Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Orkney At War (May-July 1915)

Here are a few items from our fourth instalment of our Orkney At War exhibition. These archive items are taken from records during May, June and July of 1915. We continue with the diaries of James Marwick and Margaret Tait and find out about problems with meat inspection in Kirkwall, the water supply in Stromness, submarine attacks off Caithness, an escaped prisoner of war, enrolment of boys on trawlers, eggs for soldiers and see a few of the men of Orkney serving in and sadly dying in the war.


From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall (Archive Ref. D1/525)
7 May 1915  Monday 3rd was feeing market day and although the day was very fine very few people were in town. The farmers are late in getting in their crop so that stopped the people from coming to town. On Monday morning a german submarine was supposed to be in Kirkwall Bay and 6 British Destroyers were racing up and down and out and in among the other ships in the Bay at full speed. The weather has taken a turn for the better and now it is quite warm and summer like. Had a walk up past the back of the hospital and saw my old home. The fields were looking fine and all covered with daisies and the sun was shining brightly. These last few days we’ve been very busy preparing our things for the sale today. We will just have 3 weeks in this house now. Everything is turned upside down even now.

Orcadians serving in the war, kept in a scrapbook by Dr. Duncan, Stromness. (Archive Ref. D1/1127)


From the Diary of James Marwick, Lieut/Capt. O.R.G.A (T) (Archive Ref. D1/1118) Friday, 7-5-15  Very fine and warm. / Officer of day. Barton & Harris here. Marked store near Mess as a "bench" mark for levelling purposes. Denison & I put a rope around it. / Football match, Territorials v. Marines. The former won 2-0. On watch tonight I got word of the torpedoing of the S.S. "Lustitania" off Irish coast. She was struck by 2 torpedoes & sank in 20". There was a terrible loss of life among passengers. Bore stopped. It is now fully 25 feet down.

Orcadians serving in the war, kept in a scrapbook by Dr. Duncan, Stromness. (Archive Ref. D1/1127)


From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall.(Archive Ref. D1/525)
8 May 1915  Last evening I went out to buy lard and met Rita Middleton. We both went up to the Temperance Hall to see how the sale was going. There I met Mrs. Middleton, squeezed into a seat beside her and remained there for the rest of the evening. I did not get my lard but enjoyed the sale immensely. When I got home at 9.30 everyone was out, the house in darkness and the fire out. The Lusitania was sunk yesterday, 19 hundred passengers on board, 500 of whom are supposed to have been saved. No particulars to hand yet except that she was torpedoed by a german submarine in the Atlantic. How dreadful to thing of so many innocent lives lost quite needlessly. I hope the Germans will get their just deserts. What a crowd of sailors and provision men are ashore today.

Orcadians serving in the war, kept in a scrapbook by Dr. Duncan, Stromness. (Archive Ref. D1/1127)



From the Diary of James Marwick, Lieut/Capt. O.R.G.A. (T) (Archive Ref. D1/1118)

Saturday, 8-5-15  Fine - bought ½ cwt Sugar at 2½lb & and sent it home, also some dirty clothes, by Harvey the well borer who left today. He finished the bore head and built a few stones around it finishing it off with a big flat stone ready for the pump. / I got a decanter & glass from Nobby Clark. / Man lost off a trawler near Switha island. He was picked up but died later.


Orcadians killed in the war, kept in a scrapbook by Dr. Duncan, Stromness. (Archive Ref. D1/1127)


From the Diary of James Marwick, Lieut/Capt. O.R.G.A. (T)  (Archive Ref. D1/1118) Friday, 14-5-15 Snow showers. / Things are very dull and lifeless her which combined with a want of friendliness among officers make life very dreary. I wish I could get a shift from here. It is over 4 months since I came here. / Goliath sunk in Dardanelles.

Stromness Town Council, 19th May 1915   (Archive Ref. S1/5, page 152)
Water Supply. An application from the Admiralty to connect with the watermain at the Mineral Well for a pipe running to the vicinity of the Braehead.

                                                                   
From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall (Archive Ref. D1/525)  Tuesday 25 May 1915 Weather raw and misty. Everything is turned upside down and the house is strewed with packing boxes. Mrs. Wallis has left for good. I wish we were across the street too. Italy has now declared war with Austria. Got a headache.
From the Diary of James Marwick, Lieut/Capt O.R.G.A. (T) (Archive Ref. D1/1118) Wed. , 26-5-15 N. wind – dull and overcast. / was a walk round S. Head and picked Mayflowers also roots. Read a book called “Wrack” which is cleverly written but of questionable quality otherwise. / When round the Head I met a young marine with two hawk’s eggs (kestrel). H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth came in today.

Royal Naval Reserve Letter (Archive Ref. CE55/4/31, page 110) Enrolment of boys in the trawlers section


From the Diary of James Marwick, Lieut/Capt O.R.G.A. (T) (Archive Ref. D1/1118)  Tuesday, 1st June  Fine day. –was fishing off rocks and altogether caught 43 cuithes/ letters from home. M. coming on Saturday if weather suitable/ Sent home my bank book. Ian Barclay here and he took my letter down. I got a drenching down by a wave[This is the last entry we have for James Marwick's diary. He was posted overseas not long after this date.]
From the Orcadian 19th June 1915
EGGS FOR OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS AND SAILORS IN HOSPITAL
Dear Sir - I am pleased to say that the appeal made to the good people of Orkney has met with a magnificent response. Mrs Brownlee, president of the ladies' Guild U.F. Church, Stronsay, indicates that three boxes, containing in all 300 dozen eggs, have been despatched and Mr William Muir, merchant, Sanday, Orkney has also been sent a box, collected from a few customers in his district. Mrs Irvine U.F. Manse, South Ronaldsay, has also done magnificent work in securing and forwarding eggs for the wounded here. Unfortunately our wounded are increasing while our supplies in the south have been falling off so that the very large donations that have come from northern isles keeps us in a fairly good supply. We cannot get too many eggs for the wounded and I hope the liberality of the Orcadians will still be made manifest by further contributions as they can conveniently spare the eggs. I take this opportunity of thanking all the contributors who co-operated in making the collections such a success. Thank you for your kind courtesy in allowing me the use of your columns, I am yours faithfully, John Dobbie, manager, No. 6 National depot, 24 Elbe Street, Leith
Kirkwall Town Council, 30th June 1915 (Archive Ref. K1/1/17) Request by the HM Navy for a stricter inspection of Naval Meat Contracts and for the meat to be stamped for easier identification.

From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall  (Archive Ref. D1/525)  5 July 1915 What a time we’ve had this last month. The masons are in every room but 2 bedrooms and these 2 are filled up with the furniture and things out of the other rooms that we only have room to stand up and dress or undress. Lime, plaster, stones and old wood are lying about and the whole place looks as if a cyclone had passed through. I’ve spent a lot of time down in the garden which is flooded with sunshine. The weather has been perfect up till a day or two ago, since when it’s rained all the time. Was at a social last Friday night in the St. Magnus Church Hall. The Queen Elizabeth (Dreadnought) has been lying at Scapa lately. Saw one of her officers in the shop on Saturday. The Archbishop of York has been visiting the Territorials at Flotta last week.

From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall (Archive Ref. D1/525)  11 July 1915  King George paid a visit to Stanger Head Battery on Friday and I understand has left again for the south. The Flotta people have been highly honoured. He didn’t come to Kirkwall. Such wet, murky weather we’ve had lately, with no signs of drying up.
Royal Naval Reserve Memo, 12th July 1915. ( Archive Ref. CE55/4/31, p116) Notice of an escaped Prisoner of War

From the Diary of Margaret Tait, sister to James Tait, cabinet maker, Kirkwall (Archive Ref. D1/525)  18 July 1915  (Sunday) Last Wednesday the shop was moved across from No.6 to this place which is not nearly ready nor will be for some time. However they have done a lot and improved it greatly. During these war times the motor cars etc. have all got patriotic flags stuck up in front, some have only the Union Jack, others have France, Russia and Belgium also. Saturday was French Flag Day, the school children were selling flags in the street for a penny each, the money collected being sent to help the French nation in their present crisis. Tartan seems to be all the vogue at present, in all the drapers windows you see little tartan bows or ties, vanity bags etc. of all the different clans. Thursday was St. Swithins Day and a lovely day throughout.
Stromness Town Council minute, 22nd July 1915 (Archive Ref. S1/5, page 159-160) Water Supply  An Application to use water for non-domestic use was refused by the local council on this day, while the present demand for water was made by the navy.




This is just a small selection of the items shown in our display for May, June, July 1915. Please do come in, if you can, to view the rest.
 


No comments:

Post a comment

Are you delighted by what you have just read? Are you revulsed and appalled? Do let us know, we'd love to hear from you.