fios, edition 571

Location: Lewis
ships and boats, ww1 and ww2, shipwrecks

The hulk of the SS Eva

In August 1940 the SS Eva was torpedoed about 60 miles east of Rockall. Three crew were injured and one was lost, while seventeen survivors were rescued by lifeboat and landed in Barra. The hulk of the ship grounded at Traigh Chumil in Swainbost sometime the following month.

The thirteen-year-old Donald Thomson heard this news while getting ready for school: "It was my last year in Cross School and I didn't think it was too important if I missed a morning. What a sight it was when I stood at the top of the cliff and saw the great ship Eva on the stem and the Eva Bergen written on the stern. I can't remember how many torpedo holes she had but I could clearly see timber stacked up in the holds. Although it was amazing to see the ship there, it was the sheer volume of timber that was on the shore and in the sea that was almost incredible."

A salvage operation got underway. Local men were asked to bring as much timber as possible onto the machair where it was stacked for transport to Stornoway. A watch was set on the vessel and cargo at night but it was impossible to cover the long shoreline from Dell to Eoropie and much of the 'rescued' timber never made it to the town but was reputedly buried or hidden for subsequent retrieval. The timber lost from the wreck varied in size and type, with logs, large beams and pit props, as well as smaller building lumber. A number of Ness buildings owe their longevity to the quality of the Eva timber.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.