Yesterday, it was 59 years ago since the ship MV Clan Macquarrie ran aground at Borve. All its crew were saved from the vessel thanks to the breeches buoy.
The hurricane force winds that drove the Clan Macquarrie on the rocks at Borve also blew out the window and frame of a house in Barvas, and is rumoured to have demolished the water tank for that village.
The storm brought catastrophic flooding to southern parts of England and southwestern Holland, claiming 300 lives in England and 2000 in Holland. A further 133 lives were lost in the North Channel, when the MV Princess Victoria was sunk, en route from Stranraer to Larne. The total death toll stands at 2554.
My father remembers the night of the stormflood. He lived at Arnhem at the time, and was trying to cross the bridge across the river Rhine in the city. He had to hold on to the railings to make it safely across.
It was low tide at 6pm on Saturday 31st January 1953. The people on the southwestern coast of Holland found the water at the top of the dykes protecting their towns. Six hours later, the 17 foot storm surge slammed through the dykes in dozens of places and proceeded to inundate the islands of the southwest. Film footage from the time shows the nightmare that followed. I refer to this search result of Google for a selection of images. The word watersnoodramp means stormflood disaster, and is the name given to this catastrophe in Holland.