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Sunday, 11 November 2012


Today is Remembrance Day in many countries around the world. A time to remember those fallen in wars past and sadly all to present. I may not agree politically with some conflicts, but I do honour those who are prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and fought for the freedoms I have today (and sadly I too often take for granted.).

And so these photos are kindly provided by A. who lives on Hoy. She and her daughters climbed the hills near their home in search of the remains of planes lost during WWII. Some were Allied Forces, protecting the deep water harbour of Scapa Flow. One was German. All lost their lives in this beautiful but sometimes bleak landscape.

The girls were climbing the hill as one of them is doing a school project  on the planes lost on the hill.  Apparently it is surprising what is still left there. Though the hill is slowly drawing the rusting decaying metal into a soft heathery embrace.

It's extraordinary looking at this peaceful landscape on a calm autumn day and trying to imagine the Flow full of ships. Not to mention the lookout posts at the mouth of the Flow - stationed on Hoy, Stromness (Ness Battery) and Graemsay.  Even local boats and ships needed permits to come into and out of the Flow or risk being blown out the water by defensive fire. (The wee island is Graemsay - click on the image and you can just see the lighthouse, Hoy High).

Because Scapa Flow was a natural deep harbour the "home fleet" were moored here during WWII. Imagine growing up in Orkney at that time, remote from the rest of the UK, and then hundreds of ships and service personnel descend and make this a temporary base.  Imagine living in a wee croft house and instead of only hearing the wind or the sound of the curlew, there is the noise of many ships and forces transport.  Of course this is true of many rural places. But because Orkney is a group of small islands it seems so far removed from fields of battle.  Even Mainland Scotland is in the dim distance only to be made out from the tops of hills on a clear day....

But many Orcadians went away to fight too, in distant lands.  And every year, at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, throughout Orkney, parades and services are held and wreaths laid, to remember those fallen in conflicts past and present...

The parade in Kirkwal (copyright BBC Radio Orkney).

We will remember you....


  1. A lovely post, Sian. There is no part of the UK, no matter how remote, that hasn't been touched by the effects of the two world wars and later conflicts. This morning I stood on a windy hillside in the far north of mainland Scotland for the wreath laying at the local war memorial. So many names from such a small community.

    1. It's always sad to see the names, and often more than one from a family. And to know that these were young men and women in many cases too.

  2. Very poignant, all the acts of remembrance today. I have to admit I cried bucketloads watching the ceremony from the Cenotaph this morning.

    1. I didn't watch this morning, but in the past I too have shed tears. There is something so incredibly moving watching the men and women now old and frail, making the journey to pay their respects.