The Museum of Islay Life is planning a commemorative display which will honour the part played by Islay men and women in World War One in this, the centenary year.
The Museum wants to tell the story of Islay’s war experiences through objects, letters and photographs: the heroic acts and traumas of the battlefields, and of the continuation of life on Islay while waiting for word of loved ones. And we’ll tell of the Tuscania and Otranto disasters, with the loss of around 600 American troops, many of whom were washed up around Islay’s coastline.
Last month the Museum received a donation of letters from descendants of the Barr family of Gartbreck. These include a letter from a friend of Bombardier Andrew Barr, 5th Mountain Battery RGA, who was stationed in Salonika. Continue reading.....
The letter describes how life on Islay was impacted by the war, and how in some respects continued as normal: "Last night Laggan Bay was livened by the presence of 6 mine sweepers which spent the night there, anchored near the Big Strand. This is the season for Gulls eggs and the Bowmore boys are on the hunt for them on Sunday’s and Saturday’s." Sadly, Andrew Barr died on 14th December 1918 from influenza and pneumonia at a military hospital in Salonika.
Additionally, the daughter of Lance-Corporal Lachlan Torrie, of Port Charlotte has loaned the Museum some of her father’s medals and mementos of the war. Lachlan enlisted with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in 1916; he then transferred to the Gordon Highlanders and was awarded the Military Medal for gallant conduct at the Battle of Cambrai and on the Western Front. After peace was declared, Lachlan did not return immediately to Islay but went to Italy to guard Austrian prisoners of war in Italy. The prisoners apparently viewed him as a 'reasonable' guard and made him a gift of a matchbox cover and a model plane fashioned from spent bullet cartridges. These will be on display.
Jessie Scott was a District Nurse on Islay for many years, but during the war nursed injured soldiers at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow. While there she collected poems and drawings from her patients in an autograph book, which clearly show the gratitude these men felt for Nurse Scott.
If you have any objects, photographs or letters that you would like to loan to the Museum to include in our commemoration, please get in touch either by phoning the Museum on 01496 850358 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by visiting.
published with kind permission of the Ileach Newspaper