Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Armistice 2007 entries

I have started to incorporate the tributes in a new page on my website, which you can find here. As of tomorrow, I shall add new tributes to that page, but will continue to link to it on this blog.

Armistice 2007 entries - 2



Last address in Lewis: 1 Aird,
Son of William and Mary Mackenzie, married to Marion
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMY Iolaire
Service number: 3360/C
Date of death: 1 January 1919 at the age of 42
Drowned in sinking of HMY Iolaire
Interred: Aignish / Eye Cemetery



Last address in Lewis: 23 Arnol,
Son of Norman Macdonald, of 23, Arnol, Barvas, Isle of Lewis, Scotland.
Regiment or division: 10th Canadian Infantry (Alberta Regiment)
Service number: 20336
Date of death: 25 April 1915 at the age of 27
Killed in action in France
Interred: Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Memorial reference: Panel 24 - 28 - 30.



Last address in Lewis: 3 Back,
Regiment or division: 2nd Gordon Highlanders
Service number: 3/5956
Date of death: 8 January 1915
Killed in action
Interred: Rue-Petillon Military Cemeteryy, Fleurbaix
Memorial reference: I. C. 41.


Second Lieutenant NEIL MACDONALD

Last address in Lewis: 14 Balallan,
Regiment or division: 263rd Siege Battery RGA (Special Reserve).
Medal: MC
Date of death: 25 April 1918 at the age of 24
Killed in action in France
Was awared MC for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when forward observation officer of his battery. Finding his observation obstructed by long grass, he advanced about 200 yards into Nomansland, moving from shell hole to shell hole until he got a good view. He then returned for his wire and laid it out by himself, observing for his battery for 3 hours, during which he was constantly sniped and in great danger from his own shells. Had served with the Ross Mountain Battery throughout the Gallipoli campaign



Last address in Lewis: 8 Ballantrushal,
Regiment or division: 4th Highland Light Infantry
Date of death: 29 September 1917
Killed in action in France



Son of the late Kenneth and Eliza Maciver. B.Sc. (Aberdeen).
Last address in Lewis: 54 Lower Barvas,
Regiment or division: 13th Yorkshire Regiment (formerly Army Veterinary Corps)
Service number: 33890
Date of death: 22 March 1918 at the age of 24
Killed in action in France
Interred: Arras Memorial
Memorial reference: Bay 5


Last address in Lewis: 5 Upper Barvas,
Regiment or division: 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Date of death: 15 September 1914
Killed in action in France



Last address in Lewis: 15 Lower Bayble,
Regiment or division: 1st Seaforth Highlanders
Date of death: 9 May 1915 at the age of 27
Killed in action in France
Served in India for 10 years with Seaforths



Last address in Lewis: 14 Upper Bayble,
Son of Donald and Catherine McLeod Murray, of 14, Upper Bayble, Stornoway, Lewis.
Regiment or division: 1st Scots Guards
Service number: 14108
Date of death: 15 September 1916 at the age of 19
Killed in action
Memorial: Thiepval Memorial
Memorial reference: Pier and Face 7 D.



Last address in Lewis: 28 Benside,
Son of Donald and Mary Campbell, of 28, Benside, Laxdale, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Pembroke
Service number: 3020/DA
Date of death: 19 August 1917 at the age of 25
Died in hospital
Put in the winter at Scapa Flow after a severe voyage to the White Sea. He endured hardships which undermined his health, resulting ultimately in his death.
Interred: Aignish / Eye Cemetery
Memorial reference: D. 3. 69



Last address in Lewis: 14 Borrowston,
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Piscatorial
Date of death: 28 February 1917 at the age of 18
Ship sunk by mine



Last address in Lewis: 24 Borve,
Son of Angus Smith, of 24, Borve Barvas, Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.
Regiment or division: 1st Cameron Highlanders
Service number: 3/5290
Date of death: between 25 and 28 September 1915 at the age of 21
Killed in action
Interred: Loos Memorial
Memorial reference: Panel 119 to 124



Last address in Lewis: 12 North Bragar,
Son of Donald and Annie Smith; husband of Marion Campbell Smith, of 43, North Bragar, Stornoway, Ross-shire.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Goliath
Service number: 2350D
Date of death: 12 May 1915 at the age of 40
Died in torpedoing of HMS Goliath at the Dardanelles
Memorial: Chatham Naval Memorial
Memorial reference: 14



Last address in Lewis: 23 South Bragar,
Regiment or division: 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Medal: 1914 Star
Date of death: 3 May 1917 at the age of 21
Killed in action in France

Call for support

Joyce (springangel235) keeps a private journal, but those that read her will be aware that her husband suffered a heart attack in the last 24 hours. Please keep her in thoughts.

Lori (bowyerlori) is in the hospital after her doctor sent her there, with the terse description of a "belly full of blood". That's deeply worrying, and hope all ends well. Please leave a message of support.

Hurricane update - 31 October (II)

Note for those in southeastern Florida: the windadvisory and galewarning is likely to be replaced by a tropical storm warning. The current high winds are an indirect effect of Noel, as they result from a sharp pressure gradient between the cyclone and a system of high pressure over the eastern US. As Noel moves north over the Bahamas, the direct winds (which extend 115 miles from the centre) may affect southeastern Florida.

Tags: ,

Happy Halloween!

Halloween incorporated in various websites. Meanwhile, stay safe, check anything your kids get given at the door before they eat it. Don't allow eggs or flour to be taken out of the house, please.

Have a great time, if you celebrate.

Hurricane update - 31 October

Tropical storm Noel is about to reemerge over open waters north of Cuba. The system continues to dump vast amounts of rain on Cuba, Hispaniola and the Bahamas. The general idea is that Noel will head north into the Bahamas and proceed to change into an extra-tropical low. That is a technical term for a depression of the sort you get at European latitudes. It will be a very strong one, with winds of 60 knots - force 11 to 12 on the Beaufort scale.

I should stress that Noel will NOT become a tropical hurricane. People in southeastern Florida should continue to pay close attention to Noel's progress through today.

Tropical cyclone 05A is weakening far out at sea, 750 miles east of Somalia. Tomorrow, the southern hemisphere's tropical cyclone season commences.

Wednesday notes

Wet and windy this morning and little sign of improvement. Halloween isn't going to be very nice for any youngsters venturing out in the islands this evening.

In Central Scotland, traffic is at a standstill on the M8 motorway, which links Edinburgh and Glasgow. An accident involving eight vehicles claimed a life at around 6.10 am this morning. It closed both carriageways, leading to gridlock. Debris from the accident were strewn across the width of the motorway, and police are appealing for any drivers who hit pieces of wreckage to get in touch. It will be hours before the road is reopened. Traffic is meanwhile diverted up the M9, M876 and M80 motorways.

India is hosting a toilet conference. 700 million people in that country do not have access to a toilet with proper waste disposal. Train travellers in the country will be familiar with the early morning sight of people squatting along the tracks to relieve themselves. Apart from the obvious hygiene implications, there is also an aspect of personal safety, particularly for women. Apart from the rather banale jokes that any reference to the lavatory tends to evoke, it is a basic necessity that everybody requires, and cheap solutions that do not require a lot of water to work are being developed.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Armistice 2007 entries - 1



Last address in Lewis: 3 Achmore,
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS Triumph
Date of death: 25 May 1915 at the age of 46
Ship sunk by U-boat



Last address in Lewis: 20 Adabrock,
Son of Mrs. Catherine MacKay, of Upper Adabrock, Port of Ness, Stornaway.
Regiment or division: 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 3/7382
Date of death: 1 July 1916 at the age of 19
Killed in action in France
Interred: Redan Ridge Cemetery no 1, Beaumont-Hamel
Memorial reference: C.8



Last address in Lewis: 5 Aignish,
Son of Donald Macleod
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMML 485
Service number: 4793/SD
Date of death: 1 January 1919 at the age of 19
Drowned in sinking of HMY Iolaire
Was never found



Last address in Lewis: Aird Dell,
Son of Mrs. Catherine Graham, of Aird, South Dell, Ness, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: 2nd Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: 3/7457
Date of death: 1 July 1916 at the age of 19
Killed in action on the Somme
Interred: Thiepval Memorial
Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 15 C.



Last address in Lewis: 20 Aird Tong,
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, H.M. Drifter "Star of Buchan."
Service number: 4942/B
Date of death: 20 October 1915
Died at sea
Memorial: Chatham Naval Memorial
Memorial reference: 14

Last address in Lewis: 8 Aird Uig,
Regiment or division: 1st Gordon Highlanders
Service number: S/9531
Date of death: 11 April 1917 at the age of 37
Killed in action in France
Interred: Arras Memorial
Memorial reference: Bay 8 and 9



Son of Kenneth and Annie Mackenzie, of 11, Airidhbhruaich Lochs, Balallan, Stornoway, Lewis.
Last address in Lewis: 11 Arivruaich,
Regiment or division: 8th Seaforth Highlanders
Service number: S/12740
Date of death: 24 March 1918
Died at the Somme
Interred: Feuchy Chapel, British Cemetery, Wancourt
Memorial reference: I. G. 20.

Armistice Day

Sunday 11 November 2007 will see the 89th anniversary of the Armistice of World War I. A politically inspired exercise in pointless butchery if ever there was one. It resolved nothing and sowed the seeds for an even more gruesome reprise between 1939 and 1945.

Here in the UK, the many casualties will be remembered at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month with a two-minute silence. Up here in Lewis, the death-toll in relative terms has been particularly high. Every second man joined up. Of those that joined up, one out of every six did not survive the war. In absolute numbers, 1,150 may not seem all that much, but 1 out of every 12 men speaks rather louder.

Over the past few months, I've been attempting to compile an on-line record of the fallen. I've mentioned my Faces from the War Memorial site before. Over the next 10 days or so, I'll feature one name out of every of Lewis' 100 villages in an entry. I'll also include a picture from the village or its immediate area if I have one.

Saudi state visit

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is paying a state visit to the United Kingdom. He is the first Saudi monarch to come to the UK in 20 years or so. Abdullah ascended the throne following the death of his half brother, King Fahd in 2005. He is aged 84.

The King was welcomed to London with a guard of honour by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. King Abdullah arrived with an entourage numbering several hundred, requiring 5 jets to transport them all to London.

The visit has attracted strident criticism from some quarters. Saudi-Arabia imposes and executes the death penalty on a regular basis. Its record on human rights is seen as poor by some critics. The position of women in society is still held to be well below that of men. Some people have declared that the King should never have been invited on account of these issues.

King Abdullah ruffled a feather here and there just before his arrival, by stating that if the British security services had acted on intelligence, forwarded to them by the Saudis in 2005, the bombings on London's transport system in July that year would have been prevented. The security service have replied that the intelligence was not specific enough for that purpose.

I have to say that it was influence from Arab rulers (including the Saudis) that prevented the US from removing Saddam Hussein from power when they had him by the short and curlies in March 1991.

Although aspects of life in the Saudi kingdom do not sit well with some of our perspective, there are a couple of pragmatic considerations to bear in mind.

Saudi-Arabia holds the largest reserves of oil in the world. Oil is the lifeblood of our economy; it doesn't just provide fuel for our cars, but is also the base material for the very thing you're looking at and working with as you read my post. And for zillions of other gadgets around the house and at work.

You can very well be principled and say the UK shouldn't have anything to do with a regime like that, but I don't think that the vast majority of people in this country are prepared to give up their cars, to name but a thing.

Call for support

Please call round at Lori's. She's feeling blue following the loss of a first cousin a few days ago.

Noel notes

Tropical storm Noel has brought the anticipated devastation to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with 10 inches of rain, flooding and mudslides. Twenty people are known to have died, although this toll may well rise.

Noel is currently just off the Cuban coast, but will make its way across to the Bahamas. Its trajectory leaves little margin for error - if it is a little further to the west, southeastern Florida will get a swipe. Noel will intensify to hurricane strength before being turned into a normal depression out in the Atlantic. It will then scoot northeast towards the Canadian Maritimes.

The NHC does advise that the current blustery conditions in southeastern Florida are NOT the direct result of Noel. There is a high pressure system to the north, and the gradient between that and the tropical cyclone causes strong winds. Please monitor NHC
output closely - the next bulletin is due at 0800 EDT, with a full advisory at 1100 EDT. These will be reflected on my TC blog.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Final flowers

Well, I found several people on this John Scalzi assignment, so I decided to join in for this once. Pictured on 24 October 2007:

Confused clematis

Late honeysuckle

Hurricane update - 29 October

Tropical storm Noel has passed over Haiti, but continues to dump vast amounts of rain over Hispaniola. As I reported earlier today, rainfall totals could amount to between 10 and 30 inches, which will give rise to dangerous flash-floods and mudslides.

Noel will head northwest, towards the passage between the Bahamas and Cuba. It does not bring excessively strong winds (maximum windspeeds 50 mph, which is force 10 on the Beaufort scale), but does carry those rains.

Eastern Florida should monitor the progress of Noel, as the area presently lies within the cone of uncertainty. Please monitor the output from NHC. I cease reporting for the night after 8pm EDT. I may relay the 8pm EDT advisory on the tropical cyclones blog, but not the bulletins at 11pm, 2am or 5am.

Cold day

Darkness has fallen on a cold, nearly sunless day. Temperatures are down to 6C, which is not much below the maximum of 8C, which was achieved this morning. In other words, it's freezing out there.

Jenny highlighted the negative side of trick-or-treating in the UK: threatening behaviour by some teenagers, vandalising of property and other unpleasant aspects. It's a shame, because at heart I don't believe is more than just a little fun for young children at a dark time of year.

Halloween, All Hallows Eve, started out life as a pagan festival, denoting the end of summer. Winter starts in November (Samhainn in Gaelic culture). The end of winter falls on 1 May, a day known as Beltane in Gaelic culture. Upon the advent of Christianity, All Hallows was the day that the dead were remembered. 2 November is All Saints, when all the saints are remembered. Cathy has made an excellent entry on this subject.

Whilst I do not celebrate Halloween in any other way than "Trick or treating through J-land", I hope those that do celebrate it have a nice time and allow others the same privilege.


ICE - In Case of Emergency

Betty reminded me of this.

Please feel free to copy and post in your journals.

ICE campaign - "In Case of Emergency"

We all carry our mobile phones with names & numbers stored in its memory but nobody, other than ourselves, knows which of these numbers belong to our closest family or friends.  If we were to be involved in an accident or were taken ill, the people attending us would have our mobile phone but wouldn't know who to call. Yes, there are hundreds of numbers stored but which one is the contact person in case of an emergency?

Hence this " ICE" (In Case of Emergency) Campaign

The concept of "ICE" is catching on quickly. It is a method of contact during emergency situations. As cell phones are carried by the majority of the population, all you need to do is store the number of a contact person or persons who should be contacted during emergency under the name "ICE" ( In Case Of Emergency).  The idea was thought up by a paramedic who found that when he went to the scenes of accidents, there were always mobile phones with patients, but they didn't know which number to call. He therefore thought that it would be a good idea if there was a nationally recognized name for this purpose. In an emergency situation, Emergency Service personnel and hospital Staff would be able to quickly contact the right person by simply dialing the number you have stored as "ICE". 

Please forward this.

It won't take too many "forwards" before everybody will know about this. It reallycould save your life, or put a loved one's mind at rest.  For more than one contact name simply enter ICE1, ICE2 and ICE3 etc.  Be sure it's in your kid's cell phones also.....A great idea that will make a difference!  

Let's spread the concept of ICE by storing an ICE number in our Mobile phones today

Page width

Apologies if you spent the past 24 hours scrolling your way left to right and back again across my blog. This was caused by the images on my Trick or Treat entry. As I use a Firefox browser, this does not show to me - but when I looked on Internet Explorer it was way too wide. I have separated the pictures with a linefeed (HTML tag: <br>), which has sorted the problem.

Monday notes

Fairly bright morning but some heavy showers about. Temperatures not brilliant, only 8C, but that may be a consequence of the showers.

Spare a thought for the poor people of Haiti, who can expect up to 30 inches (750 mm) of rain. That's 750 litres of water on every square metre... The high rainfall totals are caused by tropical storm Noel, which is ambling along at snail's pace, taking time to dump huge amounts of rain on mountainous terrain. Southwestern Haiti has mountains that stand up to 8,000 feet tall. Noel will not intensify a lot beyond its current 45 knots, but blimey is it going to be wet in Hispaniola, Cuba and the Bahamas. Florida has no real cause for concern.

Local news was dominated by the usual litany of drink-fuelled misbehaviour that besets our little town over the weekend. The debate on the West Lothian Question (see one entry back) is raging nationwide.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

The West Lothian Question

This is UK politics at foundation level. I'll try to explain.

Back in 1707, the Kingdoms of Scotland and England were merged under the one Crown and the one Parliament. After two unsuccessful attempts to put a Pretender on the Scottish throne (in 1715 and 1745), things looked pretty much set in stone. Since 1999, that stone looks pretty brittle.

Scotland got devolved government. A Scottish Parliament was set up and elected. A Scottish Executive instituted. It does not have tax-raising powers, nor does it have jurisdiction over foreign or defense affairs. Things like education, healthcare and transport were devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. For eight years, the Labour Party headed up the Executive, under First Ministers Donald Dewar (who died in 2000), Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell.

In May 2007, elections to the Scottish Parliament were held. It yielded 184,000 invalid ballot papers and a victory by the Scottish National Party by 1 seat. SNP leader Alex Salmond became First Minister. It should be explained that the SNP aims for full independence for Scotland from the UK. This requires a referendum, and the other parties in the Scottish Parliament are opposed to this. For a referendum to be organised, the Scottish Parliament requires a two-thirds majority. The SNP does not have that.

Since devolution, certain matters of state have been devolved away from Westminster to Holyrood. This has created an anomaly in Parliament. Members of (UK) Parliament (MPs) are not able to vote on devolved matters. That is the prerogative for MSPs. (Members of Scottish Parliament). Scotland still has MPs in Westminster. However, English MPs complain that Scottish MPs can still vote on matters pertaining to England which English MPs are not able to vote on where they pertain to Scotland (remember: schools, transport etc). This is known as the West Lothian Question, after the constituency of Tam Dalziel who first raised the question.

This weekend, a senior Conservative MP, Sir Malcolm Rifkind (erstwhile MP for an Edinburgh constituency, now for Kensington and Chelsea in London) has really set the circus alight by stating that Scottish MPs should be barred from voting on English matters. A solution to the West Lothian Question, which could lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. Grist to the mill of the SNP, who want precisely that. The Conservative Party in Scotland, just out of interest, is known as the Conservative and Unionist Party. Mr Rifkind appears to go against his own party's principles on the matter, but this is not just party politics we're talking about.

England and Scotland are supposed to be at loggerheads with each other, but in actual fact are more like little brothers, squabbling amongst each other until the big bully comes on the scene. There is resentment in certain quarters in England against the Scots being subsidised by Westminster - your average Scot gets 5 times more from central government than someone south of the border. Conversely, there is a sector in Scottish society (partially spearheaded by the SNP) who look to the past, and how they were taken advantage of by the English. If I look at Lewis, they sent away half their menfolk during World War I. One out of six never came back.

I have found in European history that living in the past is playing with fire. The Balkans War of the 1990s was fought on the strength of the battle of the Field of the Thrush in 1389. The "troubles" of Northern Ireland are justified through the Battle of the Boyne of 1688.

I think that breaking up the United Kingdom from both sides of the border is a dangerous road to take, as it stirs up mutual resentment. Not everybody in Scotland wants independence. I believe it is not economically viable, in spite of what the current administration is saying.

Hurricane update - 28 October (II)

Tropical storm Noel (pronounce like knoll) has formed near Hispaniola, and is lashing the eastern Caribbean with up to 20 inches of rain and 50 mph winds. Things are set to get worse, as the system intensifies prior to passing over Cuba. Keep an eye on this one - the forecasters have not got a good hold on its future trajectory.

Aged clam

An ocean quahog clam, dredged up off Iceland was found to be about 410 years of age. It was named Ming, after the Chinese dynasty that was in power at the time it was in its infancy. The age of a clam is calculated by counting the growth rings on its shell. More here. Anyone still complaining of feeling old out there?

Halloween and black cats

Please spare a thought for black cats at this time of the year. I once had a black cat, called Thomas, who was an un-neutered tom. Although he was ferocious in battling any intruder, he was one of the sweetest cats you'd want in the house. He would not even spray indoors. He would lie in bed with people, not aligned along the length of the bed, but across its width. He ate what we ate, including beans, meat (obviously), butter, cheese and milk.

Thomas also had this habit of coming into the bedroom in the dead of night. I would wake up with a start by a cat meowing, jumping into the window and onto my bed. He once brought a living rabbit into the bedroom at 3 am one night, proceeded to kill it and eat it - having no problem with a screeching rabbit or crunching bones. We did. He left only the bunny's hind quarters as a keepsake for the family. He would catch birds as well as mice, throwing the latter feet up in the air for everybody's amusement.

He sowed his wild oats around, and had no inhibitions in choosing the location for that either. One morning, a female cat ambled into the garden - she was as black as himself - with four kittens in tow. Three were black, another tortoiseshell, presumably the result of another close encounter.

A less enjoyable friendship was enjoyed by Thomas with his fleas. During our holidays, the cat was put to the cattery. On our return, his fleas were jumping with joy. We made the cardinal mistake of not sending the cat around the house first.

His fighting left Thomas with open wounds, which at times would make it quite easy to locate him by smell. Our vet was familiar with the sight of a battle-scarred tom, who would fight to be put into the carrier basket - but on leaving the vet's would meekly walk back in again.

Thomas passed over the Rainbow Bridge in June 1988.

Trick n Treat thru J-land