered haunted them for the rest of their lives.

The peo­ple of Ar­ran suf­fered their own pain and heart­break among the car­nage of the war. Some of us will at­tend the Act of Remembrance at our lo­cal war memo­ri­als where the names of the dead will be read out and a solemn si­lence will be ob­served in their hon­our. More of us will per­haps pause as we pass the memo­ri­als as we go about our daily busi­ness and look at the names, pon­der­ing per­haps on who these men were and on the hor­rors they faced.

The Somme, Ypres, Gal­lipoli, Pass­chen­daele – all places and bat­tles which even those with the briefest of knowl­edge of the First World War will have heard of and places where Ar­ran men fought and died. Add to the list Loos, Ar­ras, Vimy, Messines and so many more, not for­get­ting the per­ils faced by the mer­chant sea­men from the is­land who sailed on through mine­fields and the con­stant threat of U-boat at­tack.

In all these the­atres of war, Ar­ran lost 98 of her sons – men who were born and bred here or those who had come to work and called Ar­ran their home.

It was not only the men of Ar­ran who vol­un­teered and risked their all though. Many Ar­ran women left to join the ranks of nurses who were so des­per­ately needed to care for the wounded and ill and to com­fort those for whom there was no hope of re­cov­ery.

Around 1,500 nurses lost their lives in the war, thank­fully none was from Ar­ran, but their con­tri­bu­tion should not go un­her­alded. The brav­ery and ded­i­ca­tion of med­i­cal staff dur­ing wars is al­ways hum­bling.

At home on the is­land, ev­ery­one ral­lied round. The loss of the is­land’s best horses, req­ui­si­tioned within days of the start of the war in Au­gust 1914 on top of the en­list­ing of so many of the is­land’s young men, put an added bur­den on those left be­hind – agri­cul­ture a main­stay of the is­land’s econ­omy, there were no trac­tors and very few cars so horses were a vi­tal part of the is­land’s life.

Ev­ery­one had to do more and work harder, but de­spite this they still found time to raise money for the troops. By the end of Oc­to­ber 1914, the is­land had raised just un­der £700 for the Na­tional Re­lief Fund. They even raised money to fund a bed in one of the hospi­tals near the front in France where pa­tients were tended to by one of the Ar­ran nurses.

The women or­gan­ised work par­ties through­out the is­land and would meet by the light of oil lamps and can­dles to knit socks, bal­a­clavas and gloves for the sailors and sol­diers. By the end of Jan­uary 1915, 5,417 ar­ti­cles had been sent to the var­i­ous units.

When the war came to an end af­ter four long, bloody years, the re­turn­ing men were wel­comed with cel­e­bra­tions in all the vil­lages. Some gave their re­turn­ing sol­diers a gift – in Pirn­mill this was a cig­a­rette case, while Lochranza gave the men a foun­tain pen.

A na­tional day of cel­e­bra­tion was held in July 1919, but thoughts had al­ready turned to com­mem­o­rat­ing the men who had not come home to their fam­i­lies.

Over the next few years, war memo­ri­als were erected in many of the vil­lages, but the is­land’s main me­mo­rial was the con­struc­tion of a hos­pi­tal – which we still use to this day. The Ar­ran War Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal was paid for by pub­lic subscription, the foun­da­tion stone be­ing laid in 1921. Any­one who en­ters the build­ing passes un­der­neath the names of those who made the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice.

If you are in­ter­ested in hear­ing more about Ar­ran and the First World War, I will be giv­ing a talk in Cor­rie and San­nox Vil­lage Hall at 2pm on Fri­day Novem­ber 9. En­try will be by do­na­tion with all funds go­ing to Com­bat Stress. If you can­not come along, then please go along to your lo­cal war me­mo­rial on Sun­day Novem­ber 11 and re­mem­ber those men for whom there was no to­mor­row.

The men of Ar­ran who fell in the Great War have their names at the en­trance to Ar­ran War Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal.

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