Friday, 5 October 2012

HMS Curacao

HMS Curacao was sunk on 2 October 1942 with the loss of several hundred naval personnel. She was sliced into by the troop carrier and former liner the Queen Mary off the coast of Ireland. Several casualties from this disaster were washed up on shores in the islands off the Scottish west coast. Some of them at Elgol, according to the West Highland Free Press of 5 October 2012, and a service of commemoration was held at Ashaig cemetery in Skye on the 70th anniversary of the sinking.

One of the casualties was from Lewis, AB Donald Maciver of 2 Newvalley, Stornoway. He was the son of Malcolm and Catherine Maciver, aged 26 at the time of his death. He was serving in the Royal Navy, registration C/JX259465. He is remembered on the Lewis War Memorial as well as on a CWGC gravestone in Sandwick Cemetery near Stornoway.

The Stornoway Gazette for 27 November 1942 writes:

In October, Donald Maciver, son of Mr and Mrs Maciver, 2 New Valley, Laxdale, was reported missing. His death has since been confirmed. The body was found at Kilmory Bay, Isle of Rhum, and buried there by the civil authorities.

Only 20 years of age, Donald was a student in Arts at Glasgow University. He joined the Navy for the duration and served for some time on a well-known cruiser. He was a fine, cheerful and upright young man of good promise, exceedingly well liked, and is much missed in the district. Much sympathy is felt for the sorrowing parents and family.

It should be noted that Donald's age at death was 26, not 20 as quoted by the Gazette; how he was transferred from the Isle of Rum is not recorded.

Not far from Rhum, in the neighbouring island of Eigg, we find two graves in Kildonan Cemetery, also casualties from HMS Curacao. The identity of these casualties is Known Unto God.

Image courtesy Maggie Fyffe, Isle of Eigg

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