World War I was not confined to the more well known venue of The Front, but also extended into the sea, with German submarines deployed in order to disrupt supplies – fishermen working off the coast were potential targets:
A new exhibition has been launched to honour the fishermen who died in service during the First World War.
Anstruther was one of the fishing communities affected when war broke out, as fishermen were called to fight.
Many men from Scotland’s fishing industry went to fight in the conflict, and fishing regions were highly affected by the injuries and casualties they suffered.
David Christie from Anstruther sank a German U-boat in 1918. His granddaughter Davina Knox has the casing of the shell and his medal.
She said: “They were on a drifter patrolling the Irish Channel and they only had one gun on board the ship and this U-boat must have come up and they had a wee battle seemingly and they fired a direct hit and they took the 36 men prisoner. There was no loss of life.”
David Christie’s story features in a new exhibition at the Scottish Fisheries Museum in the town.
The First World War had both personal and collective impacts on those involved, whether they were away fighting or at home. In this exhibition we explore the specific effects that the war had on those who made their living from the sea. Using objects from our collections and individual stories of those affected we paint a national picture of the war in Scotland’s coastal communities.
At the beginning of the war many fishermen entered the services and swapped the familiar hazards of life at sea for the dangers of the trenches or naval work. For those who stayed at home fishing became severely restricted. Fishermen were left with very small areas left to fish in and many boats were requisitioned for the Navy.
28th June – 26th October
Entry : included in museum admission, accompanied children FREE
Looks like I have reverted to my old habit of giving Poppyscotland Home Page and Remembrance a late reminder – I think I’ll stop worrying about it.
However, and as usual, other things arose unexpectedly about a week a ago, and diverted my attention.
I’m crossing my fingers this year, as I have not been able to look at many news feeds recently, so hope that the usual stories seen in the past few years, telling of the sort of scum that steal collection boxes and money for the appeal, have actually not appeared, and not just been missed.
However, that does not mean that all is well, as we have seen a very bad year for thefts of metal from memorial and similar.
Sadly, while England has enacted new laws recently to make anonymous metal trading more difficult, Scotland is lagging behind, and has delayed moving on this, although we actually reported in last year’s article that “The Scottish Government proposed changes to the rules for scrap metal trading, removing the option of cash-in-hand payments in casual transactions“. Other than noting the deferral of this proposed deterrent, we have not noted any more positive actions against this growing theft.
Last year, we ended this with: Perhaps there will be something different to mention in a year’s time.
I’ll try something more imaginative his year…
Perhaps there will be something different to mention in a year’s time.
It was nice to see our Commando and SOE (Special Operation Executive) training areas in the Highlands near Fort William get a mention in an article inspired by the occasions where old ordnance is still uncovered in unexpected places. Well, unexpected for those who haven’t been hunting the stuff for years.
In a fairly long article for the BBC, the idea of enjoying q nice wander in the countryside was tempered with:
But some of these idyllic spots hide potentially explosive secrets.
Every year, unsuspecting members of the public stumble upon dozens of undetonated shells and bombs, most dating back to World War II.
So what happened in these remote places during the war? And how much do we know about the people who lived and worked there?
Of the Scottish training, it said:
The D-Day landings of WWII were key to the liberation of German-occupied western Europe. Although bloody, brutal and chaotic, they had been rehearsed at length.
Training took place around the UK, including at Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands, where troops dodged live bullets as they practised beach assaults.
Commandos were based at Achnacarry, near Fort William, with Special Operations Executive (SOE) at Lochailort, near Mallaig.
Local coastguard Craig Burton said: “Camas an Lighe, more popularly known as Singing Sands, on the north coast bears witness to that history. The beaches and their dune system were used for live fire landings training prior to many operations, including D-Day. One in particular, known locally as number three beach, contains most of the evidence.”
He said: “Operations involved using fixed-height machine guns, fired above the troops as they landed. They returned fire as they advanced up the beach using rifles, machine guns, mortars, grenades and other ordnance.”
While most of the ordnance left over from those days has either been found or cleared, there’s still a chance that something might be uncovered, and remain hazardous, so anything found is best left alone and notified. High explosive is bad enough, but there have been mortar bombs with phosphorous, and they can be nasty if damaged.
We have also looked at a number of these sites, and a number of SOE training schools are listed here:
And for the Commandos:
The Commando monument at Spean Bridge now looks out over the area, in their memory.
We don’t spot many stories arising from World War I, so it’s nice to see one which is accompanied by a tale of genuine good conduct and life saving.
We’re told that the steam drifter Ugie Brae was one of 16 Scottish vessels unfortunate enough to meet U-36 on 23 June, 1915, and be sunk some 35 miles off the Skerries. However, the crew of the German U-Boat allowed the crews time to launch their lifeboats and leave. One fisherman died a few days later, a result of a shrapnel wound, while ten men and one dog escaped from the Ugie Brae.
Their lifeboat was a 16-foot clinker built item, and was left where they landed – with some difficulty as they were exhausted and needed help to land – on the Skerries (a small archipelago about four miles north-east of Whalsay), where it was recycled and became a sheep shelter. Later still, a floor was added, and it was used to house accumulators used to power a radio.
However, a century of exposure has left the old boat in poor condition, but it is to be saved, and will be fully restored by local boat builders Robbie Tait and Jack Duncan in the boat shed at Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick. Dr Ian Tait, curator of Shetland Museum, explained:
“Time and the weather have, however, taken its toll and the condition of the boat had deteriorated badly. Shetland Amenity Trust was therefore approached by the Skerries community to see if ways could be found to save this historic part of Skerries heritage. It was agreed that, if the Skerries folk arranged for the boat to be transported to Lerwick, then the Shetland Museum and Archives carpenters would undertake the restoration work.”
He added: “Once restored, the lifeboat will be returned to Skerries and it will be reinstated in its landmark position as a boatie-hoose again.”
You can see pics of the work here: Historic lifeboat to be restored | Shetland News
A second lifeboat landed, from the Uffa, but did not survive its time exposed to the weather.
There may be some occasions where a bit of publicity or protest is order…
Remembrance Day events are clearly NOT one such occasions.
The as-yet unnamed creep, and coward, picture below decided it would be a good idea to hide his face and skateboard through the events being held to mark Remembrance Day in Bristol.
Hidden by his mask and wearing horns, he was described as being dressed in a pink frilly corset and striped stocking.
After he gatecrashed the march through the town, police tackled him as members of the crowd shouted their disgust at him.
He tried to get away, but was outnumbered. A witness said he put up a lot of resistance and they had to use quite some force to restrain him, and that people were shouting “rip his head off”.
After being arrested on suspicion of an offence, Avon and Somerset officer stood guard around him, as a number of people from the crowd were threatening to attack him.
Guess he was lucky they did not have to leave him… as they went for a tea-break.
Later, Jose Paulo Da Silveria, 38, was charged under the Public Order Act, police said.
An Avon and Somerset Police spokeswoman said: ‘Police arrested a 38-year-old man at the Remembrance Sunday service in Bristol city centre.
‘He was taken into custody.
‘Jose Paulo Da Silveria has been charged under the Public Order Act and will appear at Bristol
Magistrates’ Court on December 4.’
As he was bundled into a police car yesterday, officers had to forcefully remove several males who approached him and shouted obscenities and ‘death’s too good for you’.
Poppy Burning has also become an issue
See this story which appeared around the same time, and has raised similar emotions, especially after earlier poppy burning events:
A teenager who drunkenly posted a picture of himself burning a poppy on Facebook was in police custody last night.
Officers arrested Linford House after they received a complaint about the image that was published in the early hours of Remembrance Sunday.
When police called at his parents’ home that evening, the 19-year-old had already taken down the image on a friend’s advice..
A man, named locally as Linford House (pictured right), 19, was arrested yesterday after the image (left) appeared online. The words on the right image have been written on by a third party, who posted it online
It showed a cigarette lighter with a flame catching light to the bottom of a poppy, allegedly with the words: ‘How about that you squadey [sic] ****s’.
The student was questioned by detectives for several hours yesterday afternoon and last night he was still in custody facing a second night behind bars.
The mention of the poppy appeal has become something of an annual reminder in SeSco, and I had thought I had managed to get it into my head and mention it sooner rather than later, but this year has seen it slip again, as my attention was diverted.
However, the almost belated mention comes not from my somewhat dubious memory and its ability to forget the obvious, but due to current events, and some pondering about how to mention them.
Last year, as I made the Poppy post, I was pleased to observe that there had not been (to my knowledge at the time) any thefts relating to collection boxes. Sadly, that is not the case this year, and I noted one such incident reported in Scotland, so this scum is still moving amongst us:
Police in Dunfermline have described as ‘despicable’ the thieves who stole a charity collection tin from a leisure centre.
The fundraising can was collecting donations for the Scottish Poppy Appeal ahead of Remembrance Day.
The tin was taken from the front counter of the Dell Farquharson Centre on Dunfermline’s Nethertown Broad Street at around 2.20pm on Saturday.
Fife Police want to talk to two men who were seen at the centre shortly before the theft was discovered, one of whom was described as white, around 30 years of age, with short brown hair, and wearing a navy puffed-style jacket.
Inspector Thomas Barratt described the theft as “particularly despicable” given the causes which the Poppy Appeal supports.
Next, an apparent increase in the incidence of vandalism to memorials seems to be apparent in the media, with the most recent in Inverness, only days before Remembrance Sunday:
VANDALISM to a war memorial, just days before Remembrance Sunday, has been branded as “unforgivable” by the city leader.
Police are appealing for information after a section of the sandstone memorial in Cavell Gardens, which faces the River Ness, was targeted.
Words including ‘aim’ and what appears to be the name ‘Julia Mia’ have been etched onto the sandstone memorial.
“This is a disgrace, said Ian Brown, the city leader.
“I am appalled at this a deliberate action, in the run up to the weekend of Remembrance. It is unforgivable. I would urge anyone with information about the perpetrators to contact the Police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
And finally… there has to be mention of the apparent increase in thefts from memorials, specifically the plaques carrying the names of the fallen, or events leading to their deaths. These are generally made of non-ferrous metals which provide a good return for the thieves, since they pay nothing for what they steal. However, the cost is high in terms of distress for relatives, and councils/taxpayers, who have to foot the bill for repairing and restoring memorials damaged as the metal plaques and fixings are torn from without any consideration, causing damage many times the value of the metal removed.
Again, this seems to have become a growing problems within which one has to include unscrupulous scrap metal dealers, since it should be fairly obvious that the plaques and similar are not legitimate scrap. Yet they will apparently happily hand over a few pound for the metal, choosing to ignore its appearance, or what it engraved on it.
The Scottish Government proposed changes to the rules for scrap metal trading, removing the option of cash-in-hand payments in casual transactions, but there does not appear to have been any further mention of this by the media, so I am not aware if this is progressing, or has stalled for some reason.
Perhaps there will be something different to mention in a year’s time.
One of the lesser knows facts about the area of Dumfries and Galloway is the contribution it played in both World Wars, as hosted a number of munitions factories, and was a major source of the cordite used to fire the shells (and bullets) that were used in such vast numbers, especially in the first of those two conflicts.
The largest was HM Factory Gretna, of which we’ve managed to dig up a little of the history, and was once described as “the biggest factory in the world” (some 9 miles long by 2 miles wide), and where the Devil’s Porridge was made during World War I.
During the World War II, there were munitions factories in towns such as Dumfries, Dalbeattie (Edingham), Powfoot, and Carsegowan near Wigtown.
Many of these sites are largely unknown, as they were either abandoned and razed, or left to become derelict and ruined, with no attempts to preserve any as historic sites. But some did see later use, in part, as industrial estates.
An MP is seeking details of munitions factory workers from both world wars in order to seek formal recognition from the UK government for their efforts.
Russell Brown said many of them had been employed in factories in his Dumfries and Galloway constituency.
He has been leading the effort to win recognition for the predominantly female workforce.
He said the main reason it had not happened was the lack of a complete list of who was employed at the sites.
Now he has called on local people to get in touch with the details of individuals in the region who worked in the factories.
He has put an online form on his website where information can be logged.
Mr Brown said: “Munitions workers – the majority of whom were women – played a vital part in the war effort and deserve to be recognised by our country.
“Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to these heroes on the Home Front, many of whom were seriously injured or even killed during their hard and dangerous work.
“I have been pressing government ministers to take action and I am pleased that we are making progress, albeit not as quickly as I would like.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown and Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray are asking for local people to get involved in this campaign by providing information about individuals in the region who worked in munitions factories.
Anyone who has information which may help can submit it through the form given on the following site.
The campaign was reported in the local media earlier this year:
A campaign has begun in Scotland to raise awareness of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The organisation is responsible for 20,000 war graves in the UK and cemeteries abroad.