WW100 Islay hosted a public meeting at ICCI on Tuesday 28 February which around 40 members of the Islay community attended. One of World War 100 Scotland’s main commemorations in 2018 will be held on Islay, marking the loss of the troopships Tuscania and Otranto. WW100 Islay group has proposed a calendar of events for 2018 which also remembers the part that Islay men and women played in the Great War.
Stuart Graham provided a very informative and moving presentation of how the war affected Islay in 1918. As the stories of the two troopship tragedies unfolded in the waters around Islay, around 50 Islay and Jura men lost their lives on the battlefields of France and further afield. It was a very difficult year. Stuart underlined the compassionate and respectful way that Islay people looked after the American service men who were washed up on Islay, both those who survived and those who were lost. Continue reading....
Jenni Minto then outlined the proposals that the WW100 Islay group had been working on over the last year. The group had used the words remembrance, reflection and reconciliation as a starting point to build their ideas, with Islay and its community being central to all plans. Jenni also outlined the work that the group had undertaken on existing war memorials and ensuring a legacy be left on Islay. The War Memorials Trust has visited Islay and has prepared reports on our three external war memorials as well as the American Monument. They will fund up to 75% of the cost of any repairs. Generally our memorials are in very good condition but some work is needed on the lightning conductor and foundations of the American Monument.
A calendar of commemorative events will take place throughout 2018;
- 5 February: Memorial service marking the loss of the Tuscania;
- 4 May: WW100 Scotland event - more information will be available soon but it is envisaged that services will take place at the American Monument and Port Ellen War Memorial;
- Late August (date tbc): dedication of a stone paving slab in Portnahaven remembering David Lowe MacIntyre who was awarded the Victoria Cross;
- 6 October: service of remembrance at Kilchoman for the Otranto;
- 11 November: closing with services marking Armistice Day
Also in the pipeline are the following:
A WW1 trail will link places which were impacted by the loss of the Tuscania and Otranto from the Cyber Cafe in Port Ellen which acted as a temporary morgue, to the Bridgend Hotel which hosted a tea party on behalf of Otranto survivors thanking those who looked after them.
The Islay Quilters will create a replica of the Stars and Stripes which was sewn the night before the first of the Tuscania funerals. The original is held in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC and the Museum of Islay Life is in discussions to see if the flag can come home next year. The Quilters also plan to sew the flags of the 39 states who lost men, so are looking for volunteers to help with this task.
In the Bridgend Community Garden a raised bed will be constructed to grow the State flowers and the group are looking at creating a Memorial Grove containing the State trees as well as the national trees of the Home Nations and Germany. The Scottish Woodlands Trust has been approached and they are very supportive of this idea and may be able to source an oak sapling from Verdun.
The RSPB have done a fantastic piece of work increasing the length of the boardwalk up to the Monument and are looking to improve signage up to and around the American Monument.
Other charities on Islay are going to be involved in commemoration events surrounding the two tragedies and the impact on the Islay community of the First World War. These include the Islay Book Festival, Islay Visual Arts, the Scouts and Guides. Islay High School and the primary schools on the island have also been very supportive and discussions are ongoing as to what role they will play.
If you would like to get involved in any way, whether it be sewing, constructing raised beds or if you have any, WW1 items that you would be happy to loan to the Museum for 2018, please contact the Museum of Islay Life on 01496 850358 or firstname.lastname@example.org
published with kind permission of the Ileach