Lewis and Harris will mark 100 years since the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ this weekend (Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th November) with a series of memorial services and parades.
The Armistice was signed at 6am on November 11th 1918 at Compiègne in France, the guns falling silent at 11am, signalling the end of the First World War.
In Stornoway, the news was celebrated widely. The school logbook for Fidigarry school reports: “11th November 1918 – Foghorns are blowing in Stornoway harbour at this moment (11.30am). I understand this as evidence that the armistice has been signed. Gathered the children into the main room, addressed them on the war, called for cheers for our soldiers and sailors, reminded all present of the fallen, and concluded by singing together 'God save the King'. Hoisted flags outside. Received telegram from Clerk to declare a holiday for tomorrow."
Of 6,172 Lewis and Harrismen who signed up to serve in the Great War, an estimated 1,151 died at on land or at sea, in the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Naval Reserves and Mercantile Marine. In a tribute included in the publication ‘Loyal Lewis Roll of Honour 1914-18’, Lord Leverhulme wrote:
“Not until liberty and civilisation were made secure and safe, not until our homes, mothers, wives and children were freed from the menace of the invader did the brave efforts of our unconquerable Lewismen cease. Not until victory was assured did our valiant Lewismen return home to their beloved Island, to their anxious mothers, their loving, waiting wives or sweethearts, their bonnie children and the crofts they knew and cultivated.”
This weekend Remembrance events will specifically focus on the century which has passed since war ended, while not forgetting those who have lost their lives in wars since.
On Saturday (November 10th) commemoration services include those at:
- North Lochs - Crossbost war memorial, 11am
- Melbost – service and wreath-laying at Melbost war memorial, 2pm
- Ness, Cross war memorial – remembrance service and wreath-laying, 10.45am
On Sunday (November 11th) in Stornoway members of the uniformed services will attend church services at 10.50pm. These will be at Martin’s Memorial Church (British Legion, RAF Association, Merchant Navy Association, Army Reserve, Air Training Corps, Queen’s Own Highlanders Association, Army Cadets and Laxdale School), at St Columba’s Church (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, RNLI, Nicolson Institute, Red Cross and St Andrew’s First Aid) and at the High Church (Lieutenancy of the Western Isles, Stornoway Primary School, Girls’ Brigade, Boys’ Brigade, Fire Scotland).
Members of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will also hold a Remembrance Service at the Coastguard Station in Stornoway.
Following the services, uniformed organisations will march through town to Carn Gardens, where the Lord Lieutenant will take the salute.
A bus will leave Stornoway Bus Station at 12.30pm for the Lewis War Memorial, where at 12.45pm a service of remembrance will be conducted in the memorial gardens.
There are further memorial services on Sunday (November 11th) at Borve war memorial at 10.45am and at Bernera Church of Scotland at 10.15am, with a wreath-laying at Bernera war memorial at 10.55am.
A memorial parade is also to be held in Tarbert on Saturday, and pipers from the Isle of Harris will join 1,000 pipers in New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and around the world playing the Scottish lament ‘When the Battle’s O’er’ at 6am on Sunday, the beginning of the first day of peace.
The pipers will play at 6am at the War Memorial in Tarbert and all are welcome to attend this brief event. For pipers (visitors or local residents) who wish to take part, tuning up will be on Saturday in the Church of Scotland car park, Tarbert, at 10:15am and on Sunday at 5,45am at Tarbert War Memorial.
In Barra, the church bells at Our Lady Star of the Sea will be rung at 12.30pm on Sunday, following morning mass, as part of a national bell-ringing tribute to Britain’s war dead. There will also be a service of remembrance at the war memorial at Bentangaval at 2pm.