A 100-year-old islander has revealed he was one of the men who smuggled scotch from the wreck of the Whisky Galore! ship the SS Politician. Willie Macleod, from Lewis, was part of the salvage team when the cargo ship, packed full of whisky, ran aground close to the Hebridean island of Eriskay in 1941.
The story was turned into a film twice, in 1949 and 2016. After waiting more than 60 years to tell the story, Willie also revealed just how close he got to being caught. He said 15 years later, he had a house party at a home in Stornoway and got talking to one of the guests.
You are reading: Scots islander, 100, reveals he smuggled scotch from Whisky Galore wreck SS Politician
Willie said: “[The man said] ‘I was a sergeant of police in Lochmaddy’. ‘Oh well’ I said, ‘you must have been there during the Politician’. And he said, ‘we got word that the people on the Politician were coming ashore with whisky and I was sent to watch the gangway and I didn’t see anyone going on board with anything… and I was up on the bridge along with Captain Robertson when this fellow came with a briefcase on his shoulder over the gangway and I said to Robertson, “That looks like the fella I’m after, let’s just see how far he’ll go with the case”.
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“’But Robertson said, “Come on down and have a dram with me and forget about it”. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘the person who went ashore with that case was myself’. He shook my hands and said, ‘I often wondered who it was’.” He added: “In my own living room 15 years later, the other half of the story came. Wasn’t that remarkable?”
Speaking on BBC Alba show Trusadh – Na Ceudanaich/Centenarians, Willie told of his one brush with Customs officials. Willie said: “I’d gathered for me about 12 or 14 bottles of whisky. I had them in a case under the bed and I was onboard the Politician when a launch came past and this was the Customs. I thought ‘that’s my whisky gone’, but no.
“It was one fellow who had 25 cases of whisky anchored to his boat and he was drunk all the time and his wife got in touch with the Customs and they went to it and picked up all the cases of whisky that were on the anchor.”
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