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World War One Commemoration

Isle of Man’s role in World War One

The Isle of Man played an important role in World War One, supplying troops and vessels and running special camps for the internment of enemy aliens.

Official records show that 8,261 men enlisted in the armed forces, which was 82.3% of the Isle of Man’s male population of military age.

Of these, 1,165 gave their lives and 987 were wounded.

269 officers and men from the Isle of Man gained high honours during the Great War, with practically all the main battlefronts represented.

Internment camps 

The Isle of Man was used by the British Government for the internment of enemy aliens during both World War One and World War Two. 

During 1914-1919 there were two large camps on the Island, at Douglas and Knockaloe near Peel. The first was a requisitioned holiday camp, while the second was purpose-built using prefabricated huts and even had its own railway link. 

Large numbers of internees were held for up to five years until the camps finally closed in 1919.

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company had a distinguished military record.

During the Great War, 11 out of a total of 15 Steam Packet Company vessels were requisitioned by the Admiralty, 4 of which were lost, 3 retained by the Government and 4 returned to service some 4 years later.

One particular vessel worthy of mentioning is the Ben My Chree, which was converted into a seaplane carrier. She made history when one of her aircraft became the first ship-launched plane to sink an enemy vessel.

The King Orry, which was attached to the British Grand Fleet, had the distinction of leading part of the German High Seas Fleet into the Firth of Forth to surrender.

Armistice

The announcement of the signing of the Armistice was received in the Isle of Man on 11 November 1918, at 11am precisely at the Government Office Wireless Station, transmitted direct from the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Immediately, a great demonstration of national thanksgiving was called for by the Mayor of Douglas.

It was held at the Villa Marina and attended by 3,000 people, including the Lieutenant Governor Lord Raglan.

One of the speakers at the event was Manx novelist Sir Hall Caine, by then the world’s best-selling author.

His speech that day concluded with the words:

‘Some of the best and the bravest of our young Manx manhood, the hope and the pride and the flower of it, has fallen. It makes my heart bleed to think of the Manx mothers and fathers from whose life all brightness has gone. It there are many such who are watering their pillows with their tears each night they have this one great consolation – that their loss is to the world’s gain; that they have given their sons for the greatest battle for liberty and freedom that the world has yet fought. The world will never forget.’

Manx National Heritage

Manx National Heritage and the Manx Museum will be a focal point for the Isle of Man’s World War One commemorations. 

In 2014, the Manx Museum hosted the exhibition 'This Terrible Ordeal', which displayed the impact of WW1 on all of the people of the Isle of Man. Contributions to the exhibition included those from soldiers on the battlefields, sailors at sea braving U-boats, enemy aliens interned on the Island, women nursing in hospitals and children packing parcels for troops.

The World War One Collections Guide is available to view online.

World War One at the iMuseum 

More information about World War One has been released onto the iMuseum. Just go to the relevant section on the iMuseum homepage and click on the links.

Preservation of War Memorials Committee 

In October 2008 Tynwald approved the creation of an Isle of Man Government Preservation of War Memorials Committee to be responsible for – 

  • ensuring a proper registration of war memorials throughout the Isle of Man;
  • encouraging the proper maintenance and upkeep of such memorials;
  • avoiding the destruction of, or overseeing the removal of, such memorials 

The Committee is working alongside Manx National Heritage to maintain a data base registering all memorials in the Isle of Man. 

For further information please contact committee member Mrs F Robinson email fiona.robinson2@gmail.com or telephone +44 1624 816941.

Isle of Man Post Office collections

The Isle of Man Post Office has produced its first collections to mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. These include a Medallion Tribute to Manx Veterans of WWI as well as sets of stamps and coins - a Trench Art Miniature sheet (together with the Royal British Legion) and a Trench Warfare set. The Post Office has also collaborated with the German Post Office to produce a set of stamps and a specially-minted coin to mark the centenary of the Christmas Day truce in World War One.

For further information visit http://www.iompost.com/stamps-coins/collection/theme/WWI/.

World War One Commemoration Steering Group

The Isle of Man Government will play a central role in efforts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One.

A working group has been established to help community organisations and public authorities mark significant milestones taking place between 2014 and 2018.

Chaired by Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage, the group brings together Government officers and representatives from the Royal British Legion, Municipal Association and Chamber of Commerce.

It will not directly organise activities or allocate funding and will instead provide central co-ordination for WWI commemorations being held in the Island. Part of this work will focus on helping to raise awareness of the Isle of Man's contribution to the Great War and encouraging community participation in events.

The Steering Group maintains a record of events and activities that are taking place here as well as a record of all those that have taken place since commemorations began in 2014.

For further information, please contact the secretary, Mrs C Barks, via email to Clair.Barks@gov.im or telephone +44 1624 685211.

Funding for WWI commemorative events 

The Isle of Man Arts Council would welcome applications regarding events or projects commemorating World War I, which fall under the remit of the Arts council, i.e. those containing an artistic/cultural element and/or engage the public as participants or audience members.  For more information, please visit the Arts Council website: http://www.gov.im/artscouncil/ and/or view their funding guidance notes leaflet: http://www.gov.im/media/629123/fundingguidancenotes2013.pdf.

The Manx Lottery Trust will consider applications for funding for WWI commemoration projects.  Interested parties should visit www.mlt.org.im for guidance on whether they would be eligible to apply.  Applications should be made directly to the Manx Lottery Trust; details of how to do so are also included on its website.  Applications can only be considered by the Trustees at their regular meetings, alongside applications for other community projects, so early submission is recommended.

Culture Vannin welcomes applications via the normal process from Manx community and voluntary organisations to support commemoration events and activities relating to WW1 but limited funds are available.  For further information and to make an application interested parties should visit www.culturevannin.im.  In order to be considered, applications must be received at least ten days prior to a scheduled board meeting, as detailed on the website.

UK guide to engaging local communities

The UK Government's Department for Culture, Media & Sport has produce a guide to engaging local communities. While parts of the document are not applicable in the Isle of Man, it provides some useful advice on how to stimulate interest in WWI commemorative events.

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