Dalmore Daytime

Dalmore Daytime
Sandy Beach

Friday, 2 May 2008

Domhnull Lamont. Donald Macleod M.M.

Domhnull "Lamont"(or is it "Lamonn"?)was a cousin of my mother and of my father(remember they were themselves second cousins),and was a living legend in his day. As usual,the origin of the acronym of "Lamont" is long forgotten,if it were ever understood,but as Donald Macleod(yes,another one),he needed another handle to his name. When Donald's name was first mentioned in my presence,I was still a young lad,but the stories of his exploits,his great strength and his unquestionable courage were known throughout the west coast of Lewis,and beyond. When I first recall hearing of Domhnull Lamont,he had been "missing" for a great number of years(ie. neither his relatives nor anyone else knew much,if anything at all,about his whereabouts or his situation).When he was a young man in Borriston(Carloway),he was tall and gangly,possessing phenomenal strength,especially in his upper arms and hands. His wrists were thin and sinewy,and the width of hands was double that of another man. He appeared quiet,a loner who did not easily relate to other people. I'm sure in the jargon of today,Donald might have been placed somewhere at the U.V.end of the "spectrum",but I would not envy the professional who had to explain this to the young Donald.
It was said that Donald had a deep love of his mother,and that no one ever commanded his affections,except her. This tall,awkward young lad was called up by the army in 1914 to take on the Kaiser's army(not on his own,of course).He reported to Fort George garrison,the massive barracks of the Seaforth Highlanders,near Inverness. Donald found the first weeks of drill and marching very difficult,principally because he could not understand the clipped orders of the sergeant major on the parade ground.It did not seem to bear any resemblance to the King's English his teachers back in Carloway were so keen to inculcate. Donald's drilling was shambolic and the sergeant major's patience was exhausted. Walking up to Donald,and standing a few feet in front of him,the drill sergeant uttered these words,which would often have been used on parade grounds the length and breadth of Britain."Macleod,You may have broken your mother's heart,but you won't break mine". The words were hardly out of the poor man's mouth,before he lay unconscious on the parade ground in front of hundreds of raw recruits. Donald had taken these words to heart,and had flattened the sergeant with one punch. Later,after some time in the "glass house",Donald was ordered to run round the perimeter of Fort George four times carrying full pack.Donald put this little contretemps behind him, to emerge from training a highly trained marksman. He was to perform as a sniper in many parts of France during the First World War.
In the late 1960s or early 1970s,Domhnull arrived back in Lewis after a lifetime "somewhere else". It seems that, during his long absence,he had spent these years in the merchant navy,choosing Cardiff in Wales as his home port.Donald must have been close to 70 years old when he came to stay with some relatives in Carloway. Donald was not an easy man,but for some reason he had loved Dalmore as a boy. My Uncle Norman,then living at 9 Dalmore with his wife Jessie, offered to put Donald up for "a week or so". In fact, he was to see out the rest of his days here in Dalmore in contentment,with people who cared for him.

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