Media Release: BBC Radio Nan Gaidheal marks the start of WW1 with a special series of programmes


AS nations across the globe prepare to commemorate 100 years since the start of World War One, the personal sacrifices of those who went to the front line – as well as those who remained at home – will be marked by current generations.

It is estimated that the Great War claimed the lives of around 17 million soldiers and civilians, which includes around 700,000 UK soldiers who were killed.

As a result, remembering the unique story that each person had to tell is not always straightforward, especially when so many of those who survived were reluctant to discuss their own sacrifices with future generations.

But now, to mark the start of World War One, and continuing throughout the next four years, BBC Radio nan Gaidheal will broadcast a series of programmes capturing the events of the war from a Highland and Islands perspective, where often fragile – but resilient – communities suffered a greater impact than most.

Among the programmes will be a ten minute weekly digest of ‘Seachdain sa Chogadh’ (The War This Week)  as well as a range of in-depth broadcasts focusing on some of the tales that have survived this period and can be recounted.

The Radio nan Gaidheal feature schedule starts in August with the following programmes:-

Seachdain Sa Chogadh / The War This Week

Thursday evenings at 9.03pm (repeated Saturday mornings at 10.50am)

A constant during Radio nan Gaidheal’s four years of war programming. An unmissable weekly ten-minute digest of events of WW1 from a Highland and Islands perspective. How the war affected these small communities is illustrated by poetry, resources from the Radio nan Gaidheal archive, extracts from newspapers, song, diary extracts, postcards, telegrams and other materials. Seachdain sa Chogadh is a comprehensive summary of the events of each week, incorporating the main news at the international and local level.

Dèanamaid Adhradh

Sunday 3 August at 9.00am (30 minutes)

Padre Hector Mackenzie delivers a special sermon commemorating the outbreak of World War One.

A’ Chiad Chogadh – Facal Toisich / An Introduction

Tuesday 5 August at 1.30pm (30 minutes)

Professor Matthew MacIver CBE examines the impact of the outbreak of World War One on small communities in the Highlands and Islands. Fishermen, crofters and part-time reservists left in their thousands; some families had multiple sons leave and many men gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Professor MacIver reflects on what these communities were like before 1914 and shows how Gaels were equipped with the necessary skills and resilience required during the war.

He begins at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle where his own grandfather‘s name is listed as one of the 205 men who lost their lives when HMS Iolaire sunk off the Lewis coast on the morning of 1 Jan 1919.

A’ Chiad Chogadh – Dòmhnall Macleòid Agus A Lizard (Donald Macleod and his Lizard)   

Tuesday 12 August at 1.30pm (30 minutes)

A unique insight into one man’s war, recorded by his family shortly before his death in 1981. Sea forth Highlander, Donald Macleod, from Lochs in Lewis, saw action in France, Mesopotamia and latterly Palestine, taking part in 27 battles and not once did he get home on leave in over four years. In Palestine he encountered a lizard who became his means of self-defence in pest control. He attached the lizard to his clothes keeping lice and flies at bay! Reluctant to part with his trusted friend at the end of the war, he had it preserved in glass in Jerusalem and brought it home to Lewis.

His family got glimpses of the lizard from time to time but Donald never spoke to them about his war years until he shared his story with his niece, Pat Macleod, who recorded it on cassette. A priceless account which they are now sharing with us.

A’ Chiad Chogadh – Cuimhneachain / Mementoes

Tuesday 19 August at 1.30pm (30 minutes)

A unique insight on how mementoes of World War One veterans can inform families of the valours of their loved ones and in doing so, enhance their legacy.

BBC Radio nan Gaidheal can be listened to on 103.5-105FM and on DAB digital radio. It can also be listened to via many television platforms.

To listen to any of the World War One programmes again on BBC iPlayer, visit: Programmes are normally available for seven days after initial transmission.


For further information please contact Gary McQueen or Rachel Woodford at Media House on 0141 220 6040 or email /

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Contact: Gary McQueen
Phone: 01412206040