Pages 224 and 225 of the evidence from the Dewar Commission sheds light on the background to the large numbers of Lewismen who were in the Royal Naval Reserve at the time of the First World War. The war broke out less than two years after Sir John Dewar came to Stornoway.
10,676. A good many of them are on Naval Reserve?
——Yes ; there are something like 1800 men on the Naval Reserve. Every man in Lewis is trained man. They are all Militiaman or Reserve man. Every able-bodied man is a trained man.
10,677. They have a considerable income from the Naval Reserve and from the Militia too ?
—Yes, as a retaining fee from the Naval Reserve they get £6, and they have to go every second year on board ship, and they get 10s. a week and subsistence money and travelling expenses. The whole amount coming from the Reserve alone to the island is about £15,000. The whole reserve battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders are Lewis men, and a considerable proportion of the Camerons and the Gordons also.
10,678. Do they bring home £3 to £4 each?
—Yes. In connection with the Naval Reserve, I may mention that at the end of twenty years' service they get a gratuity of £50, when they attain the age of forty years. The average number of gratuities now falling due is a hundred in the year. It will be interesting to you to know that a large number of the improved houses are the result of these gratuities.