Page last updated at 23:45 GMT, Sunday, 10 August 2008 00:45 UK

Conference to explore war effort

Soldiers in World War I
The sacrifices of World War I will be examined during the conference

Experts are to explore claims that a disproportionate number of people from the Highlands and Islands fought, and died, serving in the UK armed forces.

The three-day conference on Lewis, Island Heroes - the Hebrides and UK Military History, starts on Monday.

Alayne Barton, of the Islands Book Trust, said it was an "accepted fact" that in terms of population size, the region made the biggest contribution.

The trust has invited a number of speakers to discuss the topic.

Ms Barton said: "The Highlands and Islands have strong military connections going back to Jacobite times and since Culloden right through to World War I up to the modern day."

Men drowned

The conference will examine the soldiers' roles in military campaigns since the raising of Highland regiments in the 1700s.

The trust said while the large numbers involved in the conflicts of the 20th Century were well-known, it was less well appreciated that high concentrations of personnel in the Hebrides was a phenomenon of long-standing, going back 250 years.

Speakers - including Andrew Mackillop of the University of Aberdeen's history department - will also discuss actions during American and Napoleonic wars.

Another subject in the programme is a look at the Iolaire Disaster, when hundreds of men drowned at the Beasts of Holm two miles south of Stornoway on their return by sea from World War I.

The trust has been trying to find material for an exhibition of photographs and wartime memorabilia.

A coach trip has also been planned for Tuesday to a war memorial, airfield, artillery battery and the Iolaire monument.

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