[from Ellan Vannin vol 3 #9 p361/367 Dec 1928]
[Note only the first part given here ever appeared, as B.E.Sargeaunt's Book on the same topic had appeared in 1922 either this was written prior to that date and then shelved or otherwise the non-mention of Sargeaunt's book is very strange.]
By the late Mr. Goldie-Taubman, President of the World Manx Association.
To Manx men and women in all parts of the world I recommend a careful study of this book, which contains an authentic account of the magnificent and unselfish effort of the little Manx Nation to assist the Mother County in its hour of need. It is to be hoped that this book will become a standard of reference for future generations of our people and a fitting memorial to our brave sons who lost their lives in the Great War, 1914 to 1918.
The Nunnery, Isle of Man.
By The Deemster Farrant and Miss Paton.
For some time we have been of opinion that a reliable account, compiled so far as possible from authentic sources, of the part played by the Manx Nation during the Great European War should he available for the benefit of our people both at home and abroad. The whole of the facts concerning the number of men who enlisted and the honours won by them should not be forgotten. So far, our activities in these directions, which, of necessity, were so scattered and absorbed into the huge fighting machine of the Empire, have not received the notice to which they are entitled. The Committees of the I.o.M. War Pensions and the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association have decided to attempt to remedy this, and have enlisted the assistance of their Secretary, Mr. D. Kissack, who has been connected from the beginning with almost all the organisations brought into being by the War. From the records in his possession and elsewhere, we have tried to place before you a concise account, so far as official facts and figures are available, showing the Islands contributions in men and money during the Great War. At the outset it was found that Mr. Kissacks records showed only the number of men actually residing in the Island at the time of their enlistment. No records are available at present regarding those Manxmen who enlisted from the mainland, the Colonies, and abroad. At some future date it is hoped to collect reliable data as to these men. This would be an interesting supplement to the book, and thus make a complete record. As indicated above, it is only proposed to deal with our direct assistance to the fighting forces. No attempt is made to deal with the numerous civilian and other efforts which, in some cases, are dealt with by other publications.
R. D. FARRANT, SYBIL PATON,
Chairman Isle of Man War Pensions Committee, and Chairwoman Soldiers and Sailors Families Association, Isle of Man Branch.
BEFORE AND AFTER THE DECLARATION OF W1\R.
JULY, 1914, in the Isle of Man, witnessed scenes of the greatest activity in the visiting industry and all concerned with it. The summer of 1913 was unexampled for the number of visitors, the records showing that 615,726 people had landed on these shores. After a long winter and spring, during which work and money were none too plentiful, everyone was looking forward hopefully to the summer season. Everything pointed to the Island enjoying the most prosperous season in its history as a visiting resort. The Island was thronged with happy holiday crowds. The transport companies were working at top pressure to cope with the large numbers of visitors, and looking forward with some diffidence as to their ability to deal with the anticipated record August rush. Large sums of money had been expended and extra staffs engaged by the hotels, boarding-houses, and all the other concerns connected with the catering of visitors. In some quarters uneasiness was felt as to the Islands resources to accommodate so many thousands of extra people. During those momentous final days of the month, when all Europe held its breath, the holiday spirit of the vast crowd here became more subdued not so much, apparently, at the prospect of War as at the difficulty of being able to return home. They held on, however, in a more sobered state of mind, fervently hoping that the threatened calamity would not materialise. Confidence was to some extent restored by the arrival on the Island on the 1st August Bank Holiday Saturday) of 26,002 people, a decrease of 3,854 on the same day the previous year, hut a wonderful record in view of the extreme nervous tension prevailing on the mainland at the time. The first real misgivings arose with the mobilisation of the Royal Naval Reservists, who had received urgent instructions to report to their depots immediately, and Sunday, the 2nd August, 1914, witnessed the departure of 85 men, mostly taken at a moments notice from their employment on our steamers, fishing vessels, and pleasure yachts. Then the crowd began to grow restive as events became alarmingly worse, and a great exodus for home set in . Fortunately in that respect, there was no corresponding return traffic, and the shipping companies were able to concentrate on the one way route. Quite a large number, however, stayed here, but their numbers were not supplemented, as those about to proceed on holiday stayed at home until things had definitely cleared up. As is known, this meant, in the majority of cases, a postponement for five years of a holiday which, when it came, was held under very different circumstances. On the 4th of August, 1914, the final and inevitable Declaration of War was received. The bulk of our food supplies coming from the mainland, and in the turmoil of an upheaval such as had never been experienced or even dreamed of, it was feared the little Island would have to take its chance while the authorities were grappling with the larger and more important issues at stake. However, after recovering from the first effects of the shock, the people of the Island settled down in earnest determination to the business of doing its share towards helping the Empire, and they were amongst the first to appreciation that the task would be a lengthy and difficult one. Recruiting posters blazoned everywhere. inviting and urging every man between the ages of 19 and 41 "to do his bit." A recruiting office was opened in the Westminster Bank Chambers, in charge of Major J. D. Hamilton, and he and the late Doctor T. A. Woods, assisted by several others, did yeoman service in coping with the unprecedented numbers who turned up and were quickly drafted into the various regiments in which vacancies were available. In those early days the medical test was of a high standard, and it says much for the health and constitution of our men that there were exceedingly few rejections on account-of physical imperfections. Recruiting went on at a great pace, and there was keen rivalry all over the United Kingdom for the honour of having the largest percentage of enlistments. The figures given at the time showed that Manchester was top of the list, with this little Island running a close second59.7 per cent. against their 61.3 per cent.
OUR FIRST EFFORTS TO ASSIST THE MOTHER COUNTRY.
In addition to the satisfactory recruiting records mentioned in the previous chapter, our own Territorial Force, the 7th V.B. (Kings) Liverpool Regiment (popularly known as "the Isle of Man Volunteers "), supplemented by the recruitment of 47 eligible young men belonging to the various Church Lads Brigades, and comprising 132 men of all ranks, under three officers, were mobilised immediately, and during the first few weeks of the War were placed on duty to guard the public buildings of the Island. To assist Lord Kitcheners appeal for men, this company arranged a "recruiting march" round the island, and so many enlistments were received that it became necessary to form a new company, which was called "B Company." The men were billeted at Belmont, Douglas, and went into immediate training for active service under Sergeant-Major (afterwards Major Ryan, a gentleman previously connected with the Officers Training Corps at King Williams College, Castletown, and who, at a later date, found his way to America to train American troops, when that country eventually decided to enter the War on the side of the Allies. About this time, arrangements had also been made by the Imperial Government for utilising the Island as a place of detention for the civilian prisoners of war, and for this purpose the well-known Cunningham's Holiday Camp was requisitioned, and was soon filled with several thousands of aliens who had been rounded up in Great Britain. The Isle of Man Volunteers were called upon to guard this Camp, and, later on, when another huge camp was established at Knockaloe, near Peel, they were also put in charge there until arrangements had been made for handing over the custody to the National Guards (afterwards the Royal Defence Corps), a regiment of elderly veterans well over the military age, and the most of whom had seen active service in previous wars, notably the South African and the Egyptian and Sudan campaigns. By the end of February, 1915, the National Guard had arrived in sufficient numbers to release the Manx companies, and, after weeding out those unfitted for active service (who were transferred into the National Guard), 160 of our men left the Island on the 6th March, 1915, for the mainland to undergo rigorous training. On arriving at Bidston Camp, near Birkenhead, they were transferred into the 16th Kings) Liverpool Regiment, and their numbers made up to company strength by the addition of mainland recruits. After finishing their training they were converted into the 2nd company of the Cheshire Regiment, the "Three Legs forming an integral part of their badges, and left England for Salonlica on the 2nd January, 1916, where the bulk of them remained until the Armistice. The climatic conditions of the Balkans levied a far heavier toil than the actual fighting, and the whole company had a really serious time with malarial fever the effects of which ore felt even to this day. In the Autumn of 1917 about 40 of them were sent to France for malarial treatment and training, and during the great German offensive in the spring of 1918 these men were, at very short notice, hurriedly drafted into numerous other regiments, as the exigencies of the occasion demanded, and sent into the fighting line.
By the end of December, 1914, the tragedy of the War began to be felt in many homes in the Island, and our little nation was beginning to pay its toll in suffering and misery. Up to the 31st December, 1914, 81 Manxmen had been killed, 10 had died of disease or accident, 29 were prisoners of war, and 126 had been wounded. The painful spectacle of young men walking about on crutches or minus an arm or leg began to be evident.
(To be continued.) - no continuation appeared as #9 was the last issue