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Wreck of the 'Puritan'

Wreck of the 'Puritan'

On 15th November 1920, a Danish motor smack, the Puritan, was wrecked off the island of Hermetray in the Sound of Harris. The Puritan had been carrying a cargo of salt to the Faroe Islands and during an exceptional gale had been driven onto the uninhabited island. From a crew of eight there were only two survivors who stayed on the exposed island for two days until discovered by Alexander MacDonald (Alick Beag) and his crew, who had been creel-fishing in the Sound. 

The two men, who didn't understand a word that was said to them, were taken to Berneray, spending that night in Alick's home. Alick sent a telegram from the local Post Office, which at that time was at Baybank:

Wreck found off Hermetray by Alick Beag MacDonald. Two passengers on board. One apple only.

The following day the survivors were ferried across to Newtonferry, by car to Lochmaddy and onward to Mallaig and Glasgow. For the next few weeks, islanders were to find toys, whether for the sailors’ children or part of the cargo, scattered on the shoreline. 

A year later the King of Denmark awarded £50 to the fishermen Alick MacDonald, Norman MacLeod, Alexander MacDonald and Archie Paterson, in recognition of their services in the rescue.

Archie Paterson, who was only 20 years old at the time, later recalled the events in a sound recording available on the Tobar an Dualchais website. Another islander, Duncan MacLeod, also 

The incident features in Ò​ran a' Phiuratain, published in the book Òrain Eachainn MhicFhionghain. Another islander, Duncan MacLeod made a recording of Hector's song in 1969 for the School of Scottish Studies.



Title: Wreck of the 'Puritan'
Record Type: Historical Events
Date: 15-11-1920
Record Maintained By: CEBH
Subject Id: 77665