HMY Iolaire site to get official war grave protection

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Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has warmly welcomed the news that the final resting place of the HMY Iolaire is to be recognised as an official war grave by the Ministry of Defence.

This comes after a long campaign led by the comhairle, with support from the community and the local MSP, Alasdair Allan, to have the site recognised and protected as an official war grave.

The site will now be protected under delegation of the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 from September 2, after the signing of a statutory instrument to being the designation to law.

Norman A Macdonald, chairman of the Iolaire Working Group, commented: ‘The comhairle warmly welcomes this news. We wrote to the Ministry of Defence in April of last year asking it to consider a designation of the site as an official war grave on the basis that all these men served their country and were on their way home, having done their part to secure the freedom of the nation.

‘The comhairle felt that the designation would allow those who perished to rest in peace, and bring comfort to the many families that lost loved ones.’

The HMY Iolaire, which sank on January 1, 1919, claimed the lives of 201 servicemen when it sank just yards off the shore of the Western Isles. Around a third of the bodies were never recovered.