Local workers restore North Bute war graves

Raymond Lench and Roger Clarke hard at work renovating the Merchant Navy war graves at North Bute Cemetery.
Raymond Lench and Roger Clarke hard at work renovating the Merchant Navy war graves at North Bute Cemetery.

THE graves which mark the last resting place of more than 20 Merchant Navy seamen killed during the Second World War have been receiving some much needed renovation this week.

The headstones at North Bute Cemetery, in the grounds of the ruined St Colmac’s Church at Croc-an-Raer, are a permanent memorial to the sailors who were killed on board three merchant ships brought to Kames Bay for salvage during the 1939-45 conflict.

The graves and headstones are being renovated by local craftsman Malcolm Johnston and assistants Roger Clarke and Raymond Lench under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Together they have installed new foundations for the stones to ensure they will remain upright, at the same height, for generations to come.

The plot where the headstones stand has also received horticultural attention in the shape of new turf and borders laid by local landscape gardener Gary Ballantyne.

A spokesperson from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission said: “We have a regular maintenance programme to improve war graves all over the country, and are renovating all the plots on Bute, including one at Rothesay Cemetery.”