WW1 Armistice in Fearnan 1918 and 2018

News of the Armistice Reaches Fearnan, November 1918

Thanks to the Fearnan School Log Book, we have a first hand account of the reaction to the news of the Armistice in 1918 in the village.

On 15th November 1918, the Head Teacher, Miss L M Roberts wrote:

The glad tidings that the Armistice was signed and that peace once more reigned reached us on Monday about three o’clock in the afternoon. Captain Thistle and Mr Peter Dewar called and made known the welcome news. The children cheered and all at once hastened to hoist the “Union Jack”. The children then sang the National Anthem and were dismissed. The village received the news quietly, the bereavements being too recent to admit of any demonstration of joy. The lumber camp of Newfoundland soldiers ceased work until Wednesday but there was no disturbance in this village.”

(The wonderfully named Captain Thistle is most likely Captain David Thistle of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps mentioned above. Thanks, Mike Haig, for tracing him.)

Armistice Sunday in Fearnan 100 Years On

 The full impact of our Poppy Project became clear this weekend, as the Fearnan War Memorial was “dressed” for its big day. This small village has managed to produce 935 knitted poppies in the last few months, with a little help from Fearnan-connected people in Canada, the USA, France, and various parts of the UK.

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The war memorial looks fantastic and has been attracting admiring glances from passing motorists.  Many thanks to Tom Taylor, who was passing as we were setting up, and took the above photo.

The project itself has been a wonderful community project. It has linked present-day residents with former residents, re-united long-lost friends and stirred a forgotten (but not altogether happy) memory of learning to knit in Fearnan School during the war years.

It also inspired a reader of the Perthshire Advertiser to send a contribution of 2 poppies in an envelope simply addressed to Cath McGregor, Poppy Project, Fearnan. The package was delivered safely to Cath’s house by the Royal Mail and the poppies were included in the display.

 

We had a very well attended service at the memorial on Sunday, led by Shirley Shearer. Alistair Grier and Lisle Pattison laid wreaths on behalf of the community and the parish. This year we had a third wreath, provided by the Russian Consulate in Edinburgh, laid by Fiona Ballantyne, in memory of the Russian Airmen who died in an air crash just outside the village in WW2 ( see The Fearnan Air Crash 1943).

 

After the service, the Village Association served tea and coffee in the Hall, which gave us all a chance to socialise and talk to some of the guests who had come from further afield to be at our service. The Hall had also been decked out with poppies, and an exhibition of WW1 memorabilia, curated by Alistair and  Linda, attracted much interest in this special anniversary year.

A collection for Help for Heroes raised  an impressive £145.22.  Many thanks to all who donated so generously.

 

Thank you to everyone who made a contribution to the Poppy Project, and a particularly big thank you to Cath McGregor for being the inspiration and designer behind this special project.  A very small number of our knitters, with Cath in the middle looking bashful, are pictured at the set up of poppies on the memorial on Saturday.

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Remembering WW1

There will be a Service of Remembrance at the Fearnan War Memorial on Sunday 11th November. Please note that the service will start at 10.50, not 11.00 as previously stated on the Blog.

The Memorial will be decorated with the hundreds of poppies knitted by people in the village as well as by Fearnan-connected people around the world. Some of those knitters can be seen here putting the final touches to the design scheme.

 

 

 

After the service on Sunday, the Village Association will be serving tea and coffee in the village hall and all are welcome to join us.

 

Fearnan War Memorial

Over 16 million people died in WW1 – the sheer scale of which is difficult to comprehend. Fearnan itself suffered a heavy toll in the war. When the village’s memorial was unveiled in August 1920, the Perthshire Advertiser reported that Mr Campbell of Borland made reference to the great number of village boys who enlisted, and how a third of them had made the supreme sacrifice. Fearnan lost 8 men, more than any of the other villages in the Kenmore parish, including Kenmore itself.

For two families, the Frasers and the Mathesons, the cost was exceptionally high, as both lost not one but 2 sons in the conflict.

Fearnan War Memorial 1920s

Over the last 4 years, we have been able to uncover information about all but one of the men named on the Memorial, thanks to the excellent research done by Ian McGregor, Mike Haig and others.

To honour those who died, we have drawn together as much as we know about these 8 men so that at the service on Sunday, they will be remembered not simply as names written on a memorial stone, but as men who lived and worked here some 100 years ago.

Duncan & Peter Matheson

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Our research was greatly helped by a letter and photographs sent from Marilyn Ward, who is the granddaughter of Duncan Matheson, pictured here in his HLI uniform. Marilyn had read about our research on the FVA website and shared family documents and photographs.

We now know that Duncan was the son of William Matheson and his first wife, Christina.  Duncan was a tram driver and enlisted in the army, together with many of his fellow workers, in the 15th Highland Light Infantry (Glasgow Tramways Battalion).

He is pictured below with colleagues at training camp in Ayrshire. The shortage of army uniforms explains the fact that they are still wearing their Glasgow Corporation Transport uniforms. Duncan is third from left in the back row:

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Glasgow Tram Drivers Battalion

In November 1916, a letter from Duncan to his brother William was published in a local newspaper.  The letter is remarkably upbeat, given the circumstances and Duncan’s recent experiences.  Presumably this was to reassure the folks at home. It describes both the lead-up to a battle – waiting in the trenches “up to the arm pits in mud” – and then the attack, signalled by an exploding mine.

Duncan was wounded in the fierce battle that followed: “A piece of shell entered my left thigh, and passed clean through it without touching the bone. A regular beauty!”

Due to heavy shelling, it was several hours before he could crawl back to his own front line trench and from there make his way, along with other wounded men, back to the collecting station some two miles away, where his wounds were attended to and “the inner man fortified”.

As we now know, Corporal Duncan Matheson died the following year on the 14th July 1917, of wounds received in further action.

As he was in the Tram Drivers Battalion, Duncan is also named on the war memorial in the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.

Peter Matheson, 2nd Batallion Black Watch

Very sadly for the family, his brother Peter Matheson, 2nd battalion The Black Watch, was killed in action at the Battle of Hanna, Mesopotamia (now Iraq) on 21/1/1916.

In addition to being commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial, Peter is remembered on the memorials in Basra, and in Aberfeldy where he lived with his wife and daughters.

He is pictured on the left.

 

 

Duncan and Malcolm Fraser

Duncan and Malcolm Fraser were the sons of James and Jessie Fraser of Rosebank, and tragically both died in the last few days of the war.

 

 

Left: Duncan Fraser (Scots Guards) and right: Malcolm Fraser (Scots Greys)

Private 13011 Duncan Fraser, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards enlisted in January 1915.
He died of gas poisoning (age 39) on Sunday 13/10/1918, at Number 46 Casualty Clearing Station.

The following entry appears in the Fearnan School Log Book on the 25th October 1918:

“Sad news reached the village this week – the death through gas poisoning of another of our brave soldiers at the front. Duncan Fraser, an old pupil of this school, was among the first to join up and has been in the thick of it for a considerable time.”

13011 Duncan Fraser was in same battalion as 13009 James Dewar (see below). Their numbers are almost consecutive, and it is highly likely that they enlisted together.

Private D/13435 Malcolm Fraser, 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys). Malcolm died on 30th October 1918, shortly before the Armistice, from pneumonia (possibly influenza). His death was also recorded in the Fearnan School Log Book:

“Again, sad tidings! The brother of the brave soldier referred to a fortnight ago has succumbed at the Western Front to pneumonia whilst another who has been in the transport service for some time has been killed. Both of these lads had seen four years service in the army and both deserve the high encomiums passed upon them by the villagers. Both were much beloved and are much mourned.

 

Hugh Cowan

Private S/15683 Hugh Cowan of the Black Watch was the son of Donald and Ann Cowan of Balnearn, Fearnan.

Hugh Cowan photo

Private Hugh Cowan

Hugh Cowan was called up on Wednesday 7th June 1916, at Comrie, where he had been working as a ploughman, and was posted to the 11th Battalion The Black Watch. From this date up to the end of November, he was training at Dunfermline, before embarking at Folkestone, on Friday 1st December 1916 and landing at Boulogne on the same day.

After further training at Étaples, he was soon transferred as Private 33495 to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, joining them in the field on the evening of Wednesday 13th of December 1916, when the Battalion relieved the 7th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in the trenches at Serre, on the Somme. The relief was completed by 9.00 p.m., with Hugh Cowan being one of 140 men who had joined that day as reinforcements. Luckily, although enemy artillery was heavy, (as was the rain), they had no casualties and they were in turn relieved by a battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment on the 16th December.

Hugh probably was in action on the 9th and 10th of April 1917 in the Arras Offensive during the First Battle of the Scarpe, but it was on Thursday the 3rd of May, 1917, that he was killed in action on the first day of the Third Battle of the Scarpe, aged 19.

His battalion was part of the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Division, VI Corps, of the Third Army. The Official History states: ” The enemy obviously had foreknowledge of the attack; for, prior to its launch he deluged the front with chemical and high-explosive shell. At Zero, in fact, the field batteries were enveloped in thick clouds of gas. The detachments, wearing respirators, stuck manfully to their task. The infantry, however, was much disorganized. Most of the battalions also wore respirators during the assembly, and numbers of men who did not put them on, were overcome by vomiting. The 8th Brigade (Hugh Cowan’s brigade) fell into confusion, largely owing to the fire of parties of the enemy who had been pushed forward into shell-holes and had thus avoided the British barrage. The waves of the 2nd Royal Scots and 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers becoming prematurely merged, the barrage was lost, and the attack broke down.”

He was buried in Vis en Artois British Cemetery (Ref VII.D.2).

On May 25th 1917 the Head Teacher, Miss L M Roberts, referred to Hugh’s death in the School Log Book, and its impact on her pupils:

“The scholars were much grieved today to learn of the death of Hugh Cowan who fell ill in action on 3rd May. He was well known having been brought up in the village and until he joined up had been a shepherd with his father at Balnearn.”

Hugh Cowan Memorial Plaque

 

This picture of Hugh Cowan’s Memorial Plaque (also known as the ‘Death Penny’) comes from Hazel Bellman, a descendant of Hugh Cowan.

The Plaques were cast in bronze and issued to the next of kin, in this case, Donald Cowan, of Balnearn, Fearnan.

 

 

John Fraser

John was the son of Donald and Kate Fraser of Upper Fearnan. Wounded by shell-fire on the 7th of September, 1918, succumbing to those wounds the next day, the 8th, aged 25.

 

 

John Lauchlan Fraser, Driver 96764, Headquarters 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, Royal Field Artillery.

 

James Dewar

Private James Dewar

James Dewar, Scots Guards

Guardsman 13009 James Dewar, 2nd Battalion The Scots Guards was the youngest son of Mr and Mrs Peter Dewar, Tomdarroch, Fearnan.

Formerly a member of Govan Police Force, he enlisted on 7/1/1915 and went to France on 6/10/1915. He was wounded in April 1916 and killed in action on 28/3/1918, three days before his 30th birthday.

 His father, Peter, was a Gamekeeper but appears to have died during the war years. His mother subsequently moved to Drummond Cottage, Keltneyburn.

 

 

Duncan McPhail

Thanks to research by Mike Haig and Mark Duffy (both members of the Great War Forum), we now know that Duncan McPhail signed up with the Scots Guards early in 1915. He is listed in the Parish of Kenmore Roll of Honour (“List of men, natives of the Parish and others residing therein, who have gone forth to serve their King and Country in the War”).

Duncan was 32 years of age and is described as a farm servant. The medical inspection that he underwent after signing up shows that he was in poor health and he was subsequently discharged on account of his health. His Death Certificate shows that he died, not long afterwards, of meningitis.

 

 

If anybody can add to the information that we have on these men who are commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial, we would be delighted to hear from you.  You can use the Comments section of the Blog to get in touch.

 

 

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Halloween Special

October Coffee Morning

At first glance, it looked like some of Harry Potter’s witch-y chums had turned up at the Fearnan Coffee Morning, but at least they had brought a fairly decent spread of baking and goodies with them.  Happily, they had used conventional recipes and not the ones that start “eye of newt and toe of frog….” so there was much on the table to be enjoyed.

That was the last Coffee Morning of the year.  Our next events are the Remembrance Day Service and Mulled Wine and Mince Pies (see below for details)

 

A Double Page Spread!

 There was a nice bit of recognition for our poppy knitters last week, when the Perthshire Advertiser picked up the story from the Fearnan Blog and the result was a double page spread in the centre of the paper.

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A big Thank You to Melanie Bonn of the Perthshire Advertiser for helping to raise the profile of the project.

Efforts continue to create the decorative panels for the war memorial on 11th November. Please let Cath have any finished poppies as soon as possible – she can be seen knitting yet another one in the coffee morning pic above!

 

Co-op Local Community Fund

Fearnan’s McLean Hall has been chosen for the next round of the Co-op Local Community Fund!

UnknownEvery time members shop at the Co-op, 1% of what they spend on selected own-branded products and services goes to help fund community projects in their own area. If you have a Co-op card, you can now choose McLean Hall as your chosen cause and help to fund the on-going development and maintenance of this valuable local asset.

All you need to do is register here and select McLean Hall as the beneficiary of your spending: https://membership.coop.co.uk/register

Why not do it now?

 

Book Club

This month’s Book Club report is a joint effort from Lesley and Linda:

The October book club meeting was held on World Mental Health Day which was an appropriate occasion to discuss Anna’s issues as portrayed in our October read, The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn.

UnknownUnlike the protagonists in other psychological thrillers we’ve read, we did like Anna and were on her side. There were lots of twists and red herrings in the plot to keep us interested. Most had not guessed about Ethan. Anna was described as an “unreliable heroine” and we didn’t know when to believe her and how much was delusion, which kept us on our toes! Incidentally, we also didn’t believe someone could drink that much, and pop pills, and stay on their feet!

We enjoyed the way the story was played out in just three weeks and the use of the present tense kept us involved with Anna as the plot unfolded. There was consensus over the sex scene with David the lodger – it was unnecessary and out of place.

At the start, we used an American quiz designed to stimulate conversation on the book.  However, this conversation-starter became conversation-stopper owing to the crass nature of the questions – but at least it raised a laugh!

The next meeting is on 14th November, when the book being discussed is Slow Horses by Mick Herron. It is the first book in the CWA Gold Dagger Award-Winning British espionage series starring a team of MI5 agents united by one common bond: they’ve screwed up royally and will do anything to redeem themselves!

 

Coming Soon

At 11.00 on the 11th November, it will be exactly 100 years since the end of WW1. There will be a short Service of Remembrance at Fearnan War Memorial at 11am, and afterwards the Village Association will be serving teas and coffee in the village hall. A collection will be taken for Help or Heroes. If you would like a lift down to the War Memorial, please come to the Hall car park at 10.45.

On Saturday 10th November at 19.30, there will be a Charity Ceilidh in aid of the Scottish Charity Air Ambulance. It will be held in Aberfeldy Town Hall. It is an excellent cause to support, and 2 members of the Fearnan community will be appearing, along with the rest of the Glen Lyon Ukulele Band, for your entertainment! (Calling you out, Cath and Neil!)

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Christmas is creeping up on us, and that means that our Mulled Wine and Mince Pies event is just around the corner. Join us for a pre-Christmas glass or two, some mince pies and good company. It’s on Saturday 8th December 15.00 – 17.00, £6 per person. After expenses, a donation will be made from the takings to the McLean Hall fund.

 

 

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October Update

Poppy Brigade

Work has started on transforming the +800 knitted poppies into the panels that will decorate the war memorial on 11th November in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.

A small group of ‘stitchers’ met on Saturday afternoon in the village hall to start sewing the poppies onto panels so that Cath McGregor’s very striking (and carefully measured!) design can be realised.

If you would like to lend a hand, there will be another stitching session on Saturday 20th October in the hall at 2pm. And if you have any finished poppies lurking in your knitting basket, please could you either let Cath have them asap, or leave them in the box in the hall.

On 11th November, after the service at the war memorial, the FVA will be serving tea and coffee in the village hall.  There will  be a display of WW1 Memorabilia, and if you have any appropriate family WW1 momentos that you would like to add to the display, please either bring them on the day, or contact Alistair Grier in advance.  Items do not need to have a connection to Fearnan – it’s the stories behind them that count.

Macmillan Update

Many thanks to all those who contributed, in cash, in kind, or by eating lots of cake, to the Macmillan Coffee Morning organised by the Hall Committee.  The final sum raised was £250.

 

What’s On

smiling jack o lantern

The next FVA Coffee Morning is on Tuesday 30th October at 10.30 in the village hall – that’s the day before Halloween, so things might just get a bit spooky and anything could happen!

 

93af4d_07758d1b7fb5497599f57d4c8c4fb173~mv2_d_4795_3836_s_4_2We have news of 2 events at the Big Shed.  The first is a concert by Plaid Song – The Life, Songs & Times of Lady Nairne (1766-1845), on Sunday 25th November at 19.30.

Perth-based duo Plaid Song (Syd House and Nicola Cowmeadow) will perform the songs of Caroline Oliphant, better known as Lady Nairne, and tell the story of her remarkable life.

Lady Nairne was a Jacobite and a contemporary of Robert Burns. She wrote many of Scotland’s best known songs including Charlie is My Darling, The Rowan Tree, Will Ye No’ Come Back Again, Caller Herrin’ and The Hundred Pipers.   

Tickets are £10 on the door and £5 for children.  BYOB, tea and coffee available.

The second Big Shed notice is a reminder that there is a yoga class with Emma Burtles at the Big Shed every Friday from 10.30 till 12.00.  The class costs £6 and there’s no need to book.

You don’t need any yoga experience and you don’t need to bring any equipment. The class is fairly gentle and it’s not competitive – you just do what’s right for you. It’s great for developing flexibility in the joints and good balance, as well as stronger muscles.

 

And finally, before you arrange that beehive hairdo or dig out your flares, cheesecloth shirt and cuban heels, the 50s and 60s Night, due to be held in the village hall on Saturday 27th October, has been cancelled to allow work on the hall kitchen to be completed.

 

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Excavations, Commemorations, Donations – and some Old Film Footage

Crannog Archaeologists at Boreland

Back in July, The Blog reported on the Living on Water archaeologists’ visit to investigate Fearnan Crannog, and their associated diving work.

This week past, the same team has been carrying out some excavation work at Boreland Farm, so The Blog (accompanied by Pat Menzies) went to find out what they were finding out – or hoping to find out.

We met Dr Michael Stratigos and Dr Derek Hamilton, who explained that the Living on Water project is an archaeological research project being carried out by a team at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, along with a number of project partners including the Scottish Crannog Centre. The project is funded by Historic Environment Scotland.

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They are focussing on the early Iron Age (800 – 400BC) and are trying to understand whether or not the crannogs around Loch Tay were occupied simultaneously (which would suggest quite a busy landscape) or sporadically over that 400-year period (which would suggest small groups living in isolation).  To help answer these questions, they are using  radio carbon dating, informed by dendrochronology (information from tree rings), which enables them to date the timbers from the crannogs to within 25 years.

Apart from having neighbours on the water, crannog dwellers may have had neighbours on the land and the test excavations at Boreland are part of the research to understand the terrestrial population of the area at the time the crannogs were occupied.

Although there are many remnants from inhabitants of the area from earlier periods, once you start to look at the early Iron Age period, there are only the crannogs – no artefacts, no cup marked stones or other rock art and no settlements that can be identified.

IMG_7309It is likely that if there were people living in the landscape at this time, they would have built their houses exactly where the village is now – making archaeological excavations difficult.  However, more industrial work would have been done outside the old village, making Boreland a good choice for investigatory work.

So far, nothing significant has been found but the team have other on-land sites to investigate around the Loch in this stage of their project.  We will keep in touch with their investigations – at the moment they are about half way through their 3-year project.

 

Broadband News

IMG_7295Whilst up at Boreland, we paused to check out the new dish on the roof of the barn.  This is good news for Bogons Internet customers as it is part of an upgrade that will reduce vulnerability to the weather. Once operational, it will boost the broadband signal and help pave the way for improved speeds.

The antennas will be configured and aligned very shortly and then it will be fully live.

 

Fearnan Film Footage

Another little glimpse into the past came recently, via Aberfeldy Museum.  Film recordings of Fearnan in the 1930s are rare things, but this little gem from the National Library of Scotland has a section on Fearnan at the beginning and shows John Stewart, the owner of the Tigh-an-Loan Hotel, with some fishermen and an impressive catch outside the hotel.  The two girls in tartan Tammie’s at the end of the Fearnan section are Mia and Dolly, John Stewart’s daughters who, we are told, were very fond of tartan all their lives!

http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/9416

Alastair Barnett recalls that “it was common for us to watch for the boats approaching the hotel pier during the fishing season and dash along to see what the guests had caught that day and then help haul the boat on to the shore.”  He also thinks that in the “Peter” segment they could be referring to Peter Malloch, who was a ghillie.

 

September Coffee Morning

Moving back to the present, this has been a bumper week for coffee mornings!  First up was the FVA regular coffee morning which attracted a nice mix of visitors, locals and Charlie (a trainee sheepdog).  Although it was a relatively small group, the event went on long past the usual finishing time – always a good sign.

Cath Macgregor brought along some of the +650 poppies that have been knitted so far (thank you everyone!), and there was a chance to see the plans for decorating the war memorial on 11th November. We are being quite ambitious, but we know that many communities have plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, and we really want Fearnan to stand out. We do need some more poppies, please – just a few red or black ones.

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The display for the monument will be put together in the village hall on the afternoons of 13th and 20th October, starting at 2pm.  Please come along to help if you can spare an hour or two.

 

The second coffee morning was the village’s annual contribution to the national Macmillan Cancer Coffee Morning initiative. Fearnan’s bakers had been busy for this good cause and the result was a splendid spread, including some slightly more unusual cakes such as Guinness Cake and Pina Colada Cake.

Many thanks to all who baked and came along.  Thanks to their generosity, a good donation will be made to the charity.

Fearnan Art Club

The Art Club programme for the autumn is as follows:

Monday 8th October: Sketching Autumn at the Birks of Aberfeldy, meet in the car park at 2pm.

Monday 12th November: 2 -4pm meet at Heather Lewis’s house (directions from Cath Macgregor if you wish to go).

Monday 10th December: Christmas Lunch, details to follow.

 

Fearnan Book Club

 Linda writes:

Due to the renovations in the village hall, September’s book club meeting was kindly hosted by Fran and Elaine and had a different format. The book this month was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.   It is set in the aftermath of WW2 and focusses on the experiences of the residents of Guernsey during the occupation.

Prior to our discussion, we watched the recently made film of the book, sustained by wine, tea and a variety of chocolate, tablet and biscuits. Suitably fuelled, we then had a lively discussion comparing and contrasting the book and film. As always, the opinions were disparate, which enhances the experience!

The format of the book, which some found took time to adapt to, is a series of letters with stories of life in Guernsey. The complexities of the book resulted in lots of threads which were pulled together, and revelations uncovered, as the story progressed.

The general feeling was that the book developed the characters more than the film. There was an enthusiastic discussion about the main characters. Juliet, the author who bonded with the members of the society, was not portrayed as strongly in the film as in the book where she came across as an independent, feisty woman. Her boyfriend/ fiancé, Mark, did not live up to his attractive description in the book and was less pushy in the film while, Elizabeth’s character was more developed, and her courage highlighted, in the book.

Although very enjoyable, we felt the film lacked depth and that there were the bones for a much deeper film. One comment was that the film was “not gutsy enough” although the scenery and costumes were very realistic and authentic.

As always, we could see the ending coming with the slowly emerging love story resulting in the eventual happy outcome for Juliet, Dawsey and Elizabeth’s daughter, Kit.

This enjoyable format of book/film comparison is one that we will no doubt revisit in the future.

Our next meeting is on the 10th October when we will be reading The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. It has been described as the hottest new release thriller of 2018.

“Twisted to the power of max” was Val McDermid’s description. What did she see?

 

Coming Soon ……….

The Bowling Club are starting up again for the season on Monday 1st October, 8 – 10pm in the hall.  New members who would like to join, or to come along and try it out, are more than welcome.

The next coffee morning will be on Tuesday 30th October at 10.30 in the hall. It’s the day before Halloween, so things might get a bit spooky ………….

Remembrance Sunday is Nov 11th at 11.00 at the Memorial and after in the village hall for tea and coffee.

On Saturday 8th Dec, the FVA is serving Mulled Wine & Mince Pies from 15.00 – 17.00. Come and enjoy some seasonal goodies and good company.

 

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September Already

Now that summer is more or less over, Fearnan’s Poppy Project will be entering the final straight leading up to the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. We are hoping that our faithful band of knitters will be able to top the current (fantastic) total of over 500 knitted poppies, which will be used to decorate the war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

Recently, Aberfeldy Museum published a short piece on Private S/15683 Hugh Cowan of the Black Watch, and son of Donald and Ann Cowan of Balnearn, Fearnan. Hugh, of course, is one of the men commemorated on the Fearnan War Memorial and his story serves as an inspiration for all who have contributed so far to the Poppy Project.

Many thanks to Aberfeldy Museum for their permission to reproduce the following article:

Hugh Cowan photo

Hugh Cowan

“Hugh Cowan was called up on Wednesday 7th June 1916, at Comrie, where he had been working as a ploughman, and was posted to the 11th Battalion The Black Watch. From this date up to the end of November, he was training at Dunfermline, before embarking at Folkestone, on Friday 1st December 1916 and landing at Boulogne on the same day.

After further training at Étaples, he was soon transferred as Private 33495 to the 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, joining them in the field on the evening of Wednesday 13th of December 1916, when the Battalion relieved the 7th Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in the trenches at Serre, on the Somme. The relief was completed by 9.00 p.m., with Hugh Cowan being one of 140 men who had joined that day as reinforcements. Luckily, although enemy artillery was heavy, (as was the rain), they had no casualties and they were in turn relieved by a battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment on the 16th December.

Hugh probably was in action on the 9th and 10th of April 1917 in the Arras Offensive during the First Battle of the Scarpe, but it was on Thursday the 3rd of May, 1917, that he was killed in action on the first day of the Third Battle of the Scarpe, aged 19.

His battalion was part of the 8th Infantry Brigade of the 3rd Division, VI Corps, of the Third Army. The Official History states: The enemy obviously had foreknowledge of the attack; for, prior to its launch he deluged the front with chemical and high-explosive shell. At Zero, in fact, the field batteries were enveloped in thick clouds of gas. The detachments, wearing respirators, stuck manfully to their task. The infantry, however, was much disorganized. Most of the battalions also wore respirators during the assembly, and numbers of men who did not put them on, were overcome by vomiting. The 8th Brigade (Hugh Cowan’s brigade) fell into confusion, largely owing to the fire of parties of the enemy who had been pushed forward into shell-holes and had thus avoided the British barrage. The waves of the 2nd Royal Scots and 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers becoming prematurely merged, the barrage was lost, and the attack broke down.

His body was found at map reference 57b.O.8.b.9.9., about half a mile southeast of Monchy le Preux. He was buried in Vis en Artois British Cemetery, Ref VII.D.2.”

 

Would you be able to make a contribution to our Poppy Project, to help commemorate men like Hugh Cowan? The pattern for the knitted poppies can be found here and finished poppies can be dropped off at Fearnan Hall. Contact the Blog if you need an address to post them.

 

Fearnan Art Club

The Art Club, putting down their own sketch pads and paints for a change, enjoyed an outing to the Big Shed where photographer Stuart Green and artist Debbie Cassells were resident for the month of August.

Debbie gave the group a demonstration of mixed media – she paints with acrylic and then adds collage to the picture. This produces unusually textured and layered artwork, which often incorporates local materials – such as Harris Tweed, or cuttings from printed media. She aims to draw the viewer into the painting and so encourage further investigation of the piece.

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Fearnan Art Club (Photo by Stuart Green)

 

Fearnan Book Club 

Linda writes:

Book ClubThe Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet proved to be a successful Book Club choice in terms of the level of discussion it stimulated at the August meeting.  As is often the case, our reviews were mixed and the level of enjoyment of the book varied within the group.

This novel is purported to be a translation of a decades old manuscript of a novel by Raymond Brunet sent to a publisher. We debated whether this was the case, or was this also fiction?

Set in the small town of St Louis in Alsace, we detected strong hints of “Maigret”. The detective, George’s Groski, who first appeared in an earlier novel, The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau, seemed to fit the stereotypical portrayal of the flawed detective with marital problems and who perhaps drank too much. Comparisons were made with Rebus and other well known fictional detectives.  We acknowledged that this character was very thorough and methodical and, despite his alcohol consumption throughout the working day, he managed to complete the necessary groundwork and follow all leads.

The general feeling was that it was hard to relate to the characters or, indeed, feel sympathy for many of them, including Raymond the bereaved teenage son, who was liberated after his father’s death in the accident referred to in the title. We followed his bold escapades as he perhaps went off the rails, and was stunned by discoveries related to his father’s other life.

However, we did acknowledge the author’s evocation of the real feeling of St Louis and the excellent portrayals of the characters and their interactions with each other. There were detailed descriptions of the atmosphere and interiors of the bars visited and we could clearly picture the clientele who frequented them.

In conclusion, mixed opinions of a book that meandered and then concluded very quickly. As a group we will look out for any future novels by this highly regarded, Booker prize nominated author.

shoppingThe book for September is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an international bestseller, and also a popular, major film. This historical novel, set in 1946, reveals the suffering experienced by the people of Guernsey in WW2 whilst highlighting their character and resilience. It is based on an exchange of letters and despite the background and context, it has been described as “touching, quirky and funny”.

The September meeting on Wednesday 12th has a different format. Fran and Elaine are kindly hosting a viewing of the film at their house, followed by a discussion and a chance to compare the book and the film. Due to the length of the film, we will start at 7.00 pm to allow time for discussion.

Fortingall Quiz Night

Sharpen your wits, Quizzers! There’s another chance compete for the title of Quiz Night Champion, this time in Fortingall on Friday 14th September at 7.30 pm. Check out the poster for the details here Quiz Night Poster

Coming Soon

The next Fearnan Village Association Coffee Morning will be on Tuesday 25th September at 10.30 in the village hall, when we anticipate being able to use the new kitchen for the first time! Come and enjoy some excellent home baking, savouries, freshly made coffee – and the chance to catch up with friends and neighbours after the summer break.

 

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Strawberries, Ospreys …. and Hawks!

There was, we were told last Saturday, a delicious aroma of strawberries wafting out of the hall and into the village.  This news shouldn’t have come as a surprise, given that our annual Strawberry TeaZ was underway with this wonderful spread on offer:

There were strawberries every-which-way, from strawberry sandwiches, to strawberry tarts, cakes, cream buns, jellies, cheesecakes, pavlovas, tiramisus, pastries, and more.

This feast of strawberry-ness attracted a wonderful – and extremely sociable – crowd of visitors, regulars and their friends, along with people who were either going to, or coming from, the Fortingall Art Exhibition.

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It was a great afternoon and all these hungry people meant that, by the end, there was literally nothing left.  Many thanks to all our bakers and to those who helped to organise and run the event.

 

Ospreys

Facebook users will have seen Keith Brockie’s recent pictures of young ospreys, and here he tells us a bit more about his work ringing and monitoring the young birds.

Keith writes:

 I have been monitoring the Perthshire osprey population since 1982, when there were only 4 breeding pairs. Now, Perthshire has between 40 and 50 pairs.

Osprey chicks are ringed with a numbered metal ring from the British Trust for Ornithology, who run the ringing scheme. A special license is needed to disturb ospreys as they are a specially protected Schedule One species.

 I also put an individually numbered/lettered coloured plastic ring on the left leg, which enables the birds to be followed on their travels to their wintering grounds in Senegal, or Gambia on the west coast of Africa. Some birds are now wintering in Spain and Portugal. Through sightings, we can follow their return to Scotland when they are two years old. Males tend to return to their natal area, but females disperse more widely.

 It is also possible to monitor the longevity of individual birds. For example, EJ is the current female at RSPB Loch Garten. I ringed her as a chick near Bridge of Cally, Perthshire, on the 14th July 1997. She is now 21 years old and still attempting to breed.

 There is still much to learn about our expanding osprey population.

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Pictures copyright to Keith Brockie.

Keith took these pictures of an Osprey brood on Loch Tay about a week apart towards the end of July.  Sharp-eyed readers may recognise the background!

 

Book Club

This week, the article on ospreys segues beautifully into the Book Club report, where the book of the month was ………….. H is for Hawk!

Linda writes:

The book discussed in July was H for Hawk by Helen McDonald. We had some apologies from those unable to attend but they kindly provided email comments for the discussion.

 Opinion was divided, and this book not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’.  However, there was general agreement that it was an interesting book with excellent descriptions but, whilst it was enjoyed by some, others found it heavy going and had to persevere to complete it.

 We felt this book was quite unusual, with its combination of different genres in the one book. The backbone of the book was the memoir/autobiography of the author during the year in which her father died and she trained a goshawk. She was overcome by grief and the process of training the Hawk and building a relationship with it, helped her deal with her grief.

Her memoir was interspersed with biographical writing about, and detailed references to, TH White’s, The Goshawk (1951), which is an account of White’s attempt to train a northern goshawk using traditional, rather than modern, falconry techniques.

Within the group, previous experiences, attitudes to hunting or keeping a wild bird as a pet, influenced the enjoyment and understanding of the text. Some felt the book didn’t flow with the writing related to White breaking the flow of the narrative.

UnknownThe discussion extended to other books about animals where some could recall being devastated when the animal died (e.g. Black Beauty) leaving a lasting impact on the reader. In this instance, relief was felt when the hawk didn’t die!

All in all, mixed reviews from the group. 

The next Book Club meeting is on the 8th August and the book is Accident on the A35 by Graeme McCrae Burnet, a favourite author of the group. It has been described as an accomplished, multi-layered crime story set in France from the Booker-shortlisted Scottish author.

 

 

The next FVA event is the Coffee Morning planned for 25th September at 10.30 am  in the village hall. Work on the kitchen renovation in the hall may affect this, but we will keep you up to date with this on the blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note that, unless otherwise stated, the copyright of all text on this website is held by the writer of the article, and the copyright of all photos is in the ownership of the person that took them.

 

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