Posted by on January 1, 2019 2:00 am
Categories: µ Newsjones

The Isle of Lewis is still coming to terms with a maritime disaster that killed 201 men a century ago

Margaret Ferguson’s family home on the Isle of Lewis was crowded with portraits. There were more than a hundred, and each was of a man looking out from the canvas. Veterans of the first world war, each man drowned on the same night, on the same boat, a short distance from safety.

In heavy seas and a pitch-black night, an overcrowded steam yacht taking them home on leave, the Iolaire, struck a treacherous reef known as the Beasts of Holm in the early hours of New Year’s Day 1919. They were barely a mile from Stornoway harbour and 50 yards from the shore, and of the 280 men on board, only 79 survived.

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