American Monument, Mull of Oa, Islay
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
On 5 February 1918 the American troopship Tuscania was en route to the UK, carrying over 2,000 US soldiers, when it was hit by a German torpedo fired by U-boat UB77, 7 miles off the Islay coast. The loss of life was horrific; 200 American soldiers were lost, with 60 British crew either drowned or dashed to death on the jagged rocks. The ship's bell from the Tuscania is on display at the Museum of Islay Life in Port Charlotte.
The police sergeant at Bowmore had the job of recording the bodies and noting any distinguishing marks which might be useful in identifying them. Many of the residents gave what little food and clothing they had to help ease the plight of survivors. A pair of islanders managed to rescue 3 men with the aide of a long broom handle before they were dashed onto the rocks.
Near the base of the monument is the carving of a wreath, with the inscription,
"A Tribute From Woodrow Wilson President Of The United States Of America To The Memory Of His Fellow Citizens Who Gave Their Lives For Their Country In Nearby Waters 1918"
"Sacred to the IMMORTAL MEMORY of those SOLDIERS AND SAILORS Who Gave Their Lives for Their Country in the Wrecks of the Transports 'TUSCANIA' February 5th 1918 and 'ONRANTO' October 6th 1918. This Monument was Erected by THE AMERICAN RED CROSS Near the Spot Where So Many of THE VICTIMS OF THE DISASTERS SLEEP in EVERLASTING PEACE"
Half the enjoyment of visiting the American Monument is getting there. The road to Oa from Port Ellen ends at a parking and picnic area, and footpaths leads across an RSPB nature reserve to the cliffs.
The monument is visible from a long way away, and makes a compelling landmark on the horizon. I've perhaps been unkind about the design of the monument, but it is hard not to get a lump in your throat when you read the poignant inscriptions remembering the dead, and realise the sacrifices made by the islanders to save as many of the sailors as they could. This is a place of pilgrimage, and a place to reflect.
Because Islay is an island the 'nearest accommodation' properties listed below may not be on Islay itself but on the Scottish mainland. The best source we have found for accommodation on the island is Isle of Islay.com, a dedicated local website offering a wonderful mix of local information, history, activities, and accommodation information.
About American Monument, Mull of Oa
Address: Oa, Port Ellen, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Attraction Type: Historic Building
Location: On a footpath from the RSPB Mull of Oa reserve, west of Port Ellen. Open access.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Cragabus Chambered Cairn - 4.3 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Carraig Fhada Lighthouse - 5.2 miles (Historic Building)
Kilbride Standing Stone - 7.8 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Nerabus Chapel and Carved Stones - 8.7 miles (Historic Church)
Dunyvaig Castle - 8.8 miles (Castle)
Cultoon Stone Circle - 10.6 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Museum of Islay Life - 10.6 miles (Museum)
Bowmore Round Church - 11.5 miles (Historic Church)
Nearest Accommodation to American Monument, Mull of Oa:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from American Monument. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.
Nearest Self Catering Cottages
Nearest Bed and Breakfasts
Bowmore (Isle of Islay)
Tourist Information Centre
Isle of Islay
Argyll and Bute
Tel: 01496 810 254