World War 1 Casualties
from the Road to the Isles
At the beginning of August 1914 the soldiers of Britain's small regular army were hastily concentrated at Southampton and sent to France to help defend Belgium against the might of the German Empire. Other men flocked to the recruiting stations to be armed, trained and sent to join them.
Many men from the communities along what is now the A830 "Road to the Isles" were among them and, inevitably, many did not return. Today war memorials in Glenfinnan, Arisaig, Morar and Eigg bear the names of 44 men and one woman who were killed or who died as a result of the Great War. Others returned with wounds or disabilities which would affect them for the rest of their lives.
Over half the local casualties joined the Cameron Highlanders or the Lovat Scouts and fought alongside many other men from the area. A small number of local men were regular soldiers in the 1st or 2nd Battalions of the Cameron Highlanders and fought in the first battles of the war in 1914 and early 1918. John Cameron from Arisaig was unfortunate enough to be the first Cameron Highlander to die on French soil. Men from the district died in places whose names would become synonymous with the First World War – Gallipoli, Ypres, Cambrai and the Somme. They died all through the war, with four losing their lives in the last month, when peace was finally in sight. Three of the dead soldiers and at least two of those who survived were awarded the Military Medal for bravery; one won a Distinguished Conduct Medal.
For Lochaber the most tragic day of the war must be the first day of the Battle of Loos, 25 September 1915, a day on which the 5th Cameron Highlanders suffered heavy losses. This battalion had been raised personally by its Commanding Officer, Cameron of Locheil, and a large number of its men were from Lochaber. At Loos, one man from Arisaig, two from North Morar and one from Eigg were killed on the same day.
To mark the centenary of the conflict and to help recognise and remember their sacrifice and that of their families, Mallaig Heritage Centre has been researching the lives of the men and the woman on the war memorials and of a small number of others who died, who for reasons now forgotten, were not added to the memorials. You can find out what information has been recorded so far by following the link below.
We are also trying to collect as much information as possible about those who served in the armed forces and survived to return to civilian life. So far we have identified 33 men who served and a page with information about them will be available shortly.