Call for wreck site to be protected

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

HMY Iolaire sank on January 1, 1919, after striking rocks two miles from Stornoway where families were waiting to welcome home First World War servicemen.

Eighty-two servicemen survived but more than 200 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.

Next year’s 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.

Dr Allan 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 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 both to 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 react positively to this request.’