The Wreck of the SS William H Welch

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As I walk along the shores of Camas an Aiseig and Black Bay in this remote corner of Wester Ross, it is a calm day, and the seas are benign and restful on the eye, with seagulls hanging in the sky, barely moving as they hover in the breeze. At such a time it is hard to imagine he wild winter storm, driving snow and tumultuous seas, smashing ship and men against rocks with equally savage ferocity.

There are times in the lives of men when outstanding acts of heroism and selfless acts could almost be expected from a country's armed forces, its rescue services and its police force, to name but a few. Then there are times when a totally unexpected event occurs, and ordinary people rise, unasked, to perform extraordinary deeds.

Saturday 26 February 1944 was such a time, when, during one of the worst winter storms that anyone can remember, a Liberty ship ran aground just off the wild rugged shores of the North West Highlands of Scotland.

Out of a crew of 72 and two passengers, only 12 souls survived. This is their story, and is dedicated to the memory of those who died, with thanks for the twelve who survived, and written also with thanks to those selfless local crofters, to the light house keepers, to the armed forces, and to all others, who rose immediately to the occasion, for without their actions,there would have been no survivors.

As usual with research of this nature, we ae left with many unanswered questions, and whilst I have tried y best to piece together and corroborate facts, errors will inevitably still exist. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone with information or constructive criticism, so that in future editions we may create a more complete and accurate account of this tragic event.

Author: Steve Chadwick

Publisher: Wilderness Guides, 2012

18 pages