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Iolaire remembered

On the eve of Hogmanay 2018 Mrs Janet Bowen unveiled a plaque at Kyle of Lochalsh station to commemorate the loss of over 200 Lewismen who died in the Iolaire disaster.

The story is long, but in essence returning servicemen who had survived the Great War were coming home for Hogmanay with their families. The port authorities were unprepared for the number arriving and arranged for HMY Iolaire to transfer from Stornaway to Kyle to collect servicemen coming off the trains from Inverness.

The Iolaire, a steam yacht, was small having only two life boats and about 40 lifejackets, but embarked over 260 men, no doubt in a spirit of 'can do' and a desire to get the boys home.

During the crossing the southerly wind increased requiring a correction in the course to port. The correction was not made and the Iolaire foundered on rocks less than 100 yards from the shore and within a mile of Stornaway. 205 men died in the ensuing chaos, and this from an island that had already lost so many in the trenches.

At 1500 hours a short ceremony took place in the wind and the cold and the wet at almost exactly the same time that the Iolaire berthed in Kyle 100 years ago.

Mrs Bowen said:

His Majesty’s Yacht Iolaire sailed from Kyle of Lochalsh at 1930, with the faster Macbrayne Steamer Sheila departing some 30 mins later.

The men who found themselves on board HMY Iolaire had to find any space they could. Some were exhausted and just wanted to get some sleep. Food was not generally available so those who found their space in the galley were lucky: they were able to enjoy a cup of tea. Everyone else managed with whatever they had in their kit bags.

Whilst the young participated in Melodeon Music, Gaelic songs and chat, the older passengers sought only rest. What was common to everyone was a desire to get home for Hogmanay.

The debate on what happened when HMY Iolaire approached Stornoway Harbour will continue for evermore, but what is not in dispute is the fact that she didn’t alter course to port early enough and found the Rocks of Holm right ahead of her. The resulting collision, combined with an ever-increasing southerly wind, caused the unimaginable disaster we are remembering today.

The stories of the grounding, along with some heart-breaking tales of courage and sacrifice, would take far too long to tell. As would the horror still felt on the Island, which has endured for the last 100 years; the island lost a generation of men after the cease fire.

We stand today to remember the more than 200 islanders who had served their country so gallantly and who found that circumstances that night conspired to inflict on them, that which the enemy had failed to do.

And we are also here to remember the suffering of those who were left behind.

Let this Plaque remind everyone, who sees it, of the starting place of one of the greatest peacetime maritime disasters in our history. Not the greatest in numbers, but surely the greatest in irony and the effect on a small island community.

Let me conclude by saying that Her Majesty The Queen will be aware of this tragic story, and of our commemoration here today. Prince Charles will be in Stornaway tomorrow to commemorate the disaster, compounded by subsequent events, and to remember the generation lost to the Island of Lewis.

Iolaire remembered

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Posted by the Lieutenancy on 01/01/2019

Polish Remembrance 2018

On Sunday 18 November 2018 Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, attended Invergordon to lay a wreath at the Polish War Memorial, along with many others.

This follows a tradition of remembering the Polish fallen a week after the UK Remembrance Sunday. The war memorial is sited on the outskirts of Invergordon next to the old camp for those Poles who were unable to return home at the conclusion of the Second World War having fought for the Allies.

The service is bi-lingual and a notable feature is the singing of the Polish national anthem to the pipes.

The service was attended, amongst many others by local councillors, the area's MSP and MP, the Polish Consul from Edinburgh and one surviving veteran.

Polish Remembrance 2018

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Posted by the Lieutenancy on 19/11/2018

100 years on from the end of the Great War

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh was in Dingwall in front of the war memorial as the clock on the Town Hall chimed eleven to take the salute in memory of the fallen in the Great War 1914 - 18, exactly 100 years on from the armistice of 1918.

The largest crowd for a very long time was present to mark the occasion.

The act of remembrance was followed by a non denominational service at the Free Church.

100 years on from the end of the Great War

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Posted by the Lieutenancy on 19/11/2018

Russian Convoys Remembrance with David Craig at Cove

On Saturday 10 November Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh attended her final official act of remembrance at Cove, commemorating those who died on the Arctic Convoys.

There is now only one Arctic Convoy veteran able to attend, David Craig, and Mrs Bowen was honoured to be photographed with him at the Memorial.

The act of remembrance was as moving as ever and attended by a large section of the Loch Ewe community, who have taken this memorial as their own.

Russian Convoys Remembrance with David Craig at Cove

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Posted by the Lieutenancy on 13/11/2018

Remembrance at Poolewe

On Saturday 10 November Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh, attended Poolewe to join in act of remembrance.

Remembrance at Poolewe

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Posted by the Lieutenancy on 11/11/2018

Lord Lieutenant is invested with her CVO

On Wednesday 7 November Mrs Janet Bowen, Lord-Lieutenant for Ross and Cromarty, Skye and Lochalsh was invested as a Commander of the Victorian Order by Prince William the Duke of Cambridge.

Lord Lieutenant is invested with her CVO

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Posted by the Lieutenancy on 11/11/2018

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