During the commemorations for WWI, perhaps the most interesting and lasting initiative has been that of the British Government to provide a paving stone for each recipient of the Victoria Cross to be unveiled in the birthplace of the awardee on the anniversary of the action for which he was awarded the UK’s highest award for gallantry.
These ceremonies have all been different and each has been special and poignant in their own way; but one of the most touching was the recent ceremony to commemorate the bravery of Temporary Lieutenant David Lowe McIntyre VC CB. David’s ceremony took place in the small windswept village of Portnahaven on the beautiful island of Islay – the place of his birth in 1895.
Commissioned into The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; David was attached to 1/6th Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry (1/6 HLI) as Adjutant and his acts of amazing bravery over several days led to the success of the Battalion’s advance and the award of the Victoria Cross – David’s citation below records his tremendous gallantry.
David survived the war, entering the Civil Service in the Office of Works, rising to be be Under Secretary for Scotland of the Ministry of Works and appointed as a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). He also found time to join the Home Guard in London during WWII.
The ceremony at Portnahaven was very much a local celebration of the life and achievements of one of their own – after the unveiling, we were treated to a delicious tea in the local village hall and delightful Gaelic singing – both very welcome as the weather had decided to complete the event with a very heavy shower of rain!
However, Islay has at least one other famous son, who is well worth a mention. In common with most parish churches, the famous round church at Bowmore has memorials to men who fell in both World Wars and shows the usual variety of regiments and corps represented. There is also a small frame containing the OBE of the Rev. Dr. Donald Currie Caskie DD OBE OCF. Donald, a Church of Scotland minister and son of Bowmore, was best known for his exploits in France in WWII, during which he helped an estimated 2,000 Allied sailors, soldiers and airmen escape from occupied France (mainly through Spain). He was perhaps better known as “The Tartan Pimpernel”!