Gourdon set to remember Bella

Alan Ritchie (left) presenting Dave Ramsay with the hand-made working model of his great-grandfather's boat the 'Happy Return', named after his return from Germany in 1918. The boat is now on permanent display in the Maggie Law Maritime Museum.

Alan Ritchie (left) presenting Dave Ramsay with the hand-made working model of his great-grandfather's boat the 'Happy Return', named after his return from Germany in 1918. The boat is now on permanent display in the Maggie Law Maritime Museum.

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On Sunday September 25 a major event will take place in Gourdon to celebrate the centenary of a World War I incident which has been long remembered in the village.

On September 25, 1916, Gourdon fishing boat the Bella, with a crew of six men, set sail for fishing grounds just off Catterline Bay.

A German U-boat surfaced, took the men onboard, blew up their boat and took them off to Germany as prisoners of war. They returned safely to Gourdon in 1918 at the end of the war.

In a joint partnership programme between the Maggie Law Maritime Museum in Gourdon, and Mearns Heritage Services, a week-long programme of events has been planned to celebrate the centenary of the Bella incident.

Gourdon man Alan Ritchie, the great-grandson of James (Auld Brimy) Ritchie, the skipper of the Bella, has been working along with Dave Ramsay of Mearns Heritage Services, to bring together the descendants of the six crew members to take part in the centenary celebrations.

They will be part of a wide range of invited guests, including the Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, Viscount and Viscountess Arbuthnott, the German Consul, local dignitaries, and a cross-section of representatives from the Gourdon fishing community, and community groups.

Commenting on the event, Mr Ramsay said: “This is an opportunity for Gourdon to celebrate a unique piece of local maritime history.

“The story has tremendous heritage importance and brings out a sense of civic pride in the community.

“It is right to afford the descendants of the families, heritage organisations and and community representatives the opportunity to meet, reflect and celebrate the 100 years which have passed since that day off Catterline Bay”.

There will be an opportunity for the public to be part of the commemmorative event on Sunday September 25 at 11.30am in the school playground, and thereafter a buffet lunch will be provided for approximately 80 invited guests.

A week-long programme of local events leading up to the Sunday event will feature a maritime-themed evening of Poems and Pints, an illustrated talk by internationally acclaimed diver Rod McDonald, a visit to Gourdon Harbour by Montrose Lifeboat and a variety of other activities.

Visit www.maggielaw.co.uk for more details, or see the Mearns Leader What’s on Section on page 30 of the paper.