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Newsletter for 1st December 2023

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  • Newsletter for 1st December 2023

    Electric Scotland News

    Wishing you all a Happy St. Andrew's Day. The Daily Record has done a feature on this and I've included a link to it in our News section below.


    Got our first wee fall of snow in Chatham, only a couple of inches. It is certainly colder these days for sure. I note part of the US got some heavy falls of snow and believe Scotland is due some as well.


    Did my update to my Canadian Experience for August through to November 2023 which you can read at:

    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers

    I am partly doing this to build an archive of modern news from and about Scotland and world news stories that can affect Scotland and as all the newsletters are archived and also indexed on search engines it becomes a good resource. I might also add that in a number of newspapers you will find many comments which can be just as interesting as the news story itself and of course you can also add your own comments if you wish which I do myself from time to time. Here is what caught my eye this week...

    Archaeologists Find Long-Lost Monastery in Scotland
    For 10 years, archaeologists have been searching for Scotland’s lost Monastery of Deer. They finally found it 80 meters from the ruins of Deer Abbey, in Aberdeenshire.

    Read more at:

    The WHO is making a power grab with the complicity of our politicians
    IF YOU haven’t heard already, proposals are currently being negotiated in secret that will fundamentally change our individual freedoms, our sovereignty and our democracy in relation to health care in the UK.

    Read more at:

    Orkney develops solar-powered boat for Philippines
    An Orkney company has helped to build a solar-powered version of a "banca" boat which has been launched in the Philippines. The traditional vessels are typically made of wood and powered by a diesel engine. But Stromness-based Aquatera said this was the first of its kind to be powered by renewables.

    Read more at:

    Nissan to lead 2bn investment in UK electric car plant
    Nissan and its partners have announced a 2bn plan to build three electric car models at its Sunderland factory.

    Read more at:

    How AUKUS is helping Western democracies square up to China in the Pacific
    The Indo-Pacific region is gradually becoming the economic engine-room of the world, reports a recent government update on AUKUS, the trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the United States which was agreed in September 2021. AUKUS’s first initiative is a collaboration on a new fleet of nuclear-powered SSN submarines for the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

    Read more at:

    Debunking single parent stereotypes
    Numerous studies have suggested that children from single-parent families are worse off than those who have two parents at home. But a deeper look at the detail behind the stats tells us that many of the supposed negative outcomes of coming from a single-parent family are not supported by strong data.

    Read more at:

    Son of Hamas Co-Founder Denounces Group at UN, Exposes 'Savage' Indoctrination of Palestinian Kids
    The son of a co-founder of Hamas blasted the terror organization in a blistering half-hour speech at the United Nations on Monday. Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hamas co-founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, defected from the terrorist group in the late '90s and secretly worked with Israel's security services to expose and prevent several Hamas terrorist attacks. He later gave his life to Christ and wrote a 2010 autobiography titled Son of Hamas. Yousef, 45, now endeavors to expose the true face of Hamas' genocidal death cult.

    Watch this at:

    The value of university
    It's hardly news that graduates are saddled with debts, but the misalignment of risk between the student, the state and the university is far less understood. Solving this would be fairer for young people who've been promised that a degree is the only path to a 'good' job, and better value for the taxpayer.

    Read more at:

    The Erasure of Tibet
    China’s brutal treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang has won tremendous international attention in recent years. But the plight of another oppressed ethnic group has flown largely under the radar. In Tibet, China's instrument of terror is not dystopian camps, but residential schools.

    Read more at:

    SNP told independence dream makes no economic sense after own export data blows it apart
    Scottish exports to the UK are triple those of exports to the whole of the European Union, the figures have indicated.

    Read more at:

    What is St Andrew's Day in Scotland and why we celebrate it every year
    In honour of St Andrew's Day, the Daily Record has rounded up a history of the historic Scottish holiday, as well as some key information about St Andrew himself

    Read more at:

    Conrad Black: Globe and Mail Trump editorial nothing but ignorant rubbish
    On Nov. 20, the Globe and Mail published an editorial about Donald Trump.

    Read more at:

    Alex Salmond launches new Scottish independence plan
    The former first minister wants to hold a vote next year on the 10th anniversary of the 2014 ballot.

    Read more at:

    Ex-Tory minister Lord James Douglas-Hamilton dies aged 81
    Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, who served as a Scottish Office minister under Margaret Thatcher and John Major, has died at the age of 81.

    Read more at:

    Call for change in literacy teaching as study shows one in three kids struggle
    Teachers need more skills and guidance on how to help children who are struggling to read, academics behind a new nationwide survey say.

    Read more at:

    Electric Canadian

    The Grain Grower's Guide
    Grain Growers' Guide (1908-1928) is described as "the most important publication of the early farm movement."

    Learn more at:

    Canadian Cultural Mosaic
    A three part video series and a book to read.

    You can get to this at:

    Canadian Mosaic
    The Making of a Northern Nation By John Murray Gibbon (1939) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Thoughts on a Sunday Morning - the 26th day of November 2023
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can watch this at:

    Four Years on the Georgian Bay
    Life among the Rocks, Information for Tourists, Campers and Prospective Settlers, Pprtraying the Fishing & Hunting Grounds, Islands and Summer Resorts to French River with Scenic Views & Descriptions (1799) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Geographical Distribution of Forest Trees in Canada
    By Dr. Robert Bell, F.R.S. (1897) (pdf)

    You can read this report at:

    An autobiography by Frederick Marryat (1849) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Electric Scotland

    Destruction of Scottish Agriculture
    A Statement of Facts respecting the present position of Agriculture in Scotland, especially in East Lothian, with some particulars of thr case of Mr. James M. Russell and an Appeal to the Farmers, The Christian Ministers, the Politicians, the Journalists, and the General Public of Scotland, in Relation to the Existing Crisis, by the Rev. George Brooks (1886) (pdf)

    You can read this statement at:

    Howburn Farm and the Scottish Hamburgian
    By Torben Bjarke Ballin, Lithic Research

    You can read this research document at:

    Dry Stone Walls
    Exploring the art of building dry stone walls

    Books and Videos on the subject which you can watch and read at:

    Biographies of Working Men
    By Grant Allen, B.A. (1890) (pdf)

    You can read about them at:

    The Stonemason and the Bricklayer
    Being Practical details and drawings illustrating the various departments of the industrial arts of Masonary and Bricklaying with notes on the materials used: stones, bricks, tiles, limes, mortars, cements and concretes by various practical writers edited by the Editor of "The Industrial Self-Instructor" (1891) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Art of Masonry in Britain
    By William Diack (1904) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    Practical Treatise of the Art of Masonry and Stone-Cutting
    By Peter Nicholson, Esq., Architect and Engineer (third edition) (1835) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:

    The Great Clans of Scotland - Clan Fraser - Heritage Video Series - 1992
    Added this video to our Clan Fraser page which you can watch at:

    Clan MacBean, Inverness Scotland, Celebrations 2022, Inauguration and Tribute
    Added a video of this event to the foot of our clan page for McBean. Also added is a link to an old book, The Expert Swordman's Companion: Or the True Art of Self-defence: With an Account of the Author's Life, and His Transactions During the Wars with France. To which is Annexed, the Art of Gunnerie by Donald McBane (1728) (pdf)

    You can get to all this at:

    Formation of the kingdom of Alba
    This 2 part video is part of the Advanced Higher History course on Northern Britain, from the Iron Age to 1034. Part of a unit on Kingdom of Alba, it covers the factors behind the formation of Alba and its rise as a 'new' kingdom in Northern Britain by 900AD.

    You can watch this at:

    Dunan - the ancient fort over Dunoon, Argyll
    Added a video of this area to our Gazeteer page

    You can watch this at:

    2022 Clan Lamont Gathering in Dunoon, Scotland
    Added a video of this event to the foot of our clan page for Lamont which you can watch at:

    Clan Chattan Annual General Meeting 2022 Lochardil House Inverness Scotland
    Added a video of this event to the foot of our clan page for Chattan at:

    The R.M.L.L At Forton Barracks by Fred. T. Jane
    Taken from the 1897 edition of Good Words, Edited by the Very Rev. Donald MacLeod, D.D., one of her Majestiy's Chaplains

    FORTON Barracks, Gosport, Hants, though comparatively few people seem to know it, are the headquarters of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, and the marines, so some of them would say, are the oldest naval force in existence, for they fought battles thousands of years ago, whereas bluejackets are a comparatively new invention. New, that is, in that the militant “ sailor ” of the old days, in the days of Salamis, Arginusae, Actium, and right on till after the times of Elizabeth, was a marine. He fought either on shore or at sea; like Joe, the marine of to-day, he was a man “to go anywhere or do anything.” Then, as now, the marines were primarily a sea-force. [The Royal Marines were embodied by Charles II. in 1664. Until comparatively recent times naval officers held commissions in the force. Previous to this soldiers were taken on board ship, but so far back as the Peloponnesian war we read of Epibataa—sea-going soldiers —marines; and, earlier still, the Egyptians maintained an amphibious force—they never, in fact, had either soldiers or sailors, but always marines.]

    In some navies — the Russian for instance — the marines have a sailor-like uniform, and it is hard to distinguish Joe from Jack; but in our own Service they are dressed much as soldiers, and only distinguishable from them by their superior physique, their blue-pointed cuffs, and a few small details not noticeable to a casual glance. The superior physique is due to the fact that marines are still recruited on the old long-service system: a man enters the force and remains there till he has passed his prime, whereas in the army he may, and generally does, leave when still quite young.

    However, since this article is not a dissertation upon the glories of the R.M.L.I., but only an account of how they live and learn upon land, I must hasten onward and describe Forton. The barracks themselves are a fine block of buildings, but they call for no general attention, since all barracks are more or less alike, and were they all that is to be seen at Forton there would be little to write about. Not but what there are a thousand little things to interest one in all the evidences of a paternal government there to be found, for Forton is a veritable little city in itself. In the “dry canteen,” where they sell eatables and hardware stuff, the marine can purchase everything, from a pipe to a scent sachet, from a pint of peas to a pate de fois gras, the best of everything at cost price. Near at hand is the theatre, officially known as the lecture hall, where a very good stage is rigged up, and interesting dramatic performances take place fairly frequently; around are gardens bright and cheerful: everything, in fine, is done to make the barracks a home to the men who live there. Behind the stables, where are kept the horses of the mounted marine officers (not horse-marines, as my guide explained), and hard by the married-quarters of the two Sergeant-Majors and the Provost-Sergeant are wash-houses with wonderful inventions for the speedy drying of clothes, for the convenience of the men’s wives who do the regimental washing. There is also a recreation room, a veritable club-house, containing billiard tables and all other allurements such as Joe may fancy, and proud the R.M.L.I. are of this place, for no other barracks have its equal. Here, too, the honoured remains of the regimental goat repose in a glass case.

    This goat has a history—a romantic one. During the Soudanese campaign the marines made a long forced march to Tokar. They tramped across the burning sands, mile after mile, hoping to relieve the beleagured town, but they reached it too late to save the wretched inhabitants; the dervishes of Osman Digna had captured and sacked the place : when the marines reached it they found it in flames, and the only living thing was a terrified goat. The “jollies,” like blue-jackets, love dumb animals, and the goat was carried away on the shoulders of a burly marine, to become the pet of the troops, and, after the return to England, the regimental darling. At Forton it used to mount with the guard every morning, but fate was averse to its becoming an “old soldier,” the English climate was very different to that of its native land, despite all the care and attention lavished upon it, it died the second winter after its arrival.

    Ere we pass beyond the barracks we may well peep into the officers’ quarters, glancing into “The Silent Room” where books abound, and the portrait of Hannah Snell, sometime of the Royal Marines, who fought many battles and was often wounded without her sex being discovered, is placed in a prominent position. Hard by is the mess-room, with the plate in great glass cases and the tattered Colours hanging over the door; here is also an equestrian portrait of George the Third—said to be the only one extant— which the Queen has wished to purchase more than once. As, however, the officers value the painting beyond gold, and Her Majesty has carefully abstained from any royal command in the matter, the picture still remains over the mantelpiece, and before it stand quaint semi-circular tables with silk curtains running on a raised rod in the front of them; tables that a hundred years ago, in the old five-bottle days, did duty round the fire on winter evenings, when, with faces shielded by the screen from the glare, and feet stretched out underneath to be warmed by the cheerful blaze, men drank long and deep as the custom was in the “good old times.”

    Above “The Silent Room” is a fine billiard-room, the walls of which are adorned with caricatures of the officers belonging to the division, and very funny and clever some of these are, though remarkably unflattering occasionally. There is a melancholy interest in some of these “portraits,” for more than one of the men so humorously depicted has since given his life for his country. Our soldiers only go out for little wars occasionally, but marines are always being shot at in some part of the world.

    Behind the barracks lies the naval-gunnery quarter, where, under the supervision of Captain G. D’Arcy Anderson and Lieutenant Farquharson, Joe the marine learns the art of killing. Effectually he learns it, too; for not only does he acquire the ordinary military methods, but also the nautical ones with Nordenfelts, Hotchkiss, 4*7- and 6-inch quick-firers, and big guns as well, the largest of these being a huge 8-inch breech-loader of a rather antiquated pattern, that no longer obtains in the Navy, and which is now mounted in very few ships.

    The day that I went to Forton, I found the gunnery-supervisor seeing to Maxim gun practice over the creek. The view was an interesting one. The tide was out, and the streak of blue water wound in serpentine curves through the brown and emerald weedy mud, away towards the distant harbour, where great battleships lay alongside the jetties or in the basins beyond, till they faded into an infinity of haze, a forest of masts dimly visible in the smoke. To the left, a mile off, low down and surrounded by earthworks are the powder magazines, where are stored explosives of one sort and another, enough, did they blow up, to lay all Portsmouth in ruins. Twice have there been explosions, small affairs that luckily did not spread; but, even so, every one up at Forton felt it, and many were blown off their legs, and some burning fragments fell heavily all over the barracks, though fortunately, no one was hurt much there on either occasion. In the magazine the death-roll was heavy, eleven men being killed and many wounded in one disaster.

    The worst of these explosions is that there is never any finding out how they occurred —the site of a magazine becomes a big, black hole, and, of course, no trace remains of the men'who were in it at the time it “went up.” Still there is no doubt that familiarity with powerful explosives breeds contempt, and many men grow careless despite the severe and stringent rules framed for their protection; and there are always some, who in an idle moment will play with the fuse of a loaded shell, just as the skipper of a powder ship will sit on a barrel of gunpowder and smoke.

    Behind the creek lies an interesting memento of the old French War, a walled-in space where lie buried countless prisoners who died during captivity. Most of the graves are nameless mounds, but there are three headstones. The inscriptions upon these are nearly undecipherable; one bears the name of Eugene -------- (the remainder
    cannot be read). This spot is sacred, no one ever enters it; but alongside, in a smaller walled space, convicts were buried, and this is utilised as a practice-ground for buglers, for here is the most out-of-the-way corner obtainable for practice, and diabolical are the noises that the learners make. A hundred years is a long time; it is interesting, therefore, to note the respect still paid to the graves of brave Frenchmen in a place where space is very valuable.

    All sorts of legends crowd around this lonely spot. It is, of course, haunted; and in the old days, no sentry there would keep at his post at midnight. Flogging as a preventive of the terror was useless, and eventually the sentries had to be doubled. Nowadays the ghost is seldom seen, and even when it appears no two accounts agree as to what its form may be. Its latest authenticated appearance was at the time of the last Fenian scare, about fifteen years ago, when a guard was established to look after the magazine hard by, and the sentries had orders to shoot any one who did not halt at the challenge.

    It was on a winter evening, deep snow upon the ground, and all had gone well till after midnight. Then, suddenly, there came a sentry’s challenge, and almost immediately the report of a rifle, followed shortly by another. The guard turned out, racing hither and thither in the snow, raising a hue and cry first in this direction, then in that. At last things settled down, and when the captain of the guard investigated the matter, he learned from the sentry that a large, black “ hing” had jumped over the graveyard wall, and run at him on all fours when he challenged. He fired, whereupon the “ Thing ” rose to its feet, and running sometimes on all fours, sometimes upright, rushed towards the creek followed by the sentry and the guard. Arrived at the creek it plunged in, breaking the ice, and though the pursuers waited long nothing was ever seen of it again. The captain, but half believing the story, yet thinking that some attempt may have been made, went and looked for the traces of the footsteps, which were visible enough in the moonlight. And now comes the extraordinary part of the story’. For some twenty yards there would be a man's footprints, then, for a space, those of a large animal; sometimes the one, sometimes the other, but never the two together!

    Thus the Forton mystery. The ice was broken and the creek dragged the next day, but nothing was ever found. No satisfactory solution has ever been discovered, for the footprints began suddenly in the centre of the old burial ground, and led thence towards the magazine, sometimes man and sometimes beast, until they ended on the shores of the creek.

    There are other ghost stories hanging around this spot, but they are mostly gruesome and horrible, rather than interesting. One, however, is worthy of mention since it has a pathetic tenderness about it, not usual in the ghost story, though it is only remembered nowadays by “ five badgers ” after the second gallon. Once, long ago, the two sentries were surprised to see a woman coming toward them in the twilight. It seemed early for a ghost, and while they still pondered and hesitated she came up to them and said something in a foreign tongue. Spanish, they took it to be. They tried to explain that they did not speak her language, but she only smiled sweetly and sadly, and walked on. They lost her in the gloaming, but presently as they argued whether or no she were a ghost, one of them, the bolder of the two, peeped over the wall into the burial ground, and saw her standing over one of the graves. And beside her stood a French officer in uniform, so near that they could see his face, and they saw him kiss the woman as she came to him, and they heard him speaking words of love. Thereupon the other sentry, who was not a sentimental man, plucked up courage and looking over the wall, too, shouted out some coarse joke; and with the shouting both the officer and the lady vanished. Thereupon he fired, and both of them ran for it, meeting the guard before they had gone many steps, and the sergeant of the guard, coming back with them, looked over the wall, too. No one was visible, but on one of the graves were some tall white flowers that had not been there before. They dared not go nearer then; but in the daylight they went to look closer. The flowers had vanished; and all that they ever found was a soiled piece of paper on which was written Jusqtf a la morte—et apres.

    However, ghosts are never seen nowadays; and they say that the buglers and the vicious rattle of the Maxim have driven them away.

    The Maxim firing at Forton is entirely with blank ammunition; the ball practice being carried out on board the R.M. launch at Spithead. It is a wonderful weapon, the Maxim, with which it is possible, as most people know nowadays, to fire either single shots or a stream at the rate of several hundred a minute, the loading and firing being performed automatically by the force of the recoil. All that the operator has to do is to keep his thumbs pressed upon a lever and a button, and aim, then the weapon will blaze away till the band of cartridges is emptied. The only objections to a Maxim are that it is impossible to control the rate of fire, and that with careless operators “ jams ” are frequent. With intelligent men working it, however, anything wrong can be righted in a few seconds. Stops have to be made occasionally to allow the water chamber which surrounds the barrel to cool; it boils in quite a short while, so great is the heat of the firing!

    The most curious feature of a Maxim—to a layman—is the stream of empty cartridges shot out in front of the gun; they fall so rapidly that they appear a solid mass of metal.

    In various side-sheds instruction classes go on; in some, verbal lectures on guns and explosives, in others, big gun drill. There is a V popular idea that “red marines” (as the marine light infantry are termed from the colour of their uniforms), are, to all intents and purposes, mere soldiers who go to sea in men-of-war. There could be no greater mistake. Every form of big gun exercise is learnt as well, and the only difference between “red marines” and “blue marines” (artillery), is that the latter do field gun exercise also. The curious thing about it is that, notwithstanding all these extra duties, the Marines always march past infinitely better than ordinary infantry. Bluejackets generally “go past like a wall,” too; but the jovial Jack is rather out of court in these matters, from a military point of view —since the left hand of every sailor on -these occasions is hitched into the sleeve of the man next to him, whereas the soldier and marine march with arms free.

    In the sheds, winch internally bear a very close resemblance to gun-decks of men-of-war, are mounted guns of various types, the now antique 9-inch muzzle-loader that only our obsolete ironclads carry, breech-loaders, and quick-firers of all sorts. The gun-ports of these sheds are fitted just like man-of-war ports, and after the “firing” of the gun, there comes the bang of the hastily-shut port, just as on ship board. Number One •of the gun directing the broadside, raises and lowers his hand, allowing in imagination for the roll of the ship putting the gun on and off the target; and he is taught to stand in the curious nautical attitude, appropriate to his duties, which is more useful than picturesque. Here may be seen men running, dragging behind them the heavy shell for the gun; there a party desert their gun and rush to put out a fire that in fancy burns the foke’s’le where an enemy’s shell has burst. Elsewhere, the men are lying around their gun; a drill as important as any, for lying down is likely to save many a life in action, and it is necessary to know how to lie, a thing that there are many ways of doing—the correct and orthodox one being so to lie that the hands will afford an in--stant leverage for springing up again at the order.

    So the drill goes on, the men stripped to •the waist, for it is hot work in the summertime, and above the din sound the loud voices of the sergeant-instructors bawling out a seeming unintelligible cataract of instructions a la drill-book.

    The most interesting shed is that which contains a Nordenfeldt gun mounted upon a “rolling-motion platform.” This platform is so constructed that by turning a couple of handles it can be given a motion similar to that of a rolling ship, and a realistic motion it is, especially when the handle turners work with a will. It is trying to the recruit on such occasions, at times, indeed, more than trying, if all accounts be true!

    While the platform is thus moving the men fire the Nordenfelt, using of course, the Morris-tube. [A Morris-tube is practically a small rifle barrel of diminutive bore, that is inserted inside the barrel of a Nordenfelt or rifle. The bullets are about the size of those from a rook-rifle, and practice at handling the larger weapon is thus obtained for a trifling cost. It can also be fired in a confined space where the ordinary bullet could not be used.] Facing them is a target painted dark, and along a gutter at the base of this runs a dummy torpedo-boat, whitewashed to represent a boat under the searchlight. It is not an easy target, for, mounted upon crank wheels, it “bobs” in a most natural fashion, and this, combined with the everlasting motion of the platform, makes straight shooting a difficult thing.

    Rifle practice with the Morris-tube is carried on in another shed, a long narrow one, with the men lying at one end and the targets at the other.

    No description of Forton Barracks would be complete without a reference to The Globe and Laurel, the journal of the Royal Marines. There are several editors at different depots, but the editorial headquarters are at Forton. It is a brightly written little paper with a few illustrations, published monthly at a penny, and it has the rare experience, for a regimental concern, of being self-supporting. It deals largely with matters having to do with the “ sea-soldiers,” but it also contains readable stories and other matters of general interest, and so energetic are the editors that they have publishing, for the benefit of the magazine, as a half-crown volume under the cheerful title of “The Petrified Eye,” a reprint of naval stories that have appeared in their pages.

    The multifarious duties of marines afloat and ashore do not,enter into the scope of this article, it is enough to quote the words of the great St. Vincent, who, speaking of them, said:

    “There never was an appeal made to them for honour, courage, or loyalty, that they did not more than realise my highest expectations. If ever the hour of real danger should come to England, the marines will be found the country’s sheet-anchor.”

    Someone—a linesman, possibly—has said that the admiral also added in a loud voice:
    ‘Tell that to the marines,” and hence the origin of the famous phrase! But this is doubtless a canard.

    For the rest, any marine officer will tell you that it is a common thing on shipboard to hear: “Send me twenty blue-jackets or half-a-dozen marines,” and will go on to show you how this proves St. Vincent’s opinion of the force.

    On the other hand, any naval officer will explain that the order is always the other way about; however, since both sides ought to look at the matter from their own stand-point and with a jealous regard for their own “arm,” we need not cavil or investigate, but say, like the fabled Irishman, “They're both right!” Be that as it may, the marines are always to the fore when anything is to be done, and the marine officer, who grumbles that he does not get enough work to do, is so common that he is no longer remarked on. Per Mare, per Terram—by sea or by land—they are ever ready to do their duty for the Empire and the Queen.


    Weekend is almost here and hope it's a good one for you and wishing you a Happy St. Andrew's Day