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

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