John Swinney endorses Bella work

Photo: Moira Reith'Neil McLennan foreground, Dave Ramsay, background
Photo: Moira Reith'Neil McLennan foreground, Dave Ramsay, background

A further endorsement to the success of the Bella Centenary Project in the Mearns, has been provided by the Scottish Government in a letter from John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, congratulating the participants on their involvement.

A whole programme and series of events to celebrate the story of the World War One story of the Gourdon fishing boat the Bella, has taken place this year, and has involved a wide range of community organisations and the three local schools of Catterline, Kinneff, and Gourdon.

On September 25 1916, the six man crew of the Gourdon fishing boat the “Bella” were fishing off Catterline Bay when a German U-boat surfaced, took the fishermen aboard and sunk the Bella. The men were taken to Germany as prisoners of war and returned safely to Gourdon in 1918 where they re-assumed their careers as fishermen. Various events were planned around this date culminating in a commemorative event at Gourdon on Sunday September 25. This included descendants of the crew of the Bella, and a visit and speech by the German Consul.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skill said, “The story of the Bella and her Kincardineshire crew is a little known part of the rich history of Scotland’s contribution to the war effort. I am delighted that the pupils of Gourdon, Kinneff, and Catterline primary schools, were able to research the details of this story and present their findings at such a high standard. World War One commemorations in the local community have benefitted considerably from this fine piece of partnership work between the schools and the community. It is good to know that children are learning about their history and heritage, and at the same time developing as active citizens in their local community.”

Dave Ramsay, Project Director of Mearns Heritage Services, organiser of the Centenary Project said, “This is a tremendous endorsement for the hard work of the head teachers, staff and pupils of the schools, the two Community Councils, the Maggie Law Maritime Museum and all the local organisations, individuals and sponsors who contributed so much to the success of the Project.”

The letter arrived and was read out to the pupils of Catterline school, on the very day that the school was about to record a song they had written about the demise of the Bella, as another extension of the Bella project. Send stories to