Prince Charles in Lewis 01012019 CREDIT PA (Use only in relation to the Iolaire).

HMY Iolaire: Ship Wreck To Become Official Military War Grave

The vessel was bringing men home from World War One to the Western Isles when she struck rocks near the shore and sank on January 1 1919.

Prince Charles in Lewis 01012019 CREDIT PA (Use only in relation to the Iolaire).

Prince Charles laid a wreath during a commemoration ceremony in Stornoway at the beginning of the year to mark 100 years since the Iolaire's sinking (Picture: PA).

A ship which sank off the Isle of Lewis while returning servicemen from the First World War is to finally be recognised as a war grave.

Only 82 of the 283 passengers on board the HMY Iolaire are believed to have survived when it smashed into rocks off Stornoway during the early hours of January 1, 1919.

Western Isles Council has long campaigned for the war graves designation, and it will now come into effect on September 2.

Norman A Macdonald, council convener and chairman of the Iolaire Working Group, welcomed the news.

He said: "We wrote to the Ministry of Defence in April of last year asking them to consider a designation of the site as an official war grave on the basis that all these men served their country and were on their way home, having done their part to secure the freedom of the nation."

The men on board had been returning home to Lewis, Harris and Berneray having survived the First World War.

On January 1 this year, a special commemoration ceremony was held at the Iolaire Memorial with the Duke of Rothesay, as Prince Charles is known in Scotland, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in attendance to mark 100 years since the sinking.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said on Friday: "We can confirm that the site of HMY Iolaire will officially be recognised as a military war grave on September 2, 2019.

"This means the wreckage will be protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986."