Thursday, 12 April 2012

HMS Racoon

Yesterday, I visited the small graveyard at Maraig, the North Harris village that nestles under the Clisham. You pass it on the road to Reinigeadal. Two wargraves can be found in the cemetery. One is for a local man, Neil Campbell, who lost his life on HM drifter Arkady on 18 June 1917. The other is in memory of Edward Samuel Cotmore, a stoker on HMS Racoon. I copy this information from
H.M.S. Racoon was a Beagle class, three funnelled coal burning destroyer displacing some 950 tons - she was built and launched from the Cammell Laird shipyard in 1910.  Armaments included - one 4" Primary and three 12 lb secondary guns plus  two 18" centreline torpedo tubes -  she carried four torpedoes. Her official crew compliment was 96 but at the time of her loss she was carrying  91 seamen under the command of Lt. George Napier. During the early hours of January 9th, 1918  she was en route from Liverpool to Lough Swilly to take up anti-submarine and convoy duties in the Northern Approaches,  in heavy sea conditions and while experiencing  snow blizzards she struck rocks at the Garvan Isles and sank with the loss of all hands.
The Garvas Isles are near Malin Head, in the far northwest of Ireland. Did Edward Cotmore's remain wash up on the coast of Harris? None of his 90 shipmates, including commanding officer George Napier, survived. The bodies of about 60 of them were never recovered; another 30 lie buried in cemeteries on the north coast of Ireland (as was); one in Barra, one in the island of Coll and one in Sandwick Cemetery near Stornoway.And one in the small graveyard at Maraig.

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