Thousands of war memorials were set up around the British Isles after the first World War, many taking years of planning and fundraising and building. But we have in our archives an account of what happened at Arighlas, a mile outside Fionnphort.
On Good Friday 1920, the War Memorial was unveiled and dedicated. It had this inscription:
Erected in Honour and Memory of the men of The District of Creich
who gave their lives for their Country in the Great War 1914 -1919
This is how the Oban Times reported the ceremony:
Last Friday, at noon, a large and representative gathering met at Arighlas to witness the ceremony of unveiling the memorial erected in honour of the soldiers and sailors belonging to the district who died on service in the War.
The proceedings opened with the singing of the 100th Psalm. Mr. Yuille, schoolmaster, in addressing the gathering, said in course of his address: ‘In my long scholastic career, extending now for 46 years, I can recall no honour to me such as you have conferred upon me on this occasion in asking me to preside at the opening of this memorial. The schoolmaster of the olden time, I am afraid, was looked upon as a hard taskmaster, but I rejoice to say that now, living and working under a more enlightened regime, we as teachers are enabled to fill, or at least to try to fill, the place of friend and guide to those placed under our charge. The effect of this is, I can assure you in all sincerity, that the loss of each brave and honoured soldier and sailor whose deeds are here commemorated is to me a deeply felt loss.
Permit me to say that in the work of collecting money, of putting the work in hand, of quarrying and building the cairn, and of erecting on it this handsome obelisk, no time has been wasted. While many parishes are still considering what form of memorial should be set up, yours is completed. It struck me very forcibly when I saw our good friends building the base of this very handsome monument, that perhaps not in all broad Scotland was there another instance in which every man engaged in the work was a man who had felt that anguish which only the bereaved can feel in all its bitterness. You will all readily agree with me when I say that every stone has been well and truly laid. The work has been a labour of love in the purest sense, and that I think is a guarantee that the memorial now to be unveiled shall endure. I feel confident that after many generations they who pass by will be privileged to read the names of those whom we to-day desire to honour, those who in their devotion to their duty have died a patriot’s death.’
As Mrs. Yuille undraped the Union Jack, the 121st Psalm was sung after which Mr Kennedy, United Free Church, Iona, led in prayer.
Professor Keay, who, with a number of theological students, attended, gave a heartening address, in which he expressed his high appreciation of the patriotism of this part of the country, which – though sparsely peopled – had so many names recorded on the Memorial. He said that he had lived with the men of the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders on service, and asked his hearers to believe that he had never seen one at his passing who was not supremely satisfied that he had finished what he had set out to do.
The Memorial stands beside Creich School, and is in the form of an obelisk of polished Aberdeen granite, resting on a cairn of Ross of Mull granite. It is 15 feet in height, and is a conspicuous feature in the landscape. On the side of the plinth are engraved the fourteen names, while on the face of it is the inscription given above.
We are grateful to Justine Robertson and family, descendants of John Yuille, who loaned us a box of his papers, also to Christine Leach of Pennyghael in the Past, who transcribed many of them. The ‘dominie’ who spoke at that ceremony at Easter 1920 lived until 1953, latterly making his home at Wellfield, within sight of Creich School and the War Memorial. The papers, with diaries and many fascinating letters, include a notice of his death and appreciation of his life:
YUILLE - At Isle of Mull on 24th January, 1953, John Yuille, retired teacher, beloved husband of the late Sarah King, Holdsworth.
Mr John Yuille, Creich and Iona - An Appreciation
There passed from our midst, in his 93rd year, a notable personality in Mr John Yuille, late schoolmaster of Creich Public School.
He came to Mull 47 years ago and for the greater part of 20 years he faithfully played his part in making plain to his pupils the intricacies of the three Rs. When he retired in 1924 he went to live in Alyth, but after the death of his wife, fourteen years ago, he returned to the West and spent the rest of his retirement with his devoted daughter, who is teacher in Iona Public School.
Much could be written of his cheerful nature, his ready wit and keen sense of humour, his kindly forbearance, his love of music, ability in song, his gift of art and his appreciation of all that was beautiful, but what remains is the influence he had on the lives of his far scattered scholars, many of whom have paid tribute to his patience, his teaching ability and the part he played in character building.
In accordance with his wish he was laid to rest in Mull. The funeral to Kilpatrick cemetery was attended by a large number of friends, many of them former pupils.
In his resting place, amid the peace of the Mull hills, we bid farewell to another country dominie.
The Ross of Mull is an extraordinary microcosm of all that draws visitors to the Hebridean Islands. The scenery, as you travel along the single-track road from the ferry at Craignure is breath-taking. You experience in the many walks in the area a true sense of wilderness; the secret bays with their beaches of silvery sand, the abundance of wildlife and the innumerable marks on the landscape of the lives of past generations and communities long gone. The Ross of Mull is a compelling place for anyone fascinated by history and the ancient way of life of the Gaelic people.
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