Stones collected from the home village of each of the 201 sailors lost on the Iolaire
are being incorporated into a new memorial.
Stornoway Amenity Trust, in partnership with the Nicolson Institute and supported
by Stornoway Historical Society, is working on the Iolaire Memorial Project to mark
the centenary of the sinking of the Iolaire on New Year’s Day in 1919 – the worst
peacetime maritime disaster in British waters.
Due to be unveiled later this month, the memorial in Carn Gardens by the Town Hall
will consist of a slate engraving on a wall. A stone cairn will include stones to
represent each man lost.
A bench donated by Stornoway Port Authority will also be put in place nearby.
The plan to include stones from the home village or town of all victims was devised
by pupils of The Nicolson Institute who have spent the last few months working on
Stones have now been collected in villages all over Lewis, Harris, Berneray (North
Uist) and also from the home towns of the 20 victims who were not from the Isles
– a project which has involved communities across the UK.
The memorial is currently under construction and will be unveiled at 11am on 23 March
by descendants of some of those lost in the Iolaire.
A procession of 201 Nicolson Institute pupils will walk to Carn Gardens ahead of
the unveiling event.
Among all the heartbreaking stories of loss in Lewis and across the Isles, the Stornoway
Amenity Trust and The Nicolson Institute project also uncovered more detailson some
of the 20 victims from mainland Scotland and England who were lost in the Iolaire.
The youngest sailor lost on the Iolaire was 17 year old David Macdonald from Aberdeen.
He was the signal boy. The Amenity Trust contacted Aberdeen Grammar School for assistance
in getting a stone to mark his loss. The school’s history department undertook some
research about him and provided a granite stone for the Stornoway memorial.
Two stones were received from the Isle of Wight. Royal Naval Reserve Lt Leonard Edmund
Cotter, 49, and Mercantile Marine Reserve chief petty officer Alfred William Henley,
45, were both lost.
Fred McCarthy from Hartlepool, England was part of the Iolaire’s crew and died that
fateful night. Back home he had been a bell-ringer at Stranton Church, Hartlepool,
and a member of the Durham and Newcastle Association of Bell-ringers. He is commemorated
on a plaque in Newcastle Cathedral.
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil assisted in finding three stones from the shores of
the Thames to be included in the memorial to commemorate the three London men who
perished - twenty two year old Albert Richard Matthews, William Joseph J Stanley,
19, and Alfred Samuel E Taylor who was 33 years old.