Thursday, 2 February 2006


In February 2006, I spent several hours in Stornoway library, looking up names. Names of men, who were lost in the Iolaire disaster, which I have mentioned before. It is one thing reading the dry factual details. Two hundred and five drowned. Their bodies washed ashore around Holm, Lower Sandwick and Stornoway. Seventy-five survived. Many bodies were never recovered.

It becomes more alive, for want of a better word, once you start to browse through the Roll of Honour 1914-18. This always makes me sad. You see that some villages were very badly affected. Out of some families, one son would survive, but the other drowned. It became even more poignant when I came across the pictures. About 60 images are reproduced in the Roll of Honour.

Outside Lewis, this tragedy is little known, although it is one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters of the 20th century. The effect it had on Lewis was severe. Already, several hundred men had been lost in battle and on the high seas. The death toll was further augmented by this disaster, which meant that 1 in every 6 men who signed up at the start of or in the course of the First World War never returned home.

We should not forget them.

The list of names is published on this webpage. Any comments, additions etc. welcome.

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