Courtesy of Robert Kettle

Official No: 128761     Port Number and Year:   4th in Milford, 1912

Description: Wooden sailing smack; beam trawling.  Ketch rigged: foresail, mainsail, and mizzen.

Crew: 4 men

Registered: 22 Apr 1912

Built: 1912, by J. W. & A. Upham, Brixham

Tonnage: 56.45 grt  44.8 net. 

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 70.7 / 19.3 / 8.9

Engine: -



22 Apr 1912: Alfred George John, 'Treathro', Goodwick (16/64)

Levi Hughes, Trevayeg (Trevasser?), Fishguard (16/64)

Henry Rowland Morris, Trevasser, Fishguard (16/64)

James John, 'Treathro', Goodwick (16/64)

Manager: John H. Bishop, Docks, Milford.


Landed at Milford: 2 May 1912 - 25 Apr 1916; 22 Jan - 24 Apr 1917.

Skippers: Edward James Pillar cert. 8032, age 26, born Brixham; residing Queen's Court, Brixham; signed on 2 May, 8 Jul 1912; 9 Jan 1913.

R. Novock 10376, 23, Brixham; 17 Apr 1913.

R.F. Stamp 10570 (17 Jun 1913)

T.W. Cole 4085 (7 Jan 1915; 3 Apr 1917)

G.M. Foster 11949 (10 Jan 1916)



Strumble is the name of a headland near Fishguard.

May 1916: Requisitioned and converted as Q Ship (submarine decoy vessel). 1 x 12 pdr.

[See below - the Milford smack  KEMES served as a Q-ship for only six months; the same was possibly true of STRUMBLE.]

4 May 1917: Stopped by UC-65 (Kapitšnleutnant Otto Steinbrinck), captured, bombs placed aboard and scuttled 10 miles NNE of Strumble Head; no lives lost. 

(However, see R & B Larn below. See also VICTORIOUS BM255) 

Cert. Cancelled & Registry Closed: 16 May 1917. Vessel sunk by enemy submarine.

 From a report by the Senior Naval Officer, Milford Haven, to the Admiralty, in May 1916:


Special Service Vessels.

            The sailing trawler N.[sic] 135 "Strumble" was requisitioned for Special Service in my Area on 1st May and M.145 "Kemes" on 4th May.  Both these vessels were fishing from this Port and are well built and considered suitable for the required service.  They have been manned by a specially selected crew from amongst the ratings serving in Patrol vessels under my command and on 6th May proceeded to Falmouth for fitting out.

            Up to the present I have been unable to secure the two additional coasting vessels sanctioned by Admiralty Letter M. 03299/1916 of 22nd April 1916.



[Note by Michael Lowrey:

The issue is whether she was operating as a Q-ship when sunk. "British Vessels Lost at Sea 1914-18" lists her in the fishing vessel section, not the Navy vessel section, where the other Q-ship losses are listed. In Spindler's official history of U-boat operations, STRUMBLE is described as yet another smack that was stopped and scuttled. No indication that she was a Q-ship. If STRUMBLE really were a Q-ship, she would have done something (like fire on the U-boat) to make the Germans notice that she was a Q-ship.]




However, the very circumstantial report below, including the reference to no fewer than 24 crew members, suggests that STRUMBLE was indeed a Q-ship.



From R. &. B. Larn (2000): Shipwreck Index of the British Isles - West Coast and Wales:


STRUMBLE                04/05/1917


Pembrokeshire, Strumble Head, 10M NNE, offshore.    52.11N  05W


Fitted out as a decoy vessel, known as Q-ships, this smack was armed and entered Royal Navy service in June 1916, being based at Milford Haven in the care of HM yacht IDAHO.  She was at sea when challenged by the German submarine U-65, which refused to close on the STRUMBLE, so that it was unable to carry out a surprise attack on the enemy vessel.  U-65 gave the crew of the smack a chance to escape in their own boat, which was part of the normal 'panic' display shown by a Q-ship, only in this case the submarine continued to shell her until she sank.  The submarine then went alongside the upturned, on which 13 men were clinging to the keel, a further nine on a raft, whilst the Captain and Chief Officer were picked up from floating wreckage.  One of the crew swam to the U-boat and asked permission to land on their deck so that the lifeboat could be righted, but he met with a terse reply, and the submarine made off.  Four crew died of exposure on the raft, until they were picked up by a trawler and landed at Milford.  (Lloyd's Confidential War Loss Record 1914-18)


        Back to Smacks