THE WORLD WARS
First World War
World War 1 or the Great War as it was known raged from 1914-1918 and there were thousands of young men from all over Britain who lost their lives at sea and on the battlefields of Europe. Hopeman men were no exception and those who were in the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) joined the Navy, those who were in the Territorial’s joined the Army, and the remainder and the majority, joined the County Regiment which was the 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders. Other family members were fishermen on board steam drifters and seconded to the Navy for patrol and guard duties round the UK. One Hopeman drifter, “Rose Valley” was sunk in Scapa Flow. Armistice with Germany was signed on the 11th November 1918 and those who returned were all wounded in one way or another either by being blinded, missing an eye, a leg or an arm and these were the lucky ones as forty nine men from Hopeman had died during the conflict. This related to around 40% of that age group at that time. (see list of names below). After this war the majority of communities erected a memorial stone or a plaque to remember those who died and the community of Hopeman all contributed to the building of the Memorial Hall in their memory. Lest we not forget what these men did for us.
The photograph above shows the Hopeman Seaforth Highlanders in full Highland uniform marching up Harbour Street during early August 1914 when on their way to Elgin to join other soldiers and board a train to the south of England for final training prior to proceeding over to France. In the photograph the soldier 3rd from the right is Private John McHardie who survived the war and the older gentleman on the left smoking a pipe is John McHardie.
Initial training for the Seaforth Highlanders was completed in what was called the Drill Hall located in the long building at the back of 51 Farquhar Street and next to the Memorial Hall. The property and training was done under the supervision of RSM Colin McLean who had a distinguished career in the Army and retired after the war as Sargent Major in the Seaforth Highlanders.
Shooting practice was also done on Braemou Beach (East Beach) and the dunes on the East side of this beach were built up to accommodate targets hoisted from behind the front set of dunes. During a gale early 2015 the sand dunes in that area were eroded and exposed a stone wall which may well be part of this target practice set-up.
We are fortunate in Hopeman to have a copy of the “Morayshire Roll of Honour 1914-1918 which lists all of the Moray men who were killed, missing or injured during the First World War and it makes very interesting reading.
1914 – Hydroplane at Hopeman Machine falls into the Sea – Exciting incident
This seaplane incident was reported in ‘The Northern Scot’ of 23 October 1914, and gives a valuable insight into the dangers of flight and the public’s curiosity, given that planes were then relatively uncommon in the skies of Moray.
Yesterday afternoon a British hydroplane (No. 859) fell into the Moray Firth about a quarter of a mile from Hopeman, and provided the inhabitants with one of the sensational incidents of the war. The event caused an extraordinary sensation in the usually quiet little town.
The great majority of the people of Hopeman and district had probably never seen a flying machine at close quarters, and when the hydroplane appeared from the west about one o’clock, and circled over the houses there was tremendous excitement. The whole population turned out to watch the movements of the strange visitor, and some of the inhabitants were even inclined to believe that the dreaded German invader had at last arrived, and that very soon bombs would be raining down on their defenseless homes. Fortunately they had nothing to fear on that score. The hydroplane proceeded in the direction of Clashach port, about a mile to the east of Hopeman, and then executed a circular movement, bringing it back again to the town. Its progress was watched by hundreds of people from Burghead, Hopeman, Cummingston, and the surrounding district. When about a quarter of a mile out from Hopeman harbour the machine was observed to fall heavily into the sea. It was afterwards ascertained that the engine had become overheated. Fortunately the machine was flying low at the time, and beyond one or two broken stays, little damage was done. The two occupants escaped unhurt.
Three small boats at once proceeded to the rescue. On reaching the machine it was found impossible to bring the boats up to it. One of the crew, however, swam from the boats to the hydroplane and succeeded in attaching a rope to it. A great crowd awaited its arrival a short distance to the west of the harbour, and many willing hands helped to drag the machine up the beach. During the afternoon the hydroplane was an object of interest to hundreds of curious visitors.
Second World War
For the 2nd World War (1939-1945) again many Hopeman men were drafted in to join the Armed Forces and unfortunately 19 of those were killed in action. They were recruited by the Army and Navy and as the majority were fishermen joined the Royal Navy or went to war as reservists on board the numerous steam drifters and motor boats requisitioned for coastal protection and general use. Those who joined the Royal Navy were mainly employed on board the smaller ships such as minesweepers as the navy had a policy of having at least two fishermen on board these ships due to their knowledge and they could also rely on them not to be seasick. They were involved in sweeping for mines in UK coastal waters and in particular the English Channel along with the Mediterranean and Australia. Quite a few Hopeman men were posted to the USA for a few months to join either new-build minesweepers or to crew them as they sailed to the UK. The attached photo shows HMS BYMS 2167 one of the American built ‘J’ class boats sailing into Portsmouth where Hopeman fisherman Robert Findlay McPherson was the Engineering Petty officer on board with another Lossiemouth fishermen as an engineer.
1939 – 1945 Hopeman Steam Drifters and Motor Boats engaged in War Service.
S.D. SEDULOUS INS 3 Built in Dartmouth 1912
S.D. ROSEHAUGH INS 20 Built in Sandhaven 1917
S.D. WEST NEUK INS 39 Built in Selby 1911
S.D. ROSE VALLEY INS 94 Built in Buckie 1917
S.D. MAID OF MORAY INS 150 Built in Aberdeen 1909
S.D. EMBRACE INS 402 Built in Govan 1908
S.D. FAVOUR INS 530 Built in Govan 1910
S.D. CRAIGHEAD INS 549 Built in Govan 1910
M.B. HARMONY INS 4 Built in Fraserburgh 1934
M.B. BEN MORE INS 123 Built in Sandhaven 1934
M.B. FULMAR INS 252 Built in Buckie 1935
M.B. ARDENT INS 326 Built in Anstruther 1935
1944 – Plane Crash at Hopeman With the approximate date of 1944 a Lancaster bomber crash landed in to the sea off Hopeman whilst attempting to land at Lossiemouth airfield. The incident occurred not far from the ‘Perstock’ rock which is to the north east of Hopeman harbour and off Sanny Findlay’s bay. At the time Danny Ralph (Rover), a baker in the village, along with Dode Walker the owner of the Station Hotel in Burghead were out in a small boat working lobster creels and after a very frightening experience as the plane came down with sections floating on the surface they went to the assistance of the crew who were jumping into the sea. As they were rescuing the airmen to their boat they noted that they were speaking a foreign language and thought that they must be Germans. It crossed their minds that they should throw them back into the sea and fortunately they did not as the crew were from Holland and they were speaking Dutch. All of the aircrew were rescued and taken back to Hopeman Harbour where they were welcomed by the local women with hot drinks and a brandy. Following this incident and for a considerable time afterwords many parts of the plane were washed up on the beach in Sanny Findlay’s bay including a complete wheel assembly.
From Jimmy McPherson, Moray Street. – 2015 aged 90.
Many of the farmers who were required to grow food for the country were drafted in to the Home Guard where they ensured that all residents were ready for an emergency and ensured that all house windows and doors were ‘blacked-out’ when lights were used.
The following spreadsheet lists Hopeman men lost during both wars and is part of a document compiled by John Rennie, a historian from Edinburgh. The full document contains much more information on each person is held in the Memorial Hall and available to the public. Within this document John has noted that there are two names missing from any of the military records with a common reason for both. David McPherson was badly gassed on three occasions and was sent home before the end of WW1. His death certificate gives the cause of death as pulmonary tuberculosis and he died at home on 16th February 1919. The other man was Daniel More who was also sent home before the war ended and he died there also of T.B. on 22nd April 1918. Although the military records office accepted deaths until mid 1921 they may not have been informed by relatives.