Letters to the Editor – week 38

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Searching for veteran’s photograph

I have been looking for many years without success to find a photograph of my father as a young man.

I think with all the publicity surrounding centenary of the end of the Great War this may just be my last opportunity to succeed in that endeavour.

My father was born in Oban in 1882. He was a member of the Oban TA Mountain Battery prior to enlisting in the regular army in 1906. On enlistment he joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery.

From his army records he served firstly in India (1906),  returning directly from there to Belgium/France (1914) and then Italy (1917). During the course of that service he was awarded two Military Medals, firstly, at The Battle of Messines.  A Bar to that followed in Italy during the Battle on the River Piave. The award of both medals  was mentioned in the Oban Times. They were also in the London Gazette,September 28, 1917, and March 29, 1919.

Some years ago a very kind lady, Faith Orr of the Oban Times assisted me in researching the archives and was able to tell me that in 1919 The Oban Council presented gold watches to all Oban men who had received gallantry awards during the war. Faith found some articles on the event and my father was listed as having been there and I do recall seeing the watch.

Mr John MacPherson, during one of my visits to the Oban War and Peace Museum, was able to show me one of the presented watches which is on display at the museum, I believe donated by a recipient or his family.

I am hoping the presentation in 1919 was photographed either by someone officially recording the event or by someone whose family member was being honoured that day and that some families may still have a copy of the picture.

It is a bit of a long shot but I hope this appeal via The Oban Times may just turn one up or indeed a relative that I don’t know about.

At the end of the war my father, being part of the regular army, transferred to “K” Battery Royal Horse Artillery, serving in India.

Alex McColl,

Pendeen, Upper Castle Road, St Mawes, Cornwall, TR2 5BY.

Congratulatons on ferry summit

I write to congratulate Alison MacCorquodale on her effectiveness as prospective Labour candidate in the Western Isles. She appears to have achieved more in the space of days than many of us have managed in years.

On September 5, Ms MacCorquodale drew attention to the latest CalMac crisis and called for “an islands summit on ferry services to which the MSP and MP should be invited with ‘empty  chairs’ if required”.

On September 6 at Holyrood, Alasdair Allan MSP asked the Paul Wheelhouse, the minister for energy, connectivity and the islands, if he would “commit to visiting my constituency to meet me and other stakeholders at a summit to discuss that important issue?” i.e. ferry capacity.

Until then, Mr Allan’s most notable contribution to the ferry debate had been to call for a tax on campervans to deter them from coming to the Western Isles at all, so this really was dramatic progress.

On September 9, Mr Allan issued a press release stating that Mr Wheelhouse has “agreed to visit the Western Isles” to discuss “the shortage of ferry space” with himself and “other stakeholders”.

I think we need early clarification of who will be involved in these discussions and what opportunity there will be for the people and businesses most affected by the ferry shambles to be heard? Let’s not lose sight of the promised “summit”.

In the meantime, thanks are due to Ms MacCorquodale for her effective intervention. Who knows, we might even hear from the MP once he can spare time between crowdfunding for Alex Salmond and broadcasting for Russia TV!

Angus McCormack, 25 North Street, Sandwick, Isle of Lewis

Thank you to unknown rescuer

Wednesday August 29 was a fine day and I went for a walk up the old Coffin Road from the end of Loch Feochan towards Scammadale.

The track is now very overgrown and almost totally obscured with chest-high bracken.  It was very hard work.

By the time I returned to my car in the layby at the end of Loch Feochan, I was exhausted and tripped (or maybe fainted), falling and cracking my head.  I remember a lady who was there coming to my rescue and somehow she got me to Oban hospital – but I blacked out and don’t remember this bit until I came to in A&E.

The lady disappeared before I could thank her.  Judging by the blood on my clothes, I must have made a mess of her car.

It is heartening to know that such Good Samaritans still exist, and if the lady reads this – I’m most grateful to her.

I’d also like to record my appreciation of the hospital staff for their very professional, efficient and friendly care.  It’s a great resource we have here.

By the way, I don’t recommend going near that Feochan-Scammadale track until the bracken has died down.

Sandy Johnstone, The Glebe, Kilmelford.

Concerns are growing over Islay infrastructure

On my latest visit to Burnside I heard numerous concerns raised about our Islay’s infrastructure and its ability to cope with our tremendous growth in industrial output.

This is a concern I share and both Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government must do more as leaving much-needed road maintenance on the back-burner will only lead to an even greater cost when the work is finally done.

At the recent Tarbert Community Council meeting, and while speaking to directly to local business owners, I was given an update on Scottish Water’s plans for addressing long-standing sewage and drainage issues in the area as well as the disruption to business that will be caused.

Back on Islay after receiving numerous complaints about the condition of the Charlotte Street bus shelter in Port Ellen, I raised the matter with our roads department which plans to replace said bus shelter once it has consulted the local community about the best possible location, whether that be the current location or another.

The continuing dilapidation of the Laphroaig stretch of road has resulted in myself receiving one justifiable complaint after complaint after another. Many of my constituents are asking when this road will be properly repaired. As ever, I will keep pressing for proper long term repair work to be done.

Councillor Alastair Redman,

Islay.

Parking fine means we will avoid Oban in future

Visiting Oban on August 16 with a large shopping list, we began in Argos then went to Pets at Home followed by Homebase. We then drove to Tesco car park and walked to Aldi and afterwards to Tesco for our weekly shopping.

Having finished, we drove out of the car park having stayed for just under three hours – well within the four hours allowed at most Euro car parks in Glasgow.

So I am sure you can imagine my surprise some days later to receive a parking fine from Euro car parks for £100, or £60 if paid immediately.

I endeavour at all times to support our local retail shops. However, following this hard-learned lesson, I intend to shop in Glasgow where there are more realistic timings for parking.

I am surprised that the retailers at Oban Retail Park are content with how little time shoppers are able to park. This will only be exacerbated with the arrival of M&S.

Tom Adam,

Cairnbaan.