A young Skye man, whose death at the Battle of Festubert in May 1915 has become synonymous with the island’s losses in the First World War, is receiving further recognition this week as part of the national commemoration of the Great War.
The Tower of London Remembers project has selected the name of Portree-born John Macfarlane to be entered on the roll of honour at the ceremony today (Thursday). His name will be on the list of 180 names to be read from the poppy-filled tower moat at sunset, starting at 7.25pm. At the end of the reading an army bugler will play the Last Post.
John Macfarlane, the son of Thomas Macfarlane, the Portree mason responsible for building the Portree war memorial, was nominated for the honour by Aberdeenshire-based storyteller Helen Macdonald.
Helen, who lives near Mintlaw, has spoken about the young Cameron Highlander — who was just 20 at the time of his death — in her public appearances throughout Scotland and in the USA and plans to do so again next year up to the centenary of his death on 17th May.
Her interest in his story began over 20 years ago when she visited the Skye Museum of Island Life in Kilmuir and read the letters which he had sent home from the front to his family.
Private Macfarlane featured in the BBC2 TV programme ‘The Machine Gun and Skye’s Band of Brothers’ presented by Neil Oliver earlier this year and is featured in the newly-published ‘Great Book of Skye’, where a recently-discovered photograph and the King’s Scroll presented to his parents after the war can also be seen.
The ceremony will be filmed and the video posted online, with the lists of names being recorded, at rollofhonour.tumblr.com.