A procession from the Old Parish Church at Kilchoman to CWGC Kilchoman Military Cemetery followed the same route as the funeral cortege for the US and British dead of the Otranto 100 years ago (Photo © Ben Shakespeare Photography/WW100 Scotland)

Islay marks centenary of HMS Otranto tragedy

Posted on centenarynews.com on 06 October 2018
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The sinking of a First World War troopship carrying American soldiers to Europe has been remembered on the Hebridean island of Islay.

Descendants of the US troops and British crewmen lost on HMS Otranto joined islanders for a centenary day of commemoration on October 6.

A service of remembrance was held at Kilchoman CWGC Cemetery, where the dead were initially laid to rest.

Otranto sank on 6 October 1918 after colliding with another troopship, HMS Kashmir, in a severe storm off the west coast of Islay.

Around 500 men died in the tragedy, which came just months after more than 200 lives were lost - again many of them American - when SS Tuscania was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the waters between Islay and Northern Ireland.

The US casualties of the Otranto disaster were later reinterred at American cemeteries. But many of the British crewmen still rest at Kilchoman Cemetery, among them the ship’s captain, Ernest Davidson.

Capt Davidson’s grandson, Nick Hide, paid tribute to the people of Islay who, a century ago, went to the aid of survivors and recovered the dead.

He said: "When you think what these Islay families went through having to bring those bodies ashore and bury them with dignity – it didn’t just happen over one day, but went on for weeks. It’s an amazing story and that’s what I think is remarkable about Islay."

Also in Centenary News:

Navies in combined tribute to 'Tuscania' & 'Otranto' off Islay, May 2018.

Source: WW100 Scotland

Images: © Ben Shakespeare Photography/WW100 Scotland

Posted by: CN Editorial Team