Given my fascination with graveyards and the fact that I discussed my visit to a Russian cemetery in my blog post last week, I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite Scottish ones today – Lamlash Cemetery on the Isle of Arran.
Arran is an island off the West Coast of Scotland, two hours from Glasgow by car/train and ferry. It’s known as Scotland in Miniature because anything you can find in Scotland – apart from a major city – can be found on the island. Four thousand year-old standing stones? Check. Iron Age Forts? Check. Mediaeval Castle? Check. Victorian Castle? Check. Palm trees. Palm trees?? Yes, palm trees. Check.
Lamlash Cemetery commands a stunning view. Situated on a softly rising hillside, it overlooks a golf course in one direction and the Holy Isle in Lamlash Bay in the other.
But as someone who loves reading about history of World War Two, what I find most fascinating about the place is a row of war graves. They commemorate the men of RAF Ferry Command whose plane crashed into a foggy mountainside on the island in 1941, shortly after taking off from the mainland. I’ve visited Arran every year since the age of seven, and on each trip I make a pilgrimage to the cemetery to wonder about the stories of the men buried there.
These were men of all ages, nationalities and religion. As well as the two Canadians whose graves are shown here, there was a third Canadian, two Americans and an Australian amongst the Brits. It was their job to ‘ferry’ planes from the factories in North America to Britain. They were returning to North America from one such flight when their plane went down.
I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I ‘remember’ hearing a tale that, following the war, the family of one of the men wanted their son’s remains returned to his home. However, when they visited the cemetery and saw him buried by his comrades in such a peaceful location, they decided to leave him where he lay.
Kirsty Wark, a highly respected TV journalist and fellow Arran-ite, has written a novel which features the plane crash. Entitled The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, it is scheduled for publication on March 13th, so please check it out.
If you would like more information on the events of that crash, please click here and scroll half way down the page.