Scots Roots


Commonwealth War Graves – Ashaig Cemetery, Isle of Skye


Ashaig CemeteryThe Cunard White Star liner RMS Queen Mary left New York in September 1942 carrying 10,000 troops bound for the Firth of Clyde in Scotland.

On 2 October 1942, near the north west coast of Ireland she was joined by the escort ship HMS Curacoa, a 4,000 ton British light cruiser, for the final part of the journey to the Clyde. To make themselves less of a target for torpedoes from U-boats, both ships zig-zagged through the water. However, this course of action brought the two ships perilously close to each other.

Each captain thought the other was bound to take evasive action. Neither did.Ashaig Cemetery

The Queen Mary was huge compared to the Curacoa and ploughed straight through the middle of the smaller vessel, cutting it in two. The Curacoa sank within minutes along with most of its crew. The Queen Mary carried on to Gourock with some damage to its bow. Wartime regulations meant that she was not permitted to stop to help any survivors from the Curacoa because she would then have been vulnerable to U-boat attack.

Of the 440 crew of the Curacoa, 100 men survived . Most of the rest went down with the ship but in the following weeks bodies were washed up on various shores around the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. Around 20 of these seamen were washed up on Elgol and Sleat on the Isle of Skye and were buried at Ashaig Cemetery near Broadford.

The wreck of the Curacoa, lying off the north west coast of Ireland, remains a war grave to this day.

Ashaig Cemetery

 

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1 Comment so far
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My father made one of those crossings during the war. I do not know what ship, perhaps on the Queen Mary.

Comment by chmjr2




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