You are here

The Guga Hunt of 1912 - II

The Guga Hunt of 1912 - II

The men of Ness who had set out on the guga hunt of 1912 were reported lost (see Part I), but in the same issue of the Highland News, on 12 September, the following also appeared:

Men Raised From The Dead - Tremendous Sensation

A wire received from our correspondent in the Hebrides states that reports are arriving in Stornoway that the Ness fishermen who had been given up for lost by their friends, were spoken to at Suilis Sgeir by an Aberdeen Trawler. The news has created a tremendous sensation. The men have not yet returned, but when they do arrive they will be received as men raised from the dead.

All Well

The glad tidings were conveyed by Captain Palmer of the steam trawler, Loch Naver. He officially reported that on 24th August he went ashore at Suilis Sgeir, east of the Hebrides, and found the ten Lewis fishermen who have been missing for some time on the Island. The men were engaged in the plucking of the wild birds' feathers, and indicated that they would return home in about a fortnight. All were well. They stated that they had encountered no storm.

Days later, on 14 September, a further article reported their safe return.

Return Of The Ten Ness Fishermen - Great Rejoicings

At midnight on Thursday, a small open boat slipped alongside the breakwater of Port of Ness, Lewis, the ten occupants, all unaware of the sensation their absence had occasioned in the country, or the tremendous relief their coming would bring their friends. On the 12th August they sailed from Ness for the small islet of Suilis Sgeir, thirty-eight miles north of the Butt of Lewis, for the purpose of taking young Solan geese which abound there. They were following out a well-established custom, always attended by some peril. It will be remembered that after their departure they were caught in a gale, and their friends were filled with anxiety as to their safety.

On the 30th August, ex-Provost Anderson, Stornoway, at the request of the people approached Captain Hulbert, commander of the flotilla of destroyers then stationed at Stornoway, and the HMS Phoenix was sent to Suilis Sgeir to ascertain if the men had reached there. The Phoenix returned with the fateful news that she had circled the small islet, but could find no trace of the men or their boat.

At once the whole community of Ness was plunged into mourning. Then came the news that the trawler Loch Naver from Aberdeen, had been at Suilis Sgeir six days prior to the visit of the Phoenix, and that some of the crew landed and had conversed with the men. The effect of this intelligence at Ness was electrical. The joy in the community was indescribable, although all the fear was not dispelled till the men themselves, in the early hours of Thursday morning, lifted the latch of the doors that had remained unlocked for their coming and walked in to receive a welcome that, perhaps, was more effusive than it was heartfelt.

Our Stornoway correspondent visited Ness yesterday, and found the crew at the breakwater dividing the spoils. They had had a most successful trip, their bag comprising 2,200 birds, realised about ?70. Their boat was moored in the inner harbour - a twenty-five foot undecked craft, a mere cockle shell on the Atlantic rollers, but, under skilful management, safe and serviceable. The men looked upon their last venture as quite an ordinary affair. The skipper said they left home at 6.30 pm on Monday, 12th August.

At daybreak, when they were some ten miles from Suilis Geir, the wind veered into the North, blowing strongly and raiding a heavy sea. they were forced to shorten sail and decided it was out of the question to attempt a landing. Making for North Rona they got under lea of the island and easily affected a landing. At no time had they any fears for their own safety. By Thursday afternoon the sea moderated and they put off to Suilis Sgeir. They got to work at once, the birds being ripe for killing.

The men speak in highly appreciative terms of the kindness of the skipper of the Loch Naver, who gave them a supply of fish. Asked about the visit of the Phoenix, they said they had been at work all day on the 30th of August and are surprised they did not see her. They had finished operations on Suilis Sgeir eleven days ago, but until Thursday had not had weather suitable for launching the boat. They set sail for home at noon and arrived, as stated, at midnight.


Title: The Guga Hunt of 1912 - II
Record Type: All Records
Date: September 1912
Record Maintained By: HC
Subject Id: 57375