Easdale remembers men who fought in Great War

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Islanders and visitors came together on Sunday to remember the men and boys from Easdale Island who died in the Great War.

As a beacon was lit at 4.15pm at the start of the small, but touching, ceremony, led by May McGillivray – Easdale Island Folk Museum’s current curator – those gathered came to honour the loved ones who lost their lives.

May explained that in 1911, according to the information available then, there were 196 inhabitants, 61 of whom were eligible for call-up in 1914. Many men had already left the island 15-20 years before the war to find employment due to the quarries closing down, which, May said, has made it difficult to find out exactly how many from the island died in the Great War.

Islander Donald Gillies then spoke emotionally of all the animals, horses in particular, that were forced into service during the Great War, reciting a poem by Neil Andrew – I Spoke To You In Whispers.

May said the work to complete the list of all those islanders who died in the First World War continues, before she read out the names of those who are known to have been lost, visibly moved. This was followed by two minutes’ silence.

Duncan Smallman, who lives on the island, then read The Soldier by Rupert Brooke.

Bringing the small ceremony to a close, a young islander then rang the museum bell. May said: ‘The bell in the culree would have rung out in 1918 celebrating that the war was finally over – it would have been a joyous occasion.’

On Sunday morning a service was held in Balvicar, which has the roll of honour  for the whole parish. And on Luing and in Kilmelford, villagers lit their beacons after sunset, at 7pm, signalling the armistice.