As the centenary commemorations for the Great War begin to draw to a close, it is worth taking a look at some of the creative projects and works that are emerging from Scotland's islands about the conflict.
At An Lanntair in Lewis the annual literature festival Falcan, running from 31 October to 3 November, will see the launch of a new book by Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John Macleod to mark the 100th anniversary of the Iolaire tragedy. It will chart the events behind the incident and its grim aftermath, in which over 200 men from Lewis and Harris lost their lives just metres from shore when the yacht carrying them home from the First World War was wrecked in a storm on New Year’s Day 1919.
The launch is one of several events taking place at An Lanntair throughout the coming winter to mark the anniversary of an event that had a profound impact on the islands, and represented one of the worst losses in British naval history.
The Iolaire tragedy is also the focus of Donald S. Murray’s forthcoming novel As The Women Lay Dreaming, expected in November and the result of some 10 years gestation by the Lewis-born and now Shetland resident author.
Staying with Shetland, the local library service will publish three new titles to bring the isles' war history to a wider audience. Each appearing in October, they follow Graham Johnston's The Gas War (August 2018), also published by Shetland Library, which charts the remarkable story of two New York City-born and Shetland-raised brothers who joined the Special Brigade and served together in the trenches at the Somme.
The first and perhaps most intriguing of the forthcoming books is a novel by Christian S. Tait entitled And Darkness Fell. Set in 1917 in the isles’ capital Lerwick, it sees a young soldier return to convalesce in his family home. Yet he secrets within himself a horror that threatens to destroy everything they have known.
Shetland Merchant Mariners in the Great War by J. Laughton Johnston will present an account covering 78 local seamen who were lost in action, tracing their life stories and their fates; and That Grim Red Dawn: Shetland's Sacrifice at the Ancre, by local history teacher Jon Sandison, will tell the stories of 22 Shetland men who perished at the Somme on 13 November 1916, the day that saw the most intense loss of life during the four year conflict.