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The authors of a new book about the Iolaire disaster are searching for photographs of the men who perished the ship crashed onto rocks outside Stornoway.


Over 200 naval men who were returning home at the end of WW1 drowned when the Admiralty yacht Iolaire sank on the Beasts of Holm in the early hours of  New Year's Day 1919.


Only 79 people made it ashore alive in what is Britain's worst peacetime maritime disaster.


The vast majority of the dead came from Lewis. Seven belonged to Harris while 31 were crew members from different parts of the UK.


A book to mark the forthcoming centenary of the loss s is arranged to give the situation pre-war, the prelude to the disaster, the disaster and aftermath including the burials and inquiries.


The effect on the island, families and survivors is also explored.  


The publication will list a comprehensive Who's Who of all aboard on the last voyage and the authors have traced the death dates of all but one of the survivors.


Another listing is of all the children who lost their fathers, with their dates of birth (and death in some instances).


The book also comments on the role the Admiralty played from the time Anderson Young, the Stoneyfield farmer, arrived at Vice Admiral Boyle's headquarters to report the matter.


Co-authors, Donald John MacLeod and Malcolm Macdonald, are appealing for more photographs of the individuals who were lost and saved that fateful stormy night.


Mr Macdonald said they : "We already have several photographs of the two Iolaires (the Iolaire and the Amalthaea), several of the Beasts of Holm and memorial, the Amalthaea (later renamed the Iolaire) football team, the men from Ness, Tolsta, North Lochs and some from other areas.  


“We thank the Commuin Eachdraidh (Local History Societies) from those areas that have assisted and we hope more might help to make this comprehensive book a fitting tribute to the men and families who suffered in the greatest tragedy Lewis and Harris have ever experienced.”


Artist Margaret Ferguson who is working on a series of paintings to commemorate the event has appealed for images of the Iolaire men and the authors shall make the images available to her “in order that the men will never be forgotten.”


Research work on the book has been financed by the writers themselves and any royalties accruing to the authors will go to the Bethesda Hospice in Stornoway.


Anybody that can help with a photograph or information, please contact Malcolm Macdonald at 17 Westview Terrace, Stornoway, Lewis, HS1 2HP. His phone number is 01851 703645 and his or e-mail contact is  


All photographs will be copied if in hard copy and returned immediately.  All photographs used will be duly credited in the book.


The images are required by May this year when the publishers commence designing the layout.










HMY Iolaire disaster photograph appeal

27 February 2017

The steam yacht Iolaire prior to the First World War