Scotland`s War Memorials
Argyll & Bute
Bute & the Other Islands
I have a large collection of War Memorial images, both in the UK and abroad and this section is due to be revamped with memorials listed in their respective regional locations etc* This page covers War Memorials in .
Intro etc * I`ve divided the County into two sections: This one covers Bute and the Other Islands with a separate post for Mull. Click here for (Link) Mainland locations in the county.
This is the War Memorial at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute which commemorates local residents who served in the Armed Services in both World Wars and lost their lives. It is located on the Esplanade near the Pier and is referred to as "The Angel" by many locals. The winged figure, sculpted by Charles Pilkington Jackson, is intended to represent Sacrifice rather than Victory, which is quite apt considering the large casualty list for what is a comparatively small island.
Immediately following the declaration of war, Bute`s Reserves and Territorials mobilised. On Wednesday 12th August 1914, 300 men, 130 horses, 4 guns, waggons and ammunition of the Bute Battery sailed for Greenock and continued on to Inverness for training. On 9th October the first wounded soldiers returned to Mount Stuart which the Marquess of Bute had given up for a hospital. On 21st October 1914, Corporal Donald MacLean became the first Bute man to fall and in 1917 Bute lost 109 men, the largest toll in any one year. In 1919 there were fourteen further deaths, mostly due to illness, making a total of 300 men from the island who had died by the end of WWI. The WW2 casualty list is also large.
This memorial stands in Port Bannatyne, a coastal village which lies to the north of the island`s capital, Rothesay, and lists `The Men of North Bute who Gave Their Lives for King and Country in the Great War 1914-1919.` There is a separate memorial on the opposite side of the road dedicated to the crews of the midget submarines who died during the Second World War.
The Firth of Clyde was the primary training area for these vessels. X-craft (the British code name for midget submarines) were developed for attacks on naval targets in difficult waters when other options such as bombing or ground assault were ruled out due to distance, enemy defences or restrictions imposed by the terrain. The X-craft and human torpedoes known as Chariots were developed from the Italian machines which had sunk the battleships HMS Valiant and HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Mediterranean in December 1941.
The hotel used by the Royal Navy as HMS Varbel has long since been demolished, however, the bell from the station was saved and is on display within the small but excellent Bute Museum. The bell originally belonged to the London Merchant which was renamed SS Politician in 1935. The vessel, bound for the USA, sank off Eriskay in February 1941 with a precious cargo of whisky much of which was salvaged by the islanders! The incident was immortalised in Compton Mackenzie`s novel Whisky Galore. It is unclear exactly how the bell ended up at the Naval Station on Bute.
The unit`s midget submarines and human torpedoes went on to operate in Norway, Italy and the Far East. HMS Varbel was named after the combined names of Commander Varley and Commander Bell, who were credited with designing the original midget submarine.
The waters of the Firth of Clyde were ideal for training as the deeply indented coastline with narrow sea lochs could replicate the Norwegian Fjords where the biggest individual threat to Allied shipping lay - the formidable Tirpitz. Loch Cairnbawn, a sea loch in northwest Sutherland near Kylesku, was another location where training took place.
The following shots are of vessels training in Loch Striven during WW2. The first shows divers on their Chariot craft as it begins to descend below the surface with a substantial covering of snow on the hills in the background. The other shows X-Craft 25 with Lieut J. E. Smart, RNVR, the Commanding Officer, on deck by the conning tower. The dates were not recorded.
Please bear in mind that all images on this website are Copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark. Any historic photographs from the Imperial War Museum and other organisations` collections have been used courtesy of a `Share & Reuse` policy and are also subject to copyright restrictions.
An aerial view of Port Bannatyne and Kames Bay. The Kyles of Bute and the entrance to Loch Striven can be seen in the distance. During the war a satellite base for X-craft training known as HMS Varbel II had been set up at Artarig House at the north end of the loch.
Conventional submarines had been a regular feature in the waters around Bute since June 1940 when the 7th Submarine Flotilla moved to Rothesay Bay from Portland in Dorset with the submarine depot ship HMS Cyclops (left) providing support.
Varbel II was primarily a training facility with operational submarines of the 3rd Flotilla based in the Holy Loch near Dunoon where the depot ship HMS Forth took up station before replacing HMS Cyclops (F31) off Bute in 1945. Over the years that followed the depot ship role was filled by HMS Montclare then HMS Adamant. The latter vessel moved with her submarines to Faslane on the Gareloch in October 1957.
The crew of X-Craft 25 `Xema`at Rothesay. Left to right; ERA H. J. Fishliegh, Sub Lieut H. Harper, RNVR, and Lieut J. E. Smart, RNVR.
The mouth of Loch Striven is left of centre in this aerial view. Much of the X-Craft training activity took place in these waters and the loch was also used to test Highball, a follow-up to the Barnes Wallis bouncing bomb, successfully used in the Dambusters Raid of 1943.
It was realised that a similar, much smaller weapon could potentially damage and hopefully destroy moored battleships as the bombs could skip over anti-torpedo nets. As a result numerous tests were carried out over the loch by three modified Mosquitoes of 618 Squadron based at RAF Turnberry, near Girvan in Ayrshire.
An old French Navy battleship was moored in Loch Striven to act as a target and despite it being surrounded by large catchment nets, numerous re-usable dummy practice bombs out of a total of over 200 dropped ended up on the seabed. Despite extensive trials, the Highball bouncing bombs were never used in anger. After V.E. Day, the Highball squadron moved to the Pacific with the intention of attacking Japanese warships, but the Japanese surrendered before missions were planned.
Right: Mosquito B Mark IV development aircraft, DK290/G of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment based at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, in flight following modification to its deepened bomb bay to accommodate two 'Highball' weapons for trials.
Recent scans plotted the position of many of these weapons, as well as the possible wreck of a Chariot or X-Craft midget submarine, and In July 2017, a team of divers from the Royal Navy and members of the British Sub-Aqua Club successfully recovered two of the practice Highballs and hope to recover others. After cleaning and restoration the rust-encrusted bombs will be placed on display, one at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey and the other at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire.
Although Tirpitz, sister-ship to the Bismark, never saw action against an Allied convoy or battle fleet by 1944 she was the last heavy warship left to the Kriegsmarine and too great a threat for the British to ignore. Her activities, restricted severely by the availability of fuel oil, were limited to scurrying from one Norwegian fjord to another and making furtive excursions which ended as soon as danger approached. However, the potential of an attack by the Tirpitz against the Arctic convoys was always one of the Admiralty`s main concerns.
Several bombing raids had failed to damage the Tirpitz and in mid-summer 1942, along with the pocket-battleship Admiral Scheer and the heavy cruiser Hipper, she sortied from Altenfjord on the North Cape. On 4 July, as Convoy PQ-17, ploughed through the Barents Sea bound for Archangel, word was received that the German warships were no longer in their anchorage. The British naval force providing protection were drastically outgunned with no chance of reinforcement from the Home Fleet and the Admiralty ordered the escort to withdraw westwards, possibly to at least stall the German warships, while the merchantmen were told to scatter.
Tirpitz and her escorts were recalled the following day, still miles away from the convoy, but her potential intervention had the desired effect. German submarines and aircraft were able to ruthlessly pick-off the lone tankers and cargo vessels in the twenty-four hour Arctic daylight. The result was that 24 out of 35 merchant ships were lost.
In October 1942 an attempt was made to cripple the Tirpitz by Chariot attack while she lay in a fjord near Trondheim. Two of the human torpedoes were strapped underneath a fishing boat which made it to within five miles of the target, however, a violent storm caused the Chariots to break free and the mission was aborted. All but one of the six British frogmen involved managed to reach Sweden after they put ashore.
In September 1943, following months of preparation, parent submarines towing six X-Craft, each with a four-man crew, set off for Norway for another attack. Only two eventually made it to their target and placed their charges which caused serious if not fatal damage. (These images show part of the Bute Museum`s X-craft display). It was a remarkable achievement and the warship was put out of action for six months and didn`t leave her anchorage until April 1944. Following the action, various medals were awarded to the X-craft crews including two VCs.
Below: On display at the Submarine Museum in Gosport is X24, the only remaining example of a British X-Craft that saw service during the Second World War.
Following the success of other midget submarine raids X24 took part in two operations to penetrate Bergen harbour and destroy the Laksevaag floating dock which was used to carry out repairs to U-boats. Bergen was the most heavily defended occupied Norwegian port.
Although the damage caused by the X-craft crews wasn`t sufficient to sink the Tirpitz it did result in crippling damage which severely limited her ability to manoeuvre. This meant she was particularly vulnerable to air attack and a number of large scale raids were mounted. This remarkable colour image from the Imperial War Museum archives shows Fleet Air Arm personnel fusing bombs for Fairey Barracudas on the flight deck of HMS Victorious in April 1944, before `Operation Tungsten', another attack on the German battleship while she was still in Alten Fjord.
It was RAF Lancasters that dealt the German warship its fatal blow. On 12 November 1944, two 12,000 pound (5,400 kg)`Tallboy` bombs, another Barnes Wallis creation, struck the ship with another exploding nearby. The warship quickly rolled over trapping most of her crew in the upturned hull.
These shots show the German battleship Tirpitz, lying capsized in in Tromso fjord, attended by a salvage vessel. The already damaged ship was finally sunk in a combined daylight attack by Nos. 9 and 617 Squadrons RAF on 12 November 1944 during `Operation Catechism`. The hole in the bottom hull plates by the starboard propeller shaft was cut by the Germans to allow access to salvage crews.
In the aftermath of the attack, 82 men trapped in the upturned warship were rescued. Figures for the death toll vary from approximately 950 to 1,204. An estimated 200 survivors of the sinking were transferred to serve on the heavy cruiser Lützow in January 1945.
The Port Bannatyne Memorial Garden dedicated to the men of the Midget Submarines (X-Craft) was unveiled in 2005.
This is a foliage-covered model submarine which may not be immediately obvious due to the cluttered background. It`s made from a frame covered with chicken-wire. Slates bear the code numbers of all X-craft lost.
Additional images of War Memorials can be found on my blog, Clydeside Images.com. Further War Memorial and Military History content, not exclusively relating to Scotland, may also feature in the galleries of individual countries on this site. Also, check out my Stock Photography Archive for even more shots.
This memorial commemorates the residents of the Parish of Kingarth on the Isle of Bute who were killed or recorded as missing in World War I (32 names) and World War II (11 names). The freestanding Celtic Cross, set in a triangular garden at the junction of the A844, stands a mile north of Kingarth. The location has open views over the southern end of the island and out across the water to Arran.
Listed among the WW2 casualties is Leading Wren Heather Mowbray Smail, Women`s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) of HMS Assegai. She died, aged 20, on 12 February 1944 when the troopship she was travelling on, SS Khedive Ismail, was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine. Formerly SS Aconcagua, Khedive Ismail was a converted ocean liner built in 1922 by Scott`s Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Greenock. In April 1941 Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia and Greece, in the latter country`s case making rapid advances towards Athens. Following 10 days of fierce fighting, the decision was taken to evacuate 60,000 British, Australian and New Zealand troops from the Greek ports. Khedive Ismail was one of several troop ships that took part in the operation, during which she was strafed by Luftwaffe aircraft in the eastern Peloponnese, wounding several of those on board. The vessel subsequently relocated to the Indian Ocean where she spent the following two years.
On 5 February 1944 Khedive Ismail left Mombasa bound for Colombo in convoy, escorted by the heavy cruiser HMS Hawkins and destroyers HMS Paladin and HMS Petard. She was carrying 1,324 passengers including 996 members of the East African Artillery's 301st Field Regiment, 271 Royal Navy personnel, 19 WRNS, 53 nursing sisters and their matron, nine members of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and a war correspondent, Kenneth Gandar-Dower.
Early in the afternoon of Saturday 12 February, after a week at sea, the convoy was in waters south-west of the Maldives when Japanese Type B1 submarine I-27 launched its attack. Two of its torpedoes struck Khedive Ismail and she sank within 3 minutes, leaving insufficient time to launch lifeboats.
The I-27 was depth-charged and forced to the surface after which the two destroyers engaged her with their 4-inch (100 mm) guns. An abortive attempt to ram the enemy vessel by HMS Paladin tore a 15-foot (4.6 m) gash in the destroyer`s hull. I-27 submerged again and its commander positioned his boat beneath the survivors. The destruction of a submarine that might sink more ships took precedence over the lives of survivors, so reluctantly the warships resumed their attack, depth charge explosions sealing the fate of many passengers who had survived the initial sinking.
A torpedo finally destroyed I-27, sinking her with all hands, ending the battle which had lasted two and a half hours. HMS Hawkins is pictured above.
Of 1,511 people aboard Khedive Ismail, only 208 men and 6 women survived the ordeal. Casualties recorded were 1,220 men and 77 women killed, making the sinking the third-largest loss of life from Allied shipping in World War II and the largest loss of servicewomen in the history of the Commonwealth of Nations.
Wren Heather Mowbray Smail, whose body was never found, is also commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Kent.
The Iona War Memorial was unveiled on 7 July 1921. Its interlaced design was taken from an old slab in the Nunnery. As well as name and unit, this war memorial records the age and rank of the men who lost their lives. Ships are also listed. The front pedestal lists the WWI dead with the dedication at the base while the sides of the pedestal bear the names of those who died during the Second World War.
WWI Roll of Honour:
Black. Dugald. (23) Seaforth Highlanders Corporal
Black. William. (21) Seaforth Highlanders Private Canada
Campbell. Duncan A. (43) Merchant Navy Seaman S.S. Dartmoor
Lee. Hector MacLean. (23) Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders Lieutenant
MacDonald. Hugh. (39) Merchant Navy Captain S.S. Garmoyle
MacDonald. John. (24) Highland Light Infantry Lance Corporal
MacDonald. Lachlan. (18) Highland Light Infantry Private
MacFarlane. John. (35) Merchant Navy Carpenter S.S. Vine Branch
MacFarlane. Neil. (29) Royal Navy Seaman H.M.S. Victory
MacKechnie. Angus MacPhail. (20) Highland Light Infantry Signaller
Williams. Alfred MacArthur. (19) East Surrey Regiment Private
WWII Roll of Honour:
Black. Donald A. (33) Merchant Navy Second Officer S.S. Rio Blanco
Black. Neil J. (27) Merchant Navy Able Seaman Geraldine Mary
Campbell. Robert. (24) Cameronians Corporal
Dougall. George. (29) Royal Navy Leading Stoker H.M.S. Glorious
MacArthur. Douglas. (42) Royal Naval Reserve C/Skipper H.M.S. James Lidford
MacColl. Colin C. (23) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Flying Officer
MacDonald. Colin. (29) Frontier Battalion Sudan, Bimbashi (Major) Sudan Defence Force
MacDonald. Donald. (42) Merchant Navy Captain S.S. Blair Esk
MacDonald. Donald C. (29) Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Lieutenant
MacDonald. Gregor. (28) New Zealanders Private 19th Wellington R. Battalion N.Z.E.F.
MacFarlane. John N. (30) Royal Navy Able Seaman S.T. Flying Kite
MacGregor. John. (50) Merchant Navy Boatswain S.S. Ben Lomond
MacInnes. John. (31) Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders 2nd Lieutenant 2nd Battalion A&SH
MacLachlan. Neil A. (31) Merchant Navy Chief Officer S.S. Empire City
McAllister. Anthony C. (48) Merchant Navy Engineer S.S. Loch Maddy
Patterson. John W. (24) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve Flying Officer D.F.C.
As is often the case in West Coast island communities, the largest percentage of casualties in both World Wars were lost serving with either the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy. The gravestone with anchor and rope below obviously marks the last resting place of another one of the island`s seafaring men.
The Tiree War Memorial is located at Scaranish, which is where the ferries dock. The island is relatively low-lying and is 22 miles west of the nearest mainland at Ardnamurchan. Like most of these remote island communities during both World Wars Tiree paid a high cost, especially considering its small population. Panels commemorate the Fallen from both major conflicts. I stopped here during an all-day cruise on the Waverley which can just be seen in the distance, on the right hand side of the memorial.