Merlin over Lewis
Personnel from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose braved the bracing Hebridean weather recently to pay their respects to the fallen at the Isle of Lewis War Memorial, in the Outer Hebrides.
The Merlin detachment from 824 Naval Air Squadron’s Sea Flight was on the Hebrides participating in the first of two Joint Warrior exercises this year.
Joint Warrior is a UK Tri-Service multinational exercise involving numerous warships, aircraft, marines and ground troops.
It provides a complex environment in which UK, NATO and allied units can go through training together in tactics and skills for use in a combined joint task force.
Their losses suffered in the Great War alone stand at around 1,300Lieutenant Commander Jack Ryan
Taking time off from their busy exercise duties the Flight Commander Lieutenant Commander Jack Ryan laid a wreath at the Island’s War Memorial at Stornoway.
“The Isle of Lewis made a fairly large sacrifice during the two World Wars,” said Lt Cdr Ryan.
“Their losses suffered in the Great War alone stand at around 1,300; which accounts for about 8% of the total population, incredibly one man out of every six.”
More than most the Islanders suffered at the end of WW1, when on 31 Dec 1918, a troop Ship HMY Iolaire and carrying returning sailors from hostilities, sunk after hitting rocks only one mile from Stornoway.
More than 205 people died, 185 of them from the Isle of Lewis.
The monument commands an impressive view over Stornoway and the surrounding area.
Just below this a series of commemorative plaques are set on a circle of granite stones and lists the names of the fallen.
The detachment held a small ceremony and in a somewhat poignant moment, the sky cleared allowing the planned fly past of one of the squadron’s Merlins.
Lt Cdr Ryan added, “Everyone who took part felt this was a poignant moment and a fitting tribute to the islanders who made the ultimate sacrifice.”