I saw the body of my son

Valtos cemetery

old graveyard, walls, sea in background

Uigen in the Parish of Uig lost two young men in the Iolaire disaster. John MacLeod was 22, Angus Matheson was 19. Both were buried at Valtos (Bhaltos), neighbours in death as in life.

Weeks had went past and the body of young Angus had not turned up. His parents, Malcolm (Càlum Càm) and Katherine Matheson, could not grief like their neighbours could. They had no body to bury. Six weeks after the HMY Iolaire crashed on the Beasts of Holm and took so many lives, Calum got up first thing in the morning and went to Stornoway, to collect his son, he said.

He had had a premonition, a dream, that told him he would find his son and where. Calum went to the Admiralty and told them he had seen the body of his son in a dream, they humored him. It is highly unlikely they believed him but were kind enough to comply with his wishes. Even though it was by now the middle of a February night and he wanted to be taken to Glumlaig Bay opposite the Beasts of Holm.

view from Valtos cemetery


“The night was good, calm; a boat was quickly organized, and they took Càm with them. And there, right in Glumaig Bay in the lea of Arnish Point, and just where the broken father directed, the grapples went down and up came the body of Angus Matheson.” (MacLeod)

Calum Matheson took the body of his young son home and buried Angus in the cemetery of Valtos. He was not the last to be found.


sources and further reading:

John MacLeod: When I Heard The Bell. The Loss of the Iolaire. Edinburgh, Birlinn, 2009, p. 128

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