How it all started

The below article describes how the men from Lewis obediently followed the call to arms from their Government, as described in the below article, transcribed by Comann Eachdraidh Uig.

Enthusiastic demonstration
The Highland News, Saturday 8 August, 1914
Last Sunday [2 August 1914] will be a memorable one in Lewis. During  the night the Mercantile Marine authorities at Stornoway received  instruction to mobilise the Royal Naval Reserve. On Sunday afternoon  motor cars were dispatched to all parts of the island with notices  summoning the men to report themselves at Stornoway, but earlier in the  day the news had become generally known through intimations made from  the pulpits of the various churches, all the ministers having been  officially wired to, asking them to announce the mobilisation. The  proclamation affected not only every hamlet in Lewis but practically  every family in the island.

How often have successive Governments been reminded in memorials from  the crofters and fishermen of Lewis, as a claim to have their  grievances remedied, that the “entire manhood of the island was trained  to arms?” in this statement there was no exaggeration, for out of a  rural population of 26,000, some 2000 men are connected with the Royal  Naval Reserve, while about 1200 are enlisted in the Seaforth, Cameron  and Gordon Militias, besides which the island contributes its fair quota  to the regular Army and Navy.
The commotion occasioned in the homes of Lewis by this unprecedented  breach in the customary Sabbath calm may be imagined. The men themselves  made a commendably prompt response, practically every available man  having found his way to Stornoway by Monday evening.

“And they left their nets”
On Sunday the Customs officers and police visited the fishing boats  lying at Stornoway and instructed all Naval Reservists, no matter where  they hailed from, to report themselves at the Mercantile Marine Office,  and about fifty men from the boats were thus sent away by the mail  steamer that night, en route for Chatham. Many of the fishermen had to  go leaving their nets on the fields where they had spread them on  Saturday, while a number of the East Coast boats have to lay up here on  account of their crews being depleted. As for the local fleet, with the  exception of time-expired Reservists, hardly a fisherman is left.

On Monday 430 men were sent on to Chatham where they will meet with  hundreds more of Lewismen who were called up at Fraserburgh, Peterhead  and other fishing ports, as well as Rosyth, etc.* The men who were  conveyed across the Minch by the steamers Claymore and Sheila, had an  enthusiastic send-off. The cheers of the large crowds which gathered at  the steamers’ quay were joined by the sirens of the steam drifters and  other shipping which kept up a deafening din till the steamers had  rounded the beacon.
The mobilisation of the Militias and Territorials, after the Naval  Reservists, has practically denuded Lewis of its able-bodied male  population. It is safe to say that no other district in the British  Isles has contributed its manhood in such proportion as Lewis.

* Those working at mainland ports such as Fraserburgh were not  allowed to return home first, but were required to report immediately to  the depot.

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