Share your family’s World War One story with us

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Friday, August 3, marks 100 days to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One.

An Allied counter-attack, the Hundred Day Offensive, finally broke the stalemate on the Western Front and brought World War One to a close.

Symbol of remembrance...Elaine Edwards, National War Museum exhibition co-curator, holding a 1920s waxed paper poppy. (Pic: Neil Hanna)

Symbol of remembrance...Elaine Edwards, National War Museum exhibition co-curator, holding a 1920s waxed paper poppy. (Pic: Neil Hanna)

Today, the Stornoway Gazette is launching its own Hundred Day Offensive, to ensure everyone locally has an opportunity to remember, reflect on and mark this historic occasion.

And we’re asking our army of readers to take part in the campaign, by paying special tribute to their own World War One heroes.

The men who so bravely fought for our freedom from 1914 to 1918 can no longer share their stories with us – sadly, they are all now gone.

But we’re hoping the proud families of these men will give them a voice – so that none of us ever forgets the debt we owe.

Appeal...Colin Hume, Johnston Press Scottish weeklies editorial director, is asking readers to share their World War One stories and pictures.

Appeal...Colin Hume, Johnston Press Scottish weeklies editorial director, is asking readers to share their World War One stories and pictures.

Colin Hume, Johnston Press Scottish weeklies editorial director, explained more about the campaign.

“No village, town or city in Scotland was left unscathed by World War One,” he said.

“Countless sons, brothers and husbands were lost to the war and their families were left here to grieve them.

“Also here at home, in our foundries and on our farms, workers toiled long and hard to help feed the war machine.

“With 100 days to go until the anniversary of the end of World War One, we want local families to share their stories with our readers and ensure that these brave men are never forgotten.”

Remembrance Day this year will be a particularly poignant one, marking as it does 100 years since the end of the war.

More Britons died in World War One than in any other conflict; around six million men were mobilised and, of those, just over 700,000 were killed.

Nary a village, town or city in Scotland was unscathed – as evidenced by the war memorials which stand proudly within them.

The majority were constructed after the war ended, their aim being to provide communities with a focal point for their grief.

One hundred years since the war ended, on November 11, 2018, they will serve that self-same purpose.

Up and down the country, special commemorations are also being staged to remember the fallen and all those who fought for our freedom.

In Stornoway, two poignant concerts will pay tribute to the men who lost their lives on HMY Iolaire.

Carrying sailors who had fought in World War One back to the Isle of Lewis, it struck the Beasts of Holm and sank in the Minsh on January 1, 1919.

Co-commissioned by 1418 NOW and An Lanntair, Sàl will be performed at An Lanntair Arts Centre on October 27 and December 29 at 8pm.

Composed by Lewis-born musician Iain Morrison and presented with pioneering Scottish artists Dalziel and Scullion, Sàl (Saltwater) has its roots in ceòl mòr (the classical music of the pipes).

Inspired by the tragic journey of the Iolaire and the scale of loss in such a small island community, it’s also a personal story for Iain.

For his great-grandfather, seaman John Morrison, was one of the 205 drowned that night. Aged just 44 years old, he left a young family of eight children behind.

The youngest was one year old John Morrison – Iain’s grandfather.

Tickets are £15 (£10 concs) from the venue.

An Treas Suaile (The Third Wave) will also be performed at An Lanntair on November 9 and 10 at 8pm.

The concert’s title was inspired by the actions of John Finlay MacLeod, who swam ashore with a rope from the Iolaire and helped save dozens of lives.

BBC Radio 2 Folk award winner Julie Fowlis and violinist-composer Duncan Chisholm have mixed new and traditional music, archive recordings and visuals for the concert.

Tickets, priced £15, are available from the venue.

For islanders making a trip to Edinburgh, it’s also well worth visiting The National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle which is currently hosting The Poppy: A Symbol of Remembrance.

Featuring loans from Poppy Scotland and the Lady Haig Poppy Factory, it explores the origins of the symbolism of the poppy. The exhibition is open until January 27, 2019.

And, of course, on Sunday, November 11, Remembrance services will be held in towns and villages across the Isle of Lewis, with wreath-laying ceremonies at local war memorials.

To share your memories and pictures, send an email – entitled World War One – to news@stornowaygazette.co.uk.