CHARMOUTH BL17 / M 242
Official No: 127082 Port Number and Year: - in Bristol 1910. (BL14)
- in Aberdeen, 1935 (A381)
7th in Milford, 1937
Description: Steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Pareja (pair) fishing (1937 >). Ketch rigged: mizzen
Crew: 9 men
Registered at Milford: 20 Nov 1937
Built: 1910 by John Duthie Torry Ship Building, Aberdeen. (Yard no. 342)
Tonnage: 195.37 grt 73.52 net.
Length / breadth / depth (feet):110.25 / 21.1 / 11.5
Engine: T 3-Cyl. 68 hp.10 kts. Engine: 1910, by W.V.V. Lidgerwood, Coatbridge, Glasgow.
1910: Western Steam Trawling, Docks, Milford.
Manager: Sydney M. Price
Sep 1919: Swansea Steam Trawling, Docks, Swansea.
Manager: Harry Eastoe Rees, 14 Mirador Cres., Swansea 1933: Harry Eastoe Rees, Milford)
1935: W. Gove, Aberdeen.
20 Apr 1937: Pair Fishing Co. (64/64)
Garth Armitage Ledgard, 18 Essex St., Strand, London
Managers: 15 Nov 1937 - John Charles Llewellin, 11 Priory Rd., Milford.
8 Jun 1938: Henry James Horwood, 297 Pickhurst Lane, West Wickham, Kent.
26 Feb 1941: Henry James Richards [?], 26 Croft Gardens, Ruislip. (Later - 'Sealyham House', Dale Rd., Haverfordwest)
3 Apr 1943: William Wilcox, Docks, Milford
9 May 1946: Pair Fishing Co., Docks, Milford
Manager: H. J. Richards
Landed at Milford: As BL14: 16 Aug 1910 - 4 Aug 1914; 5 Mar 1919 - 21 Oct 1935
As M242: 17 Sep 1937 - 4 May 1946.
Skippers: J.Mengel (1940)
Notes: Aug 1914: Requisitioned and converted to a minesweeper (Ad.No.366). 1 x 6 pdr. AA
1919: Returned to owners.
27 Nov 1940: Damaged by German aircraft off Milford Haven
Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 23 Dec 1946. Lost off Ballycotton, believed by German mine, 14 Nov 1946. (See newspaper reports below.)
Accidents and Incidents
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 18th June 1919:
Some excitement was manifested on the Milford Docks during last week when it became known that Messrs. Sellick, Morley and Price were disposing of their fleet of steam trawlers. For a considerable time negotiations had been proceeding with the Consolidation Company of Grimsby, but these recently fell through. It is gratifying to know that the greater portion of the fleet has been retained for the port, as will be seen from the following list. Several local gentlemen having come forward, the competition was very keen.
The Alnmouth, Weigelia, and Exmouth have been sold to Fleetwood firms, while the Charmouth, Macaw, Tacsonia, Rosa, Xylopia, Essex, Uhdea, Petunia, Lynmouth, Kalmia, Portsmouth, Weymouth, Syringa, Yarmouth and Magnolia have all found local buyers.
This opens out the question of the need for local trades people and others to invest in the staple industry of this fishing port, as has been done in competing fishing centres.
From an unknown local newspaper c. 28th October 1937:
Another pair of locally owned trawlers put to sea on Tuesday night's tide. They were the s.t. Rattray and the s.t. Charmouth, recently purchased by the Don Fishing Company from Fleetwood and Aberdeen, and reconditioned and adapted for the Spanish "Pareja" method of fishing.
This enterprising firm has purchased four more of this class of trawlers from Fleetwood, viz., s.t Aberdeen, s.t. Zania, s.t. Ilfracombe and the s.t Scarborough, two of which have arrived in Milford Docks to be fitted out.
This makes five pairs of boats under the management of Yolland and Llewellyn.
From ADM199/76 (p.576): Admiralty: War History Cases and Papers, Second World War (courtesy of Roger Hollywood):
The 'pareja' trawlers "Charmouth" M.242 and the "Rattray" M.246, were fishing in latitude 53º 30' N., longitude 12º 04' W., at [2?].30 G.M.T. on the 27th November. The wind was blowing freshly from the N.N.W., visibility was good.
A large black aeroplane, of a type of which the skippers could not identify, approached from the North and then circled to track the 2 ships. Two delayed action bombs (with about a 4 -sec. delay) were dropped on the "Charmouth", both of which missed, and the "Charmouth" and the"Rattray" were repeatedly attacked in turn with machine-gun and cannon fire.
An interesting point is that the cannon was apparently [pla?]ced in the rear of the aeroplane.
Both the ships fought vigorously with their machine-guns, firing several hundred rounds between them, and when the aeroplane finally left, black smoke was coming from her.
There was no damage apart from bullet and shell-holes to either ship, and only one slight cut on the finger received by one of the crew.
The most attacked ship, the "Charmouth", chopped her [...] of the warp, but the "Rattray" did not, and therefore no gear [was] lost.
The skippers and owners have especially asked me to [comm]end the machine-gunners of these 2 ships for putting up a splendid performance. The German was never allowed to come very [close?], and it is practically certain that she was hit many times.
December 2nd, 1940
The following item appeared in the "Daily Express" on Nov.30th:-
"Five Nazi airmen have been rescued from an uninhabited island off the coast of Kerry, south-west Eire, after being marooned there for 2 days, it was learned last night. Their bomber crashed about six miles off the Blasket Islands. In rubber boats they reached a rocky islet, and lived on their iron rations until people on the main island (which has a population of 160) saw their distress signals. Now the Nazis are interned. "
[The Blaskets are approximately 60 nautical miles SE of the position given by the trawlers.]
From ADM199/76 (p.571): Admiralty: War History Cases and Papers, Second World War (courtesy of Roger Hollywood):
PAIR FISHING COMPANY LIMITED
TRAWLER OWNERS & MANAGERS
Please reply to
20th January, 1941
We have to thank you for your favour of the 15th inst; Ref. No.TD/DEMS/729; and are very pleased indeed to learn that two of our trawlers have been credited with bringing down an enemy plane.
The names and addresses of the men concerned are:-
Skipper:- C. Cornish, Gunner. J.P.Luca,
"Devonia" c/o Mrs.Evans
Wellington Road, The Drang,
Milford Haven Robert St.
Skipper. J.Mengel Gunner. C. Dyer,
c/o Mrs.Owens, Priory Road,
"Glebelands" MILFORD HAVEN
We trust this information will meet your requirements.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 7th March 1941:
The news broadcast by the B.B.C. last weekend, that two British trawlers had downed a German plane that attacked them, has given added zest to the men who man our fishing boats in defiance of all dangers.
To the brief wireless newsflash may be added the fact that the Lewis gunner on the steam trawler Charmouth was 18 year old Charlie Dyer, or "Dare Devil Dyer" as his friends call him. He will not be 19 until May next, and immediately volunteered to man the gun. He comes of Lowestoft stock, his father being a trawler skipper, Mr. C. W. Dyer. He has one brother in the Navy.
The other gunner on the steam trawler Rattray was a Belgian, Julien Prosper Luca. Luca has finished with the sea, having volunteered for the R.A.F. "I want to get up a bit closer to those Jerries, and then - pouf!" he declares.
The reports of the skippers of both trawlers coincide in brevity and modesty. Neither claims the plane, although the Admiralty stated that it was later confirmed that a plane which crashed had fallen to the guns of the Charmouth and Rattray.
Skipper C. K. Cornish (Rattray) reported, "We were fishing, when suddenly we saw a large aeroplane flying towards us from a northerly direction. The plane turned out to be a German, and started machine-gunning us. Our sister ship, the Charmouth, was also attacked and bombed, and had to cut away her gear. The plane did slight damage to my vessel, but hit no-one, and after about three quarters of an hour flew away. During this time we kept him under fire from our Lewis machine gun."
Skipper J. Mengel, (Charmouth) wrote, "We suddenly saw a plane, which turned out to be German. It was a black machine with twin rudders. It opened fire with machine guns and small cannon, and dropped two bombs. The only casualty was a slight injury by a machine gun bullet to one of the men. We had to cut the warp to make for safety, and after about three quarters of an hour, the plane flew off."
One of the crew in an interview said that the bombs narrowly missed the Charmouth, and that black smoke was coming from the raider as she made off.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 15th February 1946:
As a direct sequel to the dispute between the Skippers and Mates Section of the T.&G.W.U and the owners of pair fishing trawlers over the employment of Spanish Fishing Masters, the Spanish method of pareja-fishing has ceased at Milford.
The "Charmouth" and "Grackle" have already been converted to fish solo, while the "Trumpeter" and "Shama", the other boats belonging to the Pair Fishing Co., will be converted later this month. The Don Trawler Company's "Tanager" and "Grosbeak" are also coming in for alterations pending their return to fishing singly.
It will be remembered that the skippers and mates claimed that demobilised local skippers should be put in as masters instead of the Spanish uncertificated fishermen holding the berths, one on each trawler in addition to a normal skipper. The owners claimed that the Spaniards were indispensable, and that if the Union persisted, they would either move their boats to another port, or convert them to fish singly. There was a deadlock for a few weeks, and as the skippers and mates were adamant, the trawlers are being converted, but will not leave the port.
Taking another step in their new policy of fishing with single boats, the Pair Fishing Company has purchased the Castle boat "John Lister" from the Iago Trawling Company of Fleetwood, with which Capt. E. D. W. Lawford is associated. She will be at Milford early next month, and Skipper Reggie High will be in charge of her.
The "Charmouth" has been taken out on her first solo trip by Skipper Jack Garnham.
The Times, Friday, Nov 15, 1946; pg. 2; Issue 50609; col C
News in Brief :
trawler sunk by mine
Nine members of the Milford Haven steam trawler Charmouth were killed when a mine became entangled in the nets of the vessel and exploded about 20 miles off Ballycotton, Co.Cork, at 5 o'clock yesterday.
The Times, Saturday, Nov 16, 1946; pg. 2; Issue 50610; col C
News in Brief
five survivors from sunk trawler
There were five survivors when, as reported in the later editions of The Times yesterday, nine members of the crew were killed in the sinking of the 195-ton British trawler Charmouth within half a minute of a mine explosion 20 miles off the County Cork coast on Thursday. The mine was caught in the trawler's net which was being hauled in when the explosion blew a big hole in the side of the vessel. Four other trawlers fishing nearby picked up the survivors from the water.
From the West Wales Guardian, of Friday 22nd November 1946, supplied by Mr. Bill Chislett:
"CHARMOUTH" SURVIVORS TELL THEIR STORIES
ENGINEER'S LAST BRAVE WORDS
The final plunge of the Milford trawler "Charmouth" was graphically described by the survivors when they arrived at Milford from Fishguard on Saturday morning. All paid heartfelt tribute to the fine seamanship of the Skippers of the rescuing trawlers and spoke in quiet admiration of the Chief Engineer (Mr. W. J. Boast) who chose death rather than bring added risk to his shipmates struggling in the icy water.
First news of the tragedy was conveyed personally to the homes of the bereaved by Mr H. J. Richards, Managing Director of the Pair Fishing Co., early on Friday morning.
But many relatives had retired to bed on the night of the tragedy with a premonition that something was wrong. At the home of Skipper Teddy Dyble, where the "Charmouth" had been heard on the wireless nightly since her departure, there was worry because no sound had been heard from her during the evening. At Skipper Reid's house, wirelessed birthday greetings were expected. They never came....
Milford last week-end was a town in mourning. With all the terrors of the deep, tragedy is never far away from the homes of our gallant fishermen and once again it is a war-time menace that has cut down many fine lives.
Look at Dyble and Scrivens, friends from childhood, playing together - now dying together.
Poignancy is added by the circumstances of the death of a familiar figure in Chief Engineer Boast. At 65, he cheerfully faced all the dangers of war, always had a joke for his shipmates, and when struggling for his life, this gallant gentleman told his friends to leave him and save themselves. Men have died throughout the ages to save others; here again was a man who would willingly lay down his life that others younger than himself might live. His body was conveyed home on Saturday by the Milford trawler Alexander Scott, and was laid to rest in Milford Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon.
The fifth survivor, Robert Norton, was detained in Cork Hospital, but in a letter on Thursday he wrote that he was improving rapidly and hoped to be out soon.
"I WAS ABOUT ALL IN"
Interviewed on Saturday morning, shortly after their arrival from Ireland, the survivors had graphic stories to tell.
"I was just about all in when I was picked up", said the youngest of them, 21 year old learner-deckhand Edward Jones, Swansea, blown up on his first trip. He owed his life, he added, to the masterly seamanship of the Skipper of the S.T. "Sutherness", Captain J.Binham, Yorke Street, and to the fact that he (Jones) was unable to get rid of his yellow oilskins. Many fishermen have been dragged to a watery grave by their sea gear, but not so Jones, whose bright yellow sou-wester was spotted in the 18-feet seas as he clung to a grating. He had not slept for nearly 72 hours when our reporter saw him, but appeared little the worse for his grim experience.
"We were hauling in the nets at 4.35 on Thursday when it happened," Jones stated. "No one saw the mine before it hit the ship. I was flung against the port warp and I was then washed by a sea back into the starboard scuppers.
I picked myself up and could see Teddy Scriven up forward crying for help. I tried to go forward to help him - he was under the fore-gallows on the port side. I got about half way but the seas washed me back.
The boat was going down then. I grabbed hold of the bridge rail and then caught hold of the steam whistle on top of the wheelhouse, when the deck sank under my feet and the bridge seemed to slide down past me. The trawler sank in about 30 seconds and after the explosion when swimming around I saw the Mate, Olney, swimming between me and the life boat, but he was not seen after that. There was one member of the crew on top of the life boat, but I failed to reach that, hampered by my sea boots and heavy clothing, so I caught hold of a grating until I was picked up by the "Sutherness", 1¼ hours after the "Charmouth" had sunk.
"The Skippers of the Slebech and the Sutherness did marvellous work in getting us out of the water,"Jones declared with feeling.
When asked if he would sail again, Jones replied, "I told the Skipper three days out that I did not like fishing. The mines do not scare me. I want to forget it all now and thank God that I am alive."
BLOWN ON TO WINCH
Shock-headed, thick set, Alfred Wray, 5, Lingdale, Bilton Grange Estate, Hull, also added his tribute to the seamanship of Skipper William Cherrington, Waterloo Road, as well as to the Masters of the "Sutherness" and "Tenby Castle". "In the heavy seas their propellers were in danger of cutting the lifeboat in two, but the 'Slebech' was brought round by wonderful seamanship and we were picked up," he explained.
Speaking of the terrible explosion, Wray continued, "It threw me in the air, and I landed on top of the winch. Jones (a missing deckhand) fell on top of me. I don't know what happened to him afterwards. I went towards the for'ard end of the trawler and saw Scriven up to his neck in water. The trawler was going down by the stern, and I went aft to try and get the boat out." He praised second Engineer Krisch for his efforts to save Chief Engineer Boast.
Asked how Robert Norton, an Australian living in London, had received his injuries, Wray replied, "He must have been sucked down with the ship. He was badly hurt about the head."
Questioned regarding Skipper Reid, Wray replied, "The last I saw of him was after he had blown one blast on the ship's siren, opening the wheelhouse door - possibly he was going in to get off a wireless message or fetch something, but never had time to get away.
"I KICKED OUT LIKE MAD"
Six feet two inches Ivor Krisch, a South African, who lives at 54, Balfour Street, Hull, felt keenly the death of the Chief Engineer, whom he had tried to save. Although he has only been sailing on Milford trawlers for four month, Krisch came to this country in 1938 and served throughout the war fishing deep sea out of Hull.
"The Chief Engineer had just turned in, and I had just stopped the engines in response to the bridge telegraph when there was the crack of an explosion. It was not terrible, just a solid bang, and I was thrown on my back. Norton was with me down below and I followed him up the ladder. When I got to the top of the deck it seemed to be on an even keel, so I went back to see if she was making any water. No sooner had I hit the bottom of the ladder than the ship gave a sudden lurch. Luckily I got back up the ladder pretty quickly. Seeing a life buoy I threw it over the side. The ship by now was at a terrific angle. Wray shouted, 'Jump, Krisch', and I grabbed hold of the starboard after gallows and just walked straight into the water. When I broke surface and looked up, the propeller was right above me and the stern of the ship was perpendicular, so I kicked out like mad."
"Before I went out on deck, I saw Wray, the bosun, and a deckhand in the water," he went on. "I clung hold of a bit of painter the bosun was clinging to, and then I got a piece for myself. I told Wray to stick close so that we would have a better chance of being picked up. The Chief Engineer was with us in the water and he seemed to be rolling round and round in the water. I couldn't keep him steady. He never seemed to have any life in his legs and seemed to be top heavy."
He looked downcast as he repeated his Chief's last gallant message, "Let me go - I am finished, save yourself."
Questioned about the explosion, Krisch, who had added his praise for the seamanship of the masters of the rescue ships, said, "The first thing that came to my mind was that the mine had gone off under water."
HOURS OF DREADFUL ANXIETY
James G.T. Asby, 12, Gracechurch Terrace, the only local survivor, jumped into the sea as the ship sank. After throwing off his oilskin, he got a hold of a floating spar and clung to it for over an hour until picked up by the " Slebech". His wife and four children had heard the news of the "Charmouth" being blown up on the eight o'clock news on Friday morning and suffered an hour of dreadful anxiety until they knew that Mr Ashby was safe. Mr Asby, a native of Lowestoft, is 46 years of age, and has sailed out of Milford for 27 years. For five years during the war he was employed at the R.N. Mine Depot, but he started going to sea again over a yearago. He was aboard the "Ijuin" another ship of the same company when she brought up a haul of mines in her nets early in October this year.
"WE ARE DEEPLY SORRY ..."
Inquest on Chief Engineer
"We are deeply sorry for those who lost their lives," stated the South Pembrokeshire Coroner, (Col. G.T.Kelway) when he conducted an inquest on Monday afternoon upon Chief Engineer William James Boast.
George William Boast, 47, Stratford Road, a Chief Engineer on steam trawlers and a son of the deceased, gave evidence of identification.
Medical evidence was given by Dr. Roy F. Fairweather, who stated he saw deceased in the mortuary at II.I5 on Saturday morning. In his opinion deceased had been dead 24 to 48 hours. There was a bruise on his left chest but no other outward injuries The symptoms he found were in his opinion consistent with death by drowning.
The last moments of the "Charmouth" were described to the Coroner by Alfred Wray, one of the deckhands, who said he now lived at 60, Waterloo Rd. The "Charmouth", he stated, left Milford on the 7th November with deceased as the Chief Engineer. After fishing in other areas, they started fishing off Ballycotton and continued there until the 14th,the day of the mishap.
The Coroner: What kind of weather was it?
"It was bad weather, sir," replied the witness. "On the I4th, it was blowing very hard with heavy seas."
Witness said there were other vessels fishing in the area but he did not see any near at hand, except one which he saw after the accident occurred. "We shot our gear between 2.45 and 3 O'clock on the afternoon of the I4th. After the gear was shot it was my watch below and I was called to the foc'sle and was walking down the starboard side and had just put my [feet] on the level deck when there was an explosion right under my feet. The gear was about 300 yards away."
The Coroner: Where were you then? About amidships?
"Yes Sir," said the witness, who continued that there was a loud bang, and it seemed to be right under his feet.
The Coroner: Had you seen anything at all prior to that explosion to suggest that there was a mine about?" - No Sir.
"The next thing I knew I was picking myself up from off the deck," went on Wray. "One of the other deckhands fell on me and I said something to him. Then I made my way aft and cried, 'Launch the boat boys', as I saw the ship was going under. We slipped the fastenings off the small boat but because the ship was going fast we did not have time, so I jumped over the side. It was impossible to launch the small boat"
The Coroner: "Did you see the Chief?"
Witness: I saw him on the deck and the next I saw him was in the water.
Witness continued that he saw the small boat floating upside down and he swam towards it. He had seen the Chief before that and the second engineer was assisting him. He then heard the deceased say, 'Carry on boys, I am finished.' When they got to the small boat they saw the fireman sitting on it and he wanted to let go as he was freezing. "I told him to hang on," said Wray, "and later the three of us were picked up by the 'Slebech'."
James Henry Lawrence, 12, Starbuck Road, Skipper of the "Alexander Scott",stated that on Friday 15th November, he was in Ballycotton with boiler tube trouble. The "Tenby Castle" was already in there. Witness was told by the Skipper of that vessel that the body of the deceased had been picked up at sea on the previous day. He was asked to take the body home, which, after obtaining permission from his firm, he did.
Summing up, the Coroner said it was quite evident that owing to the fact that there was no prior warning of the explosion and no indication of anything likely to cause such a catastrophe, the other survivor would not be able to tell him anything more than the witness who had already given evidence before him. It was evident that this vessel in stormy weather was engaged in her ordinary fishing voyage when without any warning at all this violent explosion occurred. In such circumstances there was no direct evidence of what caused the explosion but one was left no doubt that it must have been caused by a floating mine inasmuch as the vessel's gear was even at that time still 300 yards away from the vessel and the mine could not have been pulled up in the trawl. It must have been quite apart from the trawl, and floating partly submerged when unhappily came into contact with part of the vessel and caused such an explosion that the vessel sank in a very short time indeed. Whether any members of the crew were killed out right would never be known but certain it was that all the crew who survived were either thrown into the water, or to try and save themselves they jumped over the side into the water, and then had to battle with the heavy seas prevailing at that time.
A WONDER ANY SURVIVED
"Indeed," said the Coroner, "sitting here makes one wonder how many of the crew could have survived such a sudden catastrophe, when there was no time whatever to make any adequate preparation to try and save themselves. One is very glad that there were some survivors to tell us the facts, and we are deeply sorry for those who lost their lives. Here is a man who had served in trawlers for many years and continued to serve in them for most of the war. After he had survived the ordinary perils of his occupation, and the special perils of war, it is sad to think that now after such a time has passed he has lost his life through one of the after effects of the war. One feels the greatest sympathy with the fishing industry that even now when the war has been over so long that they are still exposed to these perils in addition to the perils they have always faced."
The Coroner returned a verdict that deceased died from drowning accidentally caused when he was thrown into the water when his vessel was blown up. Expressing sympathy with the relatives, the Coroner offered his sympathy also to the deceased shipmates in an occurrence which must have been a severe strain upon all of them.
From the owners of the Charmouth, the Pair Fishing Company, we have received the following letter, signed by Mr. H.J. Richards, managing director:
"We would like to place on record our appreciation to all those who took part in saving and assisting the survivors of the "Charmouth" when she was lost by the exploding of a mine off the South of Ireland last week.
"The survivors have all expressed their admiration of the seamanship of the Skippers who came to their rescue, when they were in the water after the vessel had sunk. We therefore would like to thank Skipper Wm. Cherrington of the "Slebech" and Skipper J. Binham of the "Sutherness" for the prompt and efficient assistance rendered, whereby the lives of the four survivors were saved.
"We should also like to thank the Master of the S.T. "Tenby Castle" for his effort to save the Chief, who unfortunately succumbed due to his age, which made it impossible for him to withstand the exposure which he had suffered.
"Lastly we would like to thank Skipper J. Laurence of the "Alexander Scott" for his warm-hearted offer to bring over the body of the Chief from Ballycotton to Milford, and also to thank Messrs. Jenkerson & Jones, for so willingly acceding to the Master's suggestion to do so.
"The survivors speak very highly of the assistance rendered to them in Ballycotton by the various persons and organisations with whom they came in touch."
Mr John Lewis, chairman of the Milford Urban District Council, writes as follows:
"My colleagues and I, members of the M.U.D.C., desire to express our sincere sympathy to the wives and families of those men who lost their lives in the recent disaster which befell the "Charmouth". We can only hope that they may be given the strength and fortitude to bear the cruel blow which has fallen upon them."
THOSE WHO WERE LOST
Skipper Reid, who was 50 years of age, had been fishing for nearly 30 years, and had defied the Germans in the trawlers through two wars. He leaves a widow, three sons and two daughters. His son Tommy was 14 on Saturday, and his daughter Joyce had her ninth birthday on Friday, when the tragic news was received.
His nephew, George Scriven, who was 21 years of age, had been sailing on trawlers for 18 months. His father, a Chief Engineer, died six years ago, and his mother is an invalid. He was one of five children and has a brother in the fishing fleet.
"Teddy" Dyble was George's bosom pal and was 20 years of age. He was one of five children.
The Mate, Ernest Olney, was in the Dunkirk evacuation and was invalided out of the army. It was his first trip in the Charmouth.
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