SNP MSP for the Western Isles Alasdair Allan is calling on the Ministry of Defence to designate the wreck of HMY IOLAIRE as a protected place under The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

HMY Iolaire sank on 1 January 1919 after striking rocks two miles from Stornoway and only yards from the shore where families were watching to welcome hundreds of World War I servicemen home.

Eighty-two servicemen survived and over 201 servicemen died in this tragic incident. Around a third of those known to be lost were never recovered from the sea and the wreck remains their final resting place.

Within weeks of the disaster, the Board of Admiralty sold the wreck to salvage contractors, however, following representations from victims’ families and friends and in Parliament, the Admiralty and the contractors agreed that operations for the salvage of the wreck should not proceed so long as any bodies remained unrecovered. 

This New Year’s Day marks the centenary of the disaster and there are a range of events taking place in the islands to commemorate those who were lost.

Alasdair Allan MSP for the Western Isles said:

“The sinking of HMY Iolaire off Lewis on the Beasts of Holm has left an indelible impression on the islands of Lewis and Harris.

“There was barely a family on the island that didn’t lose a blood relative in the Iolaire disaster and even now it is still very raw in people’s minds. As we approach the centenary of the sinking, it is important that the site is designated as a military maritime grave to both protect the site and commemorate the immeasurable sacrifice of those who served their country in a time of war and lost their lives so tragically close to home.

“I hope the Ministry of Defence will consider this request.”

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