I wonder how often folk have driven past the Ardgour War Memorial and never paid it much attention. This was certainly the case for me, having passed it countless times on my way to and from the Corran Ferry, until one day when I found myself with some spare time at the marshalling area on the Ardgour side of the Corran Narrows. After deciding to go for a quick walk, I found myself up on a bank just south of the lighthouse, standing beside the War Memorial and looking southwards at an expansive view of Loch Linnhe. While standing there, I spotted something that I would later learn played a small part in a huge project that is thought to have been key in bringing World War I to an end.
The Ardgour War Memorial is typical of the many that you find scattered across the Highlands, consisting of a granite Celtic cross and plinth mounted on a base of what seems to be made of local stone. Whilst here, I took a moment to stand by it with my eye drawn to the wreath of red poppies that had been laid at the base of the cross and to the words inscribed on the plinth beneath it:
PARISH OF ARDGOUR
THE GREAT WAR 1914-18
DO'N GHINEALACH A RINN ÌOBAIRT SADH FHUILING
CRUADAL, S A SHEALBHAICH BUAIDH
TO THE GENERATION WHICH BORE THE SACRIFICES
AND BY SHARING IN THE HARDSHIPS, ACHIEVED VICTORY
I then noticed that the Memorial’s stone base was sitting on what appeared to be a metal ring with several bolts protruding from it. I didn’t give them much thought at the time, but a day or two later, I couldn’t help wondering what they had been used for, so decided to try and found out.
The mines were being used in the North Sea Mine Barrage, a large minefield laid easterly from the Orkney Islands, right across the top of the North Sea to Norway with the aim of preventing the U-Boats based in Germany from making their way out into the Atlantic to attack the convoys that were bringing supplies from the United States to the British Isles.
I took these words for the image title from the seventh stanza of the poem, “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon, which reads:
“As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.”
The poem is more commonly known for its third and fourth stanzas as they are often recited at Remembrance Day services as what is termed the "Ode of Remembrance", ending with the familiar words “We will remember them”.
Despite the words of these two stanzas being extremely thought provoking, I find the words of the seventh stanza incredibly moving because there is such strong sense of poignancy to them. I guess that’s why I used them as the title for this image.