For the 100th anniversay of the start of World War I, I wrote a post about an ancester of mine, Kenneth Smith, who died on 1 January 1919, when Her Majesty’s Yacht Iolaire sank after hitting rocks in the mouth Stornoway Harbour. The Iolaire was carrying sailors – who had served in World War I – home, and at least 205 of those on board did not survive. It still remains one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in UK waters.In the comments I mention that my mother pointed out that another ancester also, unfortunately, died in World War I. He was also from the Hebrides and was my mother’s father’s cousin (or my mother’s first cousin, once removed – I think). His name was Alexander Kennedy and was serving at HMS Pembroke, which was a Naval Barracks at Chatham Dockyard (where my father happened to work in the 1960s). On the 3rd of September 1917, the Drill Hall (which was being used as a barracks) was bombed, killing 136, one of whom was Alexander Kennedy.
The reason I’m writing this is because the 100th anniversity of the Chatham Air Raid was last month, and there was a memorial service, to which I was invited. The invitation came as a result of someone noticing my earlier blog post. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it, due to a combination of distance and this being a particularly busy time of the year. However, someone very kindly collected a copy of the Order of Service (with the Roll of Honour) and a knitted poppy with Alexander Kennedy’s name on it (there was a display of poppies; one for each of those who lost their life) and sent them to me.
I always think it’s important to remember those who lost their lives in past conflicts. However, this seems like a particularly important time to remind ourselves of the terrible things we can do to each other and of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.