Remembering the merchant seamen buried at North Bute

The names of the merchant seamen buried at North Bute Cemetery at Croc an Raer were read during a simple Remembrance Sunday ceremony.
The names of the merchant seamen buried at North Bute Cemetery at Croc an Raer were read during a simple Remembrance Sunday ceremony.

Tributes are paid every Remembrance Sunday to 30 Merchant Navy seamen from around the world who are interred at North Bute Cemetery at Croc an Raer: here Dan Edgar from the Rotary Club of Rothesay looks back at the newest of the island’s remembrance ceremonies.

Sunday 9 November, 2014: Remembrance Sunday, a special day every year, but particularly poignant this year as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the War that was supposed to end all wars. We may dream but will we ever learn?

A few years ago the Rotary Club of Rothesay decided to honour the men of the Merchant Navy who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Second World War, that we may live in relative peace and security.

Thirty merchant seamen are interred at Croc an Raer. All were killed in attacks on merchant vessels which were brought to nearby Kames Bay for salvage during the Second World War. Twenty-one died on board the whale oil ship SS Coronda after a torpedo attack off Barra Head in September 1940.

From very small beginnings, the Croc an Raer service is now attended by upwards of one hundred people, and involves local children, who place a poppy cross on each of the war graves.

The indiscriminate nature of the casualties in war mean that people from across the world lie in this quiet and quite serene corner of this beautiful Island - so far removed from their homeland and the horrors of conflict and war but a stark reminder of the consequences.

Sunday’s service was introduced by Stewart Shaw, president of the local Rotary club, and the roll of honour was read by club member Bert Alexander, while local piper Ross Hunter played a lament.

Standard bearers from the island’s branch of the Royal British Legion Scotland were in attendance, and wreaths were laid on behalf of local organisations.

It is right that we honour the sacrifice of those men and in so doing the Reverend Owain Jones, in an uplifting address, gave us hope for the future, that one day peace may prevail.