Fair Isle pupils’ war video reaches national final

 

The pupils standing around the Fair Isle War Memorial.  From left: Ythan Shaw, Amber Wiseman, Robyn Wiseman and Maria Vasii.

The pupils standing around the Fair Isle War Memorial. From left: Ythan Shaw, Amber Wiseman, Robyn Wiseman and Maria Vasii.

A film about World War One veterans made by Fair Isle Primary School has been selected as one of the front runners in a national war memorial competition.

The four Fair Isle pupils uncovered real life stories in the competition, part of a campaign by the Royal British Legion Scotland to commemorate the centenary of WWI.

The film was made in partnership with Fair Isle museum and will be part of a display that was presented to the community on Monday night. The display will be unveiled to the public at the museum in May.

Our Boys tells the soldiers’ stories and shows how the loss of life during the war devastated the local community. Pupils filmed interviews with Fair Isle residents and relatives of veterans honoured on the Fair Isle memorial.

Our Boys – Fair Isle & World War One from Fair Isle on Vimeo.

One of the stories uncovered is the tragedy of the McLean brothers who served in the same 44th battalion of a Canadian division. Kenneth and Charles McLean, the sons of the missionary teacher, died three days apart in 1916 at the battle of the Somme. The body of the older brother, Kenneth, was never found. Another brother, Donald, was wounded and off the front line before his brothers were killed.

Local man Brian Wilson is interviewed in the film talking about his Grandfather, William Stewart Eunson, who served in the Royal Naval Reserves in Shetland and died at age 36 in 1916 of meningitis. Mr Eunson was also a grandfather to Fair Isle resident Jimmy Stout.

Head teacher Nicholas Lucas said the bairns were “very proud of what they did and had a good time doing it.”

He added: “Of the 139 residents on Fair Isle at the time 26 went off to World War One and eight never returned. That’s a big part of a small community. People didn’t talk about it. It was so devastating and felt so strongly here. It changed everything on the Island. Speaking to people whose families were affected helped the pupils make a real connection to the War. It really brought it home to them”.

To read more about this story, see Friday’s Shetland Times.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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5 comments

  1. Alistair Duke

    great video never even knew where the Fair Isle was really enjoyed watching it

    is there anything to see on the Isle? would like to visit at some time

    Reply
    • Ingirid Eunson

      Fair Isle is difficult to visit for less than five days as there is so much to see and great people to meet! There are seveal places to stay either B&B (well full board because there is a lack of cafes!) or the Bird Observatory Lodge. The island is know for its textiles, birds, weather!, music and great food.

      Reply
  2. colin webster

    I was interested to hear of the Maclean brothers, having worked with the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1975-1980. I started my service at Rupert’s House (since re-named Waskaganish) and later spent a short time in Fort Albany. Rupert’s House, the company’s first trading post, was established on 24th September, 1668 and King Charles the Second granted a Royal Charter to “The Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudson’s Bay” on 2nd May,1670. Ythan has grown a bit since I saw him coming home on Loganair’s Islander in his mother’s arms on one of my visits to Fair Isle a few years ago. My present home is in Prince George, British Columbia.

    Reply
  3. Ingirid Eunson

    Great video Fair Isle School. Well done.

    Reply
  4. Victoria Fraser

    I heard this news piece on Radio Scotland on the 27th March on my way to work – the music held my attention initially (we had the CD), so much so that I found the link to the school and the video. Seriously good stuff and such excellent work put in by the 4 young pupils. My fingers are crossed that these youngsters go forward to win this and it would be well-deserved. The filming, narrative, historical documentation and music were not only beautiful and informative but also very moving and captured the essence of the island and the subject matter of the piece they were tasked to do. Well done the kids from Fair Isle Primary School and Good Luck!

    Reply

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