This summer I travelled to France and Belgium on a tour of the Great War and Western Front Battlefields of 1914-1918. This was not your average bus tour where you visit the main sites in large groups this was a specialised tour which although gave us a general overview of the Great War it was customized for our small group and the family members we where remembering were individually researched.
I am originally from Lewis in the Outer Hebrides also known as the Western Isles in Scotland. In the First World War, The Western Isles suffered a huge loss of life, a fifth of the population was killed, in percentage terms more of its population were used and lost in the conflict than anywhere else in the British Empire.
There is no complete list of casualties, originating from the Isle of Lewis. Many lived away from the island when they joined up, whether it be elsewhere in the United Kingdom or overseas. Any reference to these men would have pointed to their last residence or next-of-kin; which would not necessarily have been in the Isle of Lewis.
It affected not only every village in Lewis but practically every family in the island. My parents both lost close relatives so on my journey we researched and remembered my four great uncles. Two sets of brothers from each side of the family.
Donald- 2nd Gordon Highlanders, killed in action 29th October 1914 age 21
Roderick- 8th Seaforth Highlanders, killed in action 20th August 1917 age 21
Murdo- 1st Cameron Highlanders, killed in action 25th September 1915 age 21
Donald- 43rd Canadian Infantry, killed in action 4th June 1916 age 24
North Lewis War Memorial
This was an emotional trip, incredibly sad at times but so interesting and unforgettable. I hope you enjoy following my journey.