LET US REMEMBER
At 14.12 hrs on 2nd October 1942, the Ceres Class cruiser and escort vessel HMS Curacoa was rammed and sunk by the RMS Queen Mary off Bloody Foreland on the west coast of Ireland at position 50°50'N. 08°38'W.
The 451 ft long, 4,200 tons HMS Curacoa had been deployed to provide escort duties to the 83,673 ton RMS Queen Mary, which was acting as a Troop Ship to the US Navy and carrying some 10,000 US Troops to take part in the D-Day Landings.
While performing Zig-Zag Manoeuvre No. 8, to avoid U-Boats, the Queen Mary struck HMS Curacoa broadsides, suffering considerable damage to her bow and Curacoa sank in less than ten minutes.
Of HMS Curacoa's crew of 439 souls, only 101 survived. Over twenty bodies were carried north in the tidal streams and washed ashore on the Isle of Eigg, at Oban, Knoydart, Arisaig, Morar and on the Isle of Skye. We are trying to find Graves around the Mainland and Islands.
Due to war restrictions at the time, the Queen Mary was under orders not to stop to search for survivors, lest she present herself as a target, and she limped into Gourock.
The Government at the time slapped a 'D Notice' on reporting the Disaster and thus suppressed any Military or Civilian reporting of the incident, lest it have an impact on the Troops' morale.
The graves at Ashaig Cemetery near Broadford represent those souls who were washed up on the shores around Elgol and who were interred following a Service of Remembrance at Kyleakin.
The remaining Ashaig graves are:
- Anger, Harold: Chief Petty Officer - Telegraphist: C/J 40064
- Barrett, Kenneth R: Ordinary Seaman: C/JX 351451
- Beaton, Peter: Engine Room Artificer 4c: C/MX 76194
- Clark, Patrick F: Able Seaman: C/JX 150309
- Cornell, Percy V: Yeoman of Signals: C/JX 132321
- Cox, Alfred HS: Ordinary Seaman, RDF: P/JX 358298
- Egan, Harold: Able Seaman, RNVR: C/HD/X 4
- Garget, Sydney: Blacksmith 1c: C/MX 45530
- Gozzett, Alfred H: Coder: C/JX 272440
- Hawkins, Henry M: Sick Berth Petty Officer: C/M 37726
- Hooper, James T: Able Seaman, RFR: C/SS 11049
- Moir, William: Stoker Petty Officer: C/KX 77485
- Wells, Frederick J: Able Seaman: C/JX 215290
- Whitelaw, George AN: Ordinary Seaman, RDF: P/JX 248803
There are three graves whose remains are only "Known Unto God"
It is now believed, due to the space between graves, that one was disinterred and removed to Wales for reburial in a Family Plot.
There are three further HMS Curacoa graves in Portree Cemetery:
- Brownsett, Frank (19): Ordinary Seaman, RN: C/JX 316182
- Dean, Harry (19): Able Seaman, RN: P/JX 304317
- Dunning, Royston (18): Ordinary Seaman, RN: P/JX 349472
There are three graves at Pennyfuir Cemetery at Oban, although only one has an identifiable internment:
- Blunt, Lewis F: Leading Stoker: K/51758
There is one grave at the wee Cemetery at Kilchoan on Knoydart.
- Wall, Albert E: CPO Stoker (Pens): C/K 32083
There are five further graves at Arisaig Cemetery near Mallaig.
• Cox, George HC: Chief Ordnance ~ C/M 36713 (Age 37)
• Caldwell, Robert: Able Seaman, RDF ~ P/JX 207935 (Age 27)
• Wilmott, Wilfred J: Act/Ordnance Artificer 4c ~ C/MX 96183 (Age 27)
• Brewer, Alec A: Ordinary Seaman ~ P/JX 349726 (Age 19)
• Gower, Leonard F: Chief Petty Officer Cook ~ C/MX 46136 (Age 35)
We are indebted to all who have forwarded details of graves to us for inclusion here.