1 January 1919 We Lost 372

Image result for HM Yacht Iolaire

Early in the morning, at approximately 01:55, HM Yacht Iolaire (Commander Richard Gordon William Mason, killed at age 44) hits the rocks known as the “Beasts of Holm” at the entrance to Stornoway Harbor, Western Isles Scotland.  All the lights on the ship go out.  One of the passengers, Alexander MacIver, Mate Royal Naval Reserve, who later drowns, finds some distress rockets and fires them to summon assistance.

The rockets light up the sky and Carpenter John Finlay MacLeod Royal Naval Reserve sees the layout of the coast line.  He gives the end of a heavy line to an islander on the deck beside him and tells him not to let go.  He then puts the line around his left hand and locks the end of the rope with his thumb.  He then drops into the sea.  On his first attempt the surge of the waves carries him away from the shore but fortunately he manages to get back to the ship.  With Extraordinary presence of mind in the situation he ascertains that seven smaller waves are followed by three large waves.  He uses this information to swim for a while and then be carried by the larger waves.  Two hundred five lives are lost within 20 yards of land. Among those lost is

  • Seaman Malcolm MacMillan who drowns at age 46. His son Quarter Master Malcolm MacMillan will be lost at sea serving in the Merchant Navy in 1942 at age 41.
  • Seaman Norman MacLeod drowns at age 20. He is the final of four brothers who lose their lives in the Great War.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple families that will lose two, three and four sons to the Great War
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Stanley Nixon (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry attached Royal Air Force) is accidentally killed at age 26. He is the son of James Nixon JP.
  • Gunner G Norfield (Canadian Field Artillery) dies in England at age 28. His brother was killed last September.
  • Sapper Frank Binks (Royal Engineers) dies on Salonika at age 39. His two brothers were killed during the war.