Tiree Welcomes HMS Sturdy Families

HMS sturdy ceremony

The sound of the waves, driven by the storm of the night before, onto the gravel beach in Sandaig mingled with the playing of the Tiree Pipe Band. We gathered around the new memorial to HMS Sturdy as the rising wind showed us a glimpse of the fury felt by the sailors seventy years before.

HMS Sturdy ceremony

The service, led by the Revds Peter Williams and Bruce Neill, was attended by around eighty people – three families of the crew (one had come from New South Wales to be there) alongside families from the township who had done so much to look after the exhausted men, representatives from the coastguard and Commodore Charles Stevenson who was representing the Royal Navy.

A special wreath was laid at the cairn to honour the work of Captain Donald ‘Dan’ Sinclair, Greenhill, who had instructed the crew to wait on board until low tide and had saved many lives as a result.

After the service we left to go to Soroby graveyard where we laid wreaths on the graves of the five sailors who drowned that day, as well as honouring the dead of the air forces who are also buried there. Tea was provided at An Talla and this gave a welcome chance to get out of the weather and swap stories about the Sturdy. There was also a huge display of items from the war from the collection of Mike Hughes.

At night Mike gave an illustrated talk on the impact of the war on the Hebrides, bringing his usual passion to the subject, and some stories. Apparently potatoes from the Sturdy stores have been grown in Middleton until recently. The families who had come for the event left the island full of memories, both happy and sad. Then Monday saw a huge storm batter the island, giving a taste of what it must have been like on that fateful day.

Thank you to everyone who supported the weekend, which had been initiated by Mike Gibson and organised locally by An Iodhlann.

2 comments

  • Kathleen Rivett

    Many years ago we took my father in law to Tiree to visit his brother’s grave, his loss was always with him and a cross always placed on the war memorial at Kettering every year. Following the death of my father in law last October it has now fallen to us to remember Uncle John. His name is on the war memorial where a poppy will be placed again this year.

    Our visit to Tiree solved a family mystery as very little was known about how John died and indeed where he was buried, it was comforting to meet the man who found his body and to know he was treated with respect.

    May we now thank the people of Tiree for their own memorial which we hope to visit in the future.

    Trevor and Kathleen Rivett

  • I was aboard HMS Sturdy whet she ran aground on Tiree ,(120 mile Off Course I believe!) the memory is still vivid . I have often wondered what the burial placxe of those lost was like on Tiree?. The people of Tiree have supplied the answer.IIt was nice
    Thanks. L. Gould.

    The first Islander we spoke to spoke Gaelic, we thought it might be Southern Ireland ! !

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