Saturday, 27 September 2014

Spanish Civil War

Walking by the Clyde River in Glasgow we came across this statue of Dolores Ibarruri, one of the leaders of the Spanish Civil War (July 1936 until 1 April 1939). Dolores Ibarruri was known as La Pasionaria. A quotation from La Pasionaria reads - Better to die on your feet than live forever on your knees. The sign beneath the statue reads:
City of Glasgow 
and the British
Labour Movement
pay tribute to the
courage of those
men and women
who went to Spain
to fight Fascism
2,100 volunteers 
went from Britain,
534 were killed,
65 of whom came
from Glasgow

The British volunteers were part of the International Brigade, volunteers from more than 50 countries, who went to Spain to assist supporters of the republican movement in that country. Members of the International Brigade were primarily trade unionists and members of political organisations from the centre to the left of the political spectrum, including the Communist Party. The Fascist army and supporters were better organised than those fighting for the republican cause. Numbers of new recruits for the International Brigade were declining by 1938 and the group was disbanded in October with the British volunteers returning home in December of that year.

La Pasionaria Memorial - BBC Scotland

La Pasionaria - Glasgow City of Sculpture

La Pasionaria fading icon - HeraldScotland 5 December 2009

Scots who fought against Franco - STV News 23 August 2010

Spanish Civil War monument, Glasgow - Panoramic Earth

Dolores Ibarruri (1895-1989) - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Dolores Ibarruri (1895-1989) - New York Times 13 November 1989

International Brigade - British volunteers

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Nelson Monument, Edinburgh

Located on Calton Hill in Edinburgh is the Nelson Monument, commemorating the victory of the British Fleet over the French and Spanish Fleets and the death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

The 106 foot monument is built to resemble an upside down telescope. One hundred and forty-three steps have to be climbed to reach the top of the tower. It is built on the highest section of the hill and was designed to be viewed by ships on the Firth of Forth. The architect was Robert Burn (1752-1815). The Nelson Monument replaced a signalling mast previously on the sight.  A mast stands at the top of the monument and the famous Trafalgar flag signal 'England expects that every man will do his duty' is flown each year to mark Trafalgar Day (21st October).
Planning for the monument began a month after the death of Lord Nelson. The foundation stone for the monument was laid in 1807 and the main tower was built by 1808. Then the money for the project ran out. Work again began on the project in 1814 and was completed in 1815.

In 1852 a time ball was added to help ship captains reset their chronometers each day. This is dropped at 1 o'clock each afternoon. As the time-ball could not always be seen if the weather was foggy, a cannon at Edinburgh Castle was fired at the same time. The time-ball is still dropped at 1.00 pm six days a week.

Nelson Monument - Calton Hill architecture

Battle of Trafalgar - BBC History

Battle of Trafalgar - History Channel

National Monument of Scotland

The National Memorial of Scotland can be found in the Regent Gardens on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. The building was erected as a memorial to Scottish servicemen who died during the Napoleonic Wars (between 1803 and 1815) but the building was never completed due to lack of funds. Modelled on the Pathenon in Athens, it remains an impressive structure.

The foundation stone for the monument was laid in 1822 and building began in 1826, but building ceased in 1829 when money for the project ceased. The monument was designed by Charles Robert Cockerell (1788-1863) and  William Henry Playfair (1790-1857), who designed many of the well known buildings in Edinburgh including the National Gallery of Scotland, Old College at University of Edinburgh and Regent Terrace, Royal Terrace and Calton Terrace, part of Edinburgh's New Town. Cockerell was the senior architect when the design was submitted but Playfair is the architect most closely associated with the project.
Located on top of the hill the monument provides views of surrounding country side as well as views of the city.
Although only twelve of the pillars were erected, it is a prominent structure on the hill even though locating information about the significance of the building can be a challenge.
 It remains a popular place with tourists and others visiting Calton Hill.

Lost Edinburgh - the Scotsman 17 February 2014

William Henry Playfair - Undiscovered Scotland

Friday, 19 September 2014

Scottish National War Memorial

Entrance to Scottish National War Memorial
The Scottish National War Memorial is located in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle. It was opened on 14 July 1927.

According to the website, the Scottish National War Memorial commemorates nearly 150,000 Scottish casualties in the First World War, 1914-18, more than 50,000 in the Second World War, 1939-45, and the campaigns since 1945, including the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War, Northern Ireland, the Falklands War and the Gulf War.
It is a most impressive building, inside and outside, and blends in with the other buildings in the complex.
North side of the building
The Scottish National War Memorial website includes a virtual tour of the building.

 Canmore - Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland - provides a site report with photographs of aspects of the building.

Glasgow Cenotaph

The Glasgow Cenotaph is located in George Square, Glasgow.
The monument was unveiled on 31 May 1924 and is the place for remembrance ceremonies in the city.
The tall granite obelisk is decorated with a bronze sword above a carving of the Glasgow city seal. Two lions guard the entrance to the cenotaph. When we visited the George Square there was a chain across the entrance with a sign requesting that people did not use the space as a seating area and pointing out that this is not a playground for children - a sign of the times?
The inscription on the back of the Cenotaph states that 200,000 soldiers from the city served during World War I.

Glasgow Cenotaph - War Memorials Online

Glasgow's Cenotaph - Their names will be remembered for evermore

In Honour's Cause - Glasgow's World War I Memorials

Upstairs at the  St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, near the Glasgow Cathedral,is a photographic exhibition of images of the many war memorials relating to World War I in the city.
The framed photographs with commentaries are of public memorials as well as memorials in churches, educational buildings and places of work.
Among the photographs are replicas of stained glass windows - memorials to those who served in the different services.
A review in HeraldScotland 23 August 2014 provides a description of the exhibition. The exhibition themes include Fallen Comrades, Places of Learning, Faith in Action, From Office and Factory Floor, Local Heroes, Leisure and Pleasure and For King and Empire.

This simply presented exhibition provided a moving representation of the number and variety of memorials within the city.

Glasgow Cathedral - World War I memorial

Another memorial on the walls of the cathedral in Glasgow is to the local men who died during the First World War.
The tribute reads:
To the Glory of God
and in Remembrance of the Men of this
Congregation who Gave their Lives in
the Great War

The names of the many men who died are then listed.

Glasgow Cathedral - Crimean War memorial

On the walls of Glasgow Cathedral are a number of memorials relating to men who died in different campaigns.
This memorial is dedicated to local men who died during the Crimean War between 1854 and 1856.
The men surved with the ninety-third Sutherland Highlanders. Their stand against the Russians on 25 October 1854 has since been referred to as The Thin Red Line.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Kyle of Lochalsh memorials

The Kyle of Lochalsh is a village on the north-west coast of Scotland opposite the Isle of Skye. A bridge connect the mainland to the island and the village of Kyleakin. We stopped at Kyle of Lochalsh  for a short time before crossing over to the Isle of Skye. While the exploring the village I came across two mines that tell the story of the involvement of area in the Second World War.
Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War preparations were already being undertaken to establish a military presence on the Atlantic coast of Scotland including on the Isle of Skye and at Kyle of Lochalsh. These settlements with their vantage points, narrows and sea lochs protected by hills, were selected for the establishment of bases for convoys and mine sweeping operations, observation points and radar location posts. Plans were made to lay mines at strategic places from the Irish sea and along the Scottish coast towards Orkney. Gaps were left for British shipping to safely pass through. The first mine has a plaque commemorating the Officers and Men of the First Minelaying Squadron formed in July 1940 and based at Kyle of Lochalsh until November 1943.
The plaque then tells the story of one of the mine-laying ships, the Port Napier, which in November 1940 was blown off course in a gale and the ship's two anchors became entangled with a collier. When a fire broke out aboard the Port Napier a team worked furiously to remove the detonators from the mines on the ship until order to abandon the vessel. People living in the neighbouring area were evacuated and trains to the area were stopped until the all clear was given. There were explosions and the ship sank. Diving teams salvaged some of the ship as the metal was required for the war effort.
Around the corner is another mine.
The plaque on this mine commemorate the officers and men of HMS Trelawney, which was one of the names given to the base, and the ships of the First Minelaying Squadron who were based at Kyle of Lochalsh. This memorial was unveiled in April 1982.

HMS Port Napier - Kyleakin Local History Society

War comes to the crofters 2 - Remembering Scotland at War

Dunvegan War Memorial

A shop window in Portree, Skye, had this display prepared by the Portree Local History Society advertising a Commemorative Parade to be held on 4 August 2014 at 2.45 pm ending at the Dunvegan War Memorial on Skye.

A Facebook page - Dunvegan Community Council - WWI Community - had been established to promote the event. Photos of the event commemorating 100 years since the outbreak of World War I can be viewed on this site.

Dunvegan War Memorial - The Scottish War Memorial Project

Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow has been used as a safe anchorage for ships since the times of the Vikings in Britain. Surrounded by many of the islands making up the Orkneys this large expanse of water provided a natural shelter for many ships so during the First World War and the Second World War the British Navy used Scapa Flow as a base.

At the beginning of the First World War barriers in the form of block ships were put in place at five entrances to try and prevent German U-boats from entering Scapa Flow. Some of the ships were purchased by the Navy while others were the result of 'spoils of war'. Once in place the ships were filled with ballast and sank. Anti-submarine netting was also used to protect the entrances. Defencive mine-fields were also laid and gun batteries were installed at strategic points for further protection. The presence of the British Fleet in the North Sea restricted the movement of Germany ships in the area and made it difficult for the Germans to move supplies to their country by sea.

In May1916 the Grand Fleet left Scapa Flow to engage ships from the German Navy in the Battle of Jutland. Two hundred and Fifty ships were involved in the battle which lasted all night until the German ships retreated from the scene. Fourteen British ships were lost with 6,094 men while the Germans lost eleven ships with 2,551 men. However the Germans determined not to risk a major battle in open seas with the British again.

Although every effort had been made to prevent German U-boats entering the seas near Scapa Flow the Germans managed to lay at least one mine resulting in the sinking of HMS Hampshire on 5 June. The ship was on its way to Russia with the British War Minister, Lord Kitchener aboard.

After the declaration of the Armistice seventy-four German ships with skeleton crews were interned and escorted to Scapa Flow. On 21 June 1919 Rear Admiral Von Reuter told his men to scuttle the ships which they did at 12 noon. Fifty-two of the ships were sunk while the others were towed to shallow waters. Most of the ships have since been salvaged but some wrecks still remain.
When visiting the Orkney Islands some of the wrecks of ships are visible, especially when crossing the Churchill Barriers.
During the Second World War Scapa Flow was again used to house the British Fleet. However it was soon obvious that the defences established during the First World War were insufficient. Between the wars some of the block ships had also been removed to make safe passage for fishing boats to enter the North Sea. On 14 October 1939 the HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed from a German u-boat and sank in Scapa Flow. Eight hundred and thirty-four men died. After the Germans also carried out aerial bombing of sites in October 1939, the British fleet was removed from the area for six months until effective anti-aircraft defences could be installed to protect ships and surrounding area. During the first German air raid the HMS Iron Duke was bombed.  The ships returned on 8 March 1940. German air raids continued until 10 April 1940 but additional protection was also provided from the RAF station at Wick and radar was also used to detect approaching aircraft. Scapa Flow was essential to British naval plans and needed to be well protected.
It had already been decided to install additional block ships to protect the area however another method of protecting the entrances was also instigated - the Churchill Barriers. The plan was to build four causeways between five of the islands - Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray, South Ronaldsay and the Orkney Mainland - thereby permanently blocking these entrances. When a shortage of labour threatened the project it was decided to establish a prisoner of war camp for Italian prisoners of war and use this additional manpower to complete the project.
Only the chapel from Camp 60, at Lamb Holm, remains today.
The chapel was constructed from Nissan huts with a facade attached to the front.
Inside the decorations of the chapel appear to be ornate
but the walls of the hut have been cleverly painted to produce effect of tiles and other decorations.
The chapel has been kept as a reminder of Camp 60 and this period of British history.

Scapa Flow was strategially important to the defence of Britain during both World Wars.It is a most interesting place to visit.

Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow - historic wreck site

Scapa Flow - First World

Scapa Flow - Block ships

Battle of Jutland - Eyewitness history

Lord Kitchener - First World

Scuttling of the German Fleet - Wikipedia

Defending Scapa Flow - Remembering Scotland at War

Battle of Orkney - Scapa Flow

Italian chapel - Undiscovered Scotland

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Portree Primary School Project

Walking towards the port in Portree on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, I passed this memorial to soldiers from the area who had died during the First World War and the Second World War. The inscription
MAIRIDH AN CLIU GU BRATH (May their fame live on forever) was written on the pedestal

Lest We Forget
Donated by Seoid
Portree Primary School
War Time Memories Project
Donated to thank the Community
In memory of all 
who sacrificed so much during
The Great Wars

A search on the Internet shows that Portree Primary School has undertaken a number of War Time Memories projects over the years including producing a book and a CD relating the war time experiences of the ordinary people of Skye from photographs and personal reminiscences. A number of such programs appear to have been undertaken at different times.

Portree War Memorial

Situated in the Town Square of Portree on the Isle of Skye, Scotland is a memorial to the 104 men from the area who died during the First World War. The population of the island during the First World War was approximately 1,000. Ten men from the island were killed near Festubert in France on one night in 1915.
Names of those who died in the Second World War and one from the Korean War were added later.
The design of the memorial is a mercat cross (a market cross) with a lion on the top. It is constructed from grey granite.

Further reading:
Scottish War Memorial Project

Skye's Band of Brothers - BBC

Names List - War Memorial Portree, Skye

War Memorials on the Isle of Skye

Neil Oliver Remembers the Brave Men of Skye

Commando Memorial

The Commando Monument is a Category A listed monument dedicated to the men of the British Commando Forces raised during the Second World War. The memorial is located 2 kilometres north west of Spean Bridge in Scotland. The monument is more than 5 metres tall and consists of three soldiers looking out over the mountains. The commandos trained around the area where the memorial now stands. The bronze monument is the work of Scott Sutherland and was unveiled by the Queen Mother on 12 September 1952.
Around the monument are the words, United We Conquer. The plaque below reads -
  • In Memory of the Officers and Men of the Commandos who died in the Second World War 1939-1945. This Country was their Training Ground.
In 2012 a memorial garden was added where ashes of former commandos could be placed. The garden also serves as a memorial for commandos who have died in recent conflicts - particularly Afghanistan and Irak.
Further information:
Commandos Veterans Association

Commando Memorial - Undiscovered Scotland

Knitting for Victory

Knitting for Victory is a project from the UK encouraging the knitting of poppies throughout the world, similar to our 5000 Poppies project. In one of the posts they acknowledge the 5000 Poppies project as the inspiration for their project. The Knitting for Victory Facebook page includes photos of a variety of knitted poppies, patterns, kits being sold as a fundraiser and lots of pictures of people knitting poppies.
According to one of the posts:
The purpose of the FaceBook page 'Knitting for Victory' is to unite knitters from around the world who wish to knit poppies and be part of a team unified in knitting and fundraising for the British Legion's Poppy Appeal 2014.
West Yorkshire Spinners, Artysano and Rowan have all supplied yarn for us to make poppy knitting kits thus expanding the opportunity for new knitters to join us from around the globe!

As well as keeping the art of knitting alive we are also focused on fundraising particularly in this the centenary of the First World War.

Another worthwhile community project commemorating World War I. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Kildonan War Memorial at Helmsdale

This impressive monument was constructed in 1924 and has been described as consisting of a prominently-sited ogee-roofed clock tower of stugged grey ashlar above a hammer-dressed base. It was designed as a landmark for the fishing fleet of Helmsdale, Scotland.

The names of those from the parish who died during the First World War and Second World War were added to the monument when it was restored after receiving a grant in 1999.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

War memorial at Pitlochry

The war memorial is for Pitlochry, Perth and Kinross in Scotland and is dedicated to the men and women from the region who died serving in the First World War and the Second World War. The memorial is made from Aberdeen granite is in the form of a Celtic cross.

The land for the monument was donated to the community by Colonel Butter and his wife unveiled the memorial on 22 July1922.

The list of names inscribed on the memorial appears on this website.

Two of the names on the list were members of the medical service.

War monument, St Andrews, Scotland

This memorial set into a recess in the fence of the ruins of St Andrews Cathedral was designed by Sir Robert Lorrimer (1864-1929), the architect of the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle. The white granite memorial has a Celtic cross above a sword on the shaft.
The dates on the memorial are for the years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. In the recess behind the memorial names are engraved on a series of metal plates.