It was a cold and cloudy morning in the beginning of October 1942. Few men had remained in the village of Lower Breakish. The war wore heavy on the people of Skye. They did not know what waited for them at the beaches of the island. They did not know, what they would soon have to face.
Warships were everywhere in the waters off the island, transport vessels carried troops to their destinations. The Allied Forces prepared for the D-Day Landings.
RMS Queen Mary transported 15.000 Anmerican troops to the U.K.. She and her escort vessel HMS Curacoa had reached the west coast of Ireland. The clouds were hanging low.
Suddenly, around midday, the two ships collided. RMS Queen Mary rammed the smaller vessel and virtually sliced it in two halves, it sank quickly.
Decription of an eyewitness: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/28/a4146428.shtml
The Queen Mary had orders not to stop and help. Left behind in the cold and relentless sea, most of the soldiers drowned. The Government put a communication ban on the disaster, not to affect the moral of the troops.
The bodies of HMS Curacoa washed ashore in Ireland, the Isle of Eigg, Oban, Knoydart and the Isle of Skye.
Only 101 of the 439 strong crew survived the disaster. They were picked up by other ships.
The people of Skye buried 17 bodies in the graveyard of Ashaig. Three could never be identified.
The headstones of their final resting place look away from where they drowned.
Most of the others in the graveyard face the sea.
Liked the read? There’s more here...
Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years.
Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.
Scotland for Quiet Moments is available as ebook and paperback on Amazon.
That’s so touching that their headstones face away from the sea! It’s such a subtle thing that I’m glad you noticed it.
Yes, I felt the same. The things a grave can tell you when you take the time to actually “see” it.
Lovely post, I found it researching one of my own I’m writing about the holy well beside this graveyard!
Thanks, I never knew there was a holy well there. I will check your blog to find out more about it.
I have often wondered if my uncle Robert Delamaine was amongst the those that were washed up and subsequently given a christian burial.
If he was, he rests in a truly beautiful place.
You could try the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. My uncle was aboard the Curacoa and they located his grave near Arisaig, near Fort William.