WHEN I HEARD THE BELL. THE LOSS OF THE IOLAIRE.

MacLeod, John.


£30.00




Birlinn Ltd., Edinburgh, 1st ed., 2009. (Viii) + 292 pp., 4 charts + photo e.p's. D.j., 20 x 16cm. FINE. Presentation copy, signed & inscribed by the author. On the last day of 1918, hours away from the first year of peace since war broke out in 1914, hundred on naval reservists from the Western Isles poured off successive trains onto the quay at Kyle of Lochalsh. The Admiralty had made no adequate arrangements for their journey home, and a recently requisitioned steam yacht, HMY IOLAIRE, was pressed into service to transport the libertymen to Stornoway. The vessel set sail, grossly overcrowded, and with lifebelts for less than a third of the ratings. Around 2 am, in pitch black stormy conditions, the IOLAIRE ran onto rocks only yards from the harbour entrance where friends and relatives waited to greet them. Over 200 sailors drowned, at least 181 of them natives of Lewis and Harris ' men who had survived the perils of war only to die on their own doorstep. The author recalls this tragedy which remains little known beyond the Western Isles.


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