BASS ROCK A759
Official No: 125476 Port and Year: Leith, 1907 (LH296)
Lowestoft, 1919 (LT646)
Scarborough, 1919 (SH69)
Aberdeen, 1934? (A759)
Description: Steel side trawler; single screw, coal burning. Crabber. Schooner rigged
Built: 1907; Cran & Somerville Shipbuilders, Leith. (Yard no. 61)
Tonnage: 169 grt 67 net.
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 112.3 / 21.6 / 10.9
Engine: C2-Cyl. 54 rhp., by builders (Reported to have been fitted with a tug engine; capable of 13 kts.)
1907: Leith Steam Fishing Co., 22 Leith Walk, Leith.
1919: Stepney Steam Fishing Co., Scarborough.
14 Oct 1919: F. Spashett, Lowestoft
1919: Vectis Steam Fishing Co., Lowestoft,
4 Nov 1921: T. Stephen, Aberdeen
1927: Stephen Fishing Co., 172 Market St., Aberdeen
1930: William H. East & Co., Docks, Milford
Landed at Milford: 9 Jun 1930 - 16 Aug 1940.
Skippers: Alfred Skewis.
Notes: 29 Nov 1911: Ran ashore at Newburgh Aberdeenshire. Refloated later.
Sep 1914: Requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted for minesweeping duties (Admy. No.513)
1919: Returned to owners.
24 Sep 1940: Bombed and sunk by German aircraft off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland
Accidents and Incidents
From a transcription of an article from a local newspaper, c. Oct 1940, in the Les Jones Archive:
Another terrible shock hit Milford when two of Messrs. Yolland and Llewellyn's trawlers brought in five survivors of another local trawler that had been bombed and sunk. The ill-fated trawler belonged to Mr. W. H. East and had fished out of the port for many years.
She was in charge of Mr. Alfred Skewis, 13, Dartmouth Gardens, Milford, fifty years of age and another well known and respected skipper of the port. It was to have been his last voyage before taking up a post ashore. Skipper Skewis was a native of Priory, Milford Haven, and first sailed on the steam trawlers when he was fourteen years of age. By dint of hard work he built up a reputation as a first class fisherman, and in 1923 obtained his skipper's ticket. In his time he had been with most of the trawler firms, but the longest period he spent was in Messrs Jenkerson's boats. During the last War (1914-1918) he served on the naval minesweepers and spent three years out east. To the widow and three daughters the deepest sympathy is extended.
With three others of his crew he lost his life. The other victims are:
Third Hand - J. W. Tobutt, 2,Minden Road, Lowestoft.
Deck Hand - J. Hext, 49,Charles Street, Milford.
Fireman - E. Mills, 12,Coronation Avenue, Haverfordwest.
The men saved are:
Mate - C. Mantripp, Castle Terrace, Milford.
Bosun - F. G. Collyer, Shakespeare Avenue, Milford.
Cook - F. Forster, Prioryville, Milford.
Chief Eng. - T. J. Rees, Hill Crest, Johnston.
Second Eng. - J. Mason, 9,Neyland Vale, Neyland.
Tobutt was married with four children, his wife being in Lowestoft. Hext was a married man and a native of Brixham. He was one of eight brothers, six of whom lost their lives in the last war. His mother was chosen to lay the first wreath on Brixham war memorial. Fireman E. Mills was about thirty years of age. He was a single man and the sole support of his widowed mother.
Two other Milford trawlers belonging to Messrs Yolland and Llewellyn were fishing in the vicinity when the plane, a Dornier, dived out of the sun with engines shut off. The ill-fated trawler was hit twice and when the survivors were trying to launch the ship's life boat, the plane came back and tried to machine-gun them. All spoke highly of the fine efforts of Messrs. Yolland's trawlers to bring the plane down. Skipper Arthur Howie, on one of them, ordered his crew to take shelter, manned the defensive gun (Lewis Machine Gun) himself and fired 160 rounds at the Nazi attackers. The firing by this gun and the gun on the other trawler was stated to have been very effective and it is believed the German plane was hit, for she away almost at water level.
"She was almost level with the mast head before releasing her bombs," said a survivor. "We did not know anything until the bombs dropped."
Messrs. East have sent a letter to Messrs. Yolland and Llewellyn expressing their appreciation of the efforts of the crews of the latter's two trawlers.
Also from the Les Jones Archive:
6th November 1940
Statement by the Mate of the steam trawler "Bass Rock", Mr Cecil Mantripp, I,Castle Terrace, Pill, Milford.
I was Mate of the steam trawler "Bass Rock" of Aberdeen, trading out of the port of Milford Haven and owned by Mr W.H.East of Milford. We left Milford Docks for sea on September 18th, 1940 at seven forty five a.m. bound for the fishing grounds off the Fastnet. We were nine hand all told.
We fished there for three or four days and then steamed back to fish off the Old Head of Kinsale. We had been fishing there for about four hours. I then went down below for some tea and whilst below I heard a big crash. I rushed up to the top of the cabin steps and met the Skipper coming down from the Bridge, and he said to me "Out with the boat, we are being bombed." This would then have been about ten forty a.m. (G.M.T.) or eleven forty a.m. summer time on September the 24th.
The bomb struck the vessel between the winch and the fo'castle. I saw a plane above us and as we were getting out our small boat the plane went and dropped another bomb which seemed to hit the vessel again about the midships. The vessel was sinking rapidly and as we were about our business trying to launch the boat the plane came down very low and machine gunned us. Skipper Skewis was standing close by me as the vessel made her final plunge and we sank in about five minutes or
six. We failed to get our small boat out and we were all thrown into the water, every man for himself. That was the last I saw of Skipper Skewis.
The Milford steam trawlers "Celtia" and "Goosander" were fishing close by us at the time and they were also bombed and machine gunned, but their vessels were not damaged, and they had no casualties. Both these vessels cut their gear and steamed towards where they had last seen the "Bass Rock". The "Goosander" picked up four of our crew, and the "Celtia" picked me up.
Those picked up by the "Goosander" were:
Chief Engineer Rees.
Second Engineer Mason.
Bosun George Collier.
Cook Fred Foster.
We were in the water about half an hour before we were picked up. At the time our vessel sank we were about sixty miles South-East of the Old Head of Kinsale.
The men lost from the "Bass Rock" were:
Skipper Alfred Skewis.
Third Hand John William Tobutt.
Deck Hand John Hext.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 18th January 1946:
In the second part of the New Year's Honours List the names of two Milford fishermen appear. Skipper John Henry Ryan, 23, Stratford Road, who is awarded the O.B.E., and Mr. George Cook, 2, Greville Road, who receives the B.E.M. (Civil Division).
Skipper Ryan served on the "Bass Rock" when it was attacked by German planes. He is at present skipper of the "Braes O' Mar". Mr. Cook was serving on the "Thomas Booth" as a deckhand for the past six years, and was on her when she was repeatedly machine-gunned by German planes.
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