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WW1 & WW2

Eriskay wasn’t exempt from the heartache of losing lives in both World Wars. 

In total, we lost twenty men, three quarters were lost within 6 months of each other, which for a population of 486 at the time would have had a devastating effect on the island.


At the anniversary of the end of WW1, while researching information to create a war memorial (link to War Memorial in Projects) for Eriskay’, we started to look into who their families were and where they lived on Eriskay. These young men who sadly died, from the age of 18 to

found out who those men t

Unfortunately, we don’t have photographs of some of the men therefore we would be very grateful if you could get in touch with Comann Eachdraidh Eirisgeidh if you have photographs or any information.

The Glenmoor Ship


  • John Mac Kinnon (Iagan Chaluim Iain Mhòir)

  • John Mac Dougall (Seonaidh Oighrig)

  • Kenneth Gillies (Coinneach Bàn Dhòmhnaill Nèill)

  • Angus O’Henley (Aonghas Raghnaill Alasdair Dhòmhnaill)

  • Angus Mac Intyre (Aonghas Calum bhig)

  • Angus Johnstone

  • Edward Austin Johnstone (Eadaidh Raghnaill)

  • John Mac Rury

  • Murdoch Mac Isaac (Murchadh Aonghais’ic Stephain)


  • Malcolm Mac Kinnon (Calum Iain Bhig)

  • Donald Mac Innes (Dòmhnall Aonghais Iain 'ic Alasdair) 

  • Alexander Mac Millan (Alasdair Iagain Bhig 'ic Alasdair)

  • Malcolm Mac Kelvie (Calum Uilleim Ceit)  

  • RIO Michael Mac Lellan (Micheal Ailean Chaluim)

  • Donald John Mac Innes (Dòmhnaill Iain, Dhòmhnaill Iain a' Bhodaich).

  • Angus Mac Innes (Aonghas Dhòmhnaill 'ic Dhonnchaidh)

  • Donald Mac Isaac

  • Allan Mac Intyre (Ailean Chaluim Bhig)

  • Donald Campbell (Dòmhnall Aonghais Nèill)

  • Donald Mac Askill (Dòmhnall Aoidh 'ic Asgaill)

Do You Have Any Information From Relatives We Can Add?

The CEE would like to add further information to each of the fallen so please get in touch if you have anything to share.

Private Angus Johnstone

(Aonghas Raighnall)

Angus lived in Haun and was the son of Ronald Johnstone (Eriskay) and Mary MacNeil (Mingulay).

He was a Driver with the 207th Coy Machine Corps (Infantry) and died on 26th December 1918 aged only 22 years old. His remains were interred in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetry.

He is remembered with honour on the South Uist War Memorial as well as being remembered on his parents headstone in the old graveyard in Eriskay. He is also on the Eriskay War Memorial which is also in the old graveyard in Eriskay.

WW1 – Edward Austin Johnstone (Eadaidh Raghnaill)

Eadaidh lived in Haun with his parents Ronald Johnstone (Eriskay) and Mary Mac Neil (Mingulay).

He was 3rd Mate on the SS Cabotia and was drowned as a result of an attack by the enemy submarine SMS U-69 on 20th October 1916 at only 21 years of age.

He is remembered with honour on the Tower Hill Memorial Panel, the South Uist War Memorial and on the Eriskay War Memorial. He is also remembered on his parent’s gravestone in the old graveyard in Eriskay. Sadly, his brother Angus Johnstone died two years later in Baghdad (he is mentioned in a previous post).

Quite sad when you see how happy he looks in the photograph. Eadaidh is at the front in the drivers seat in the photograph.

This is the tragic story of the last hours of the SS Cabotia as given to us by the family of Eadaidh.

"In 1913 the Ontarian was sold to the Donaldson Line and renamed Cabotia, her final voyage began on Oct. 9 when she left Montreal bound for Manchester, she was loaded with 5,000 tons of cargo and 300 horses. Shortly after leaving Canada the ship sailed into a south-west gale, which lasted the whole voyage. The ship plodded along in the heavy seas day after day, the sea was rough, waves breaking over the decks, the ship constantly rolling, just a terrible voyage for man and beast.


John Mitchell, the master, kept the ship on a zig-zag course and at noon on October 20, 1916 they were about 150 miles from Ireland. At 12:20 p.m. in the tremendous seas the silhouette of a submarine was sighted three miles off the starboard bow, the lookouts had done their job. Mitchell ordered all hands on deck and began to take evasive action. He turned his ship away from the enemy putting the submarine at his stern, trying to make a run for it and giving the smallest target to the German.

The submarine, SMS U-69, fired several shells from her deck gun, but the U-boat's commander, Kapitänleutnant Ernst Wilhelms, had no intention of allowing his prey to escape from him. Shells from the U-boat began to fall, but only every few minutes, this was apparently the best the gun crew could do as the seas were running so high that one of the survivors from the Cabotia said the gunner was awash up to his neck when the waves washed over the boat. Cabotia could not outrun U-69 which could make almost 17 knots while the Cabotia's top speed was 12 knots, neither was running at top speed on this day, but the men deep in the Cabotia remained in the engine room giving Mitchell all the steam he could use.

For over an hour and a half the Cabotia tried to escape and U-69 continued to close the distance, the gunner, despite the sea, scored a hit on the Cabotia and Mitchell realized that his ship could not escape, and now that the German had the range and landed several more hits, Mitchell decided that he would abandon his ship. He had the boats swung out, but this was a difficult decision, the gale was still blowing and the chance of survival in small boats in such conditions was slim, but this was the only chance they had. Distress signals that had been continuously been sent since the attack began received no answer until 2 p.m., which must have given Mitchell some small comfort.

Soon after this U-69 was very close and a shot was fired through the funnel, after which Mitchell shut down the engines and signalled to the submarine that he was abandoning the ship, he also tossed his papers over the side, four boats got away with no casualties, which in itself is amazing. (Boats No1 and No2 were in the charge of the master and third mate respectively.) The heavy sea made staying together impossible and the boats were scattered almost immediately, one of them was approached by the submarine and there was some kind of conversation between the lifeboat and the Germans, what was said is unknown. After they parted Wilhelms put 12 shells into the Cabotia and half an hour later she went under.

All seventy-four survivors must have seen the steamer that came into the area and they must have been relieved to think that they would soon be picked up and saved from almost certain death, but this was not to be. The unidentified ship which was flying neutral colours, stopped and U-69 came alongside. At least two of the lifeboats were within a couple hundred yards and were signalling with everything they had, but nobody on the ship noticed them or they just ignored them. The reason the ship failed to respond to the distress signals is unknown, it is speculated that Wilhelms told her master that if he picked up the survivors that his ship would be sunk, it is also possible that the ship was actually a German ship disguised as a neutral ship, the truth is not known, but the ship did salute the U-boat with a blow from her whistle before she left.

Four hours after Cabotia was sunk the situation with the weather got worse, not only heavy winds and seas, but now the rain came. The survivors in the four scattered boats fought to stay alive and at 9 a.m. the next morning a patrol boat was sighted and the survivors from one of the boats were rescued. Being told of what had happened, a search was begun and shortly thereafter a second boat was found. Hours went by and the search continued, but the two remaining boats (No1 and 2) and the thirty-two men in them were never found.

The identity of the mystery ship which did not respond to the distress signals of the survivors, to the best of my knowledge was never learned, neither was the content of the conversation between the ship and the U-boat, Wilhelms made no statements after the war because he and U-69 went missing in July of 1917. He had sent over 100,000 tons of shipping to the bottom, and somewhere, perhaps in the Irish Sea, Wilhelms and U-69 have joined them."

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