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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 May 2006, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
'Whisky' sailor returns to island
Scene from Whisky Galore
The 1949 classic was inspired by the SS Politican cargo ship
An original crew member from the ship which inspired the film Whisky Galore has returned to the Western Isles after 65 years.

Maurice Watson, who worked as a cadet on the SS Politician, returned to Eriskay to mark his 80th birthday.

The SS Politician ran aground in February 1941 while carrying an estimated 22,000 cases of whisky.

Local fishermen from the island boarded the stricken ship in the dead of night and removed much of its cargo.

The incident inspired the 1947 Compton Mackenzie novel Whisky Galore and the film of the same name in 1949.

Mr Watson, who was only 15 years old when the vessel ran aground, said he had not been aware of the ship's alcoholic cargo until years later when he read the Mackenzie story.

Crates of whisky

Crew members from the SS Politician were travelling to Jamaica when the ship ran aground on the northern side of Eriskay in bad weather.

While the marooned vessel awaited salvage local fishermen boarded the ship and found the crates of whisky.

It is estimated that up to half the cases of whisky eventually found their way ashore - along with other items including silk, perfume, bicycles and toothpaste.

Nineteen islanders were eventually prosecuted for looting whisky and sent to jail for a month.

Hear the former crew member describe what happened

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