Official No:  136159    Port Number and Year: 19th in Swansea, 1919 (SA32)

                                                                                  8th in Milford, 1922 (M254)

                                                                               22nd in Hull, 1925 (H164)

                                                                                 2nd in Milford, 1930 (M68)

Description: Castle Class steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged: foresail, mainsail, mizzen.

Crew:  10 men (1922); 11 men > 12 men

Registered at Milford:19 Oct 1922 (CALLANCROFT M254)

21 Jan 1930 (DUNCAN MCRAE M68)

Built: 1919 by Cook, Welton & Gemmel, Beverley as ANDREW APSLEY.  (Yard no. 414)

Tonnage: 290.16 grt  126.58 net.

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 125.5 /  23.5 / 12.7

Engine: T 3-Cyl. 86 hp.10.5 kts.  Engine: 1919, Amos & Smith, Albert Docks, Hull.




19 Dec 1919: John Williams, 28 Sketty Rd., Swansea.

Manager: Harry E. Rees, South Dock, Swansea.



7 Nov 1922: John Prout Dawes, Upper Hill St., Hakin

Richard Garrett, Picton Rd., Hakin.

Managing owner: Herman Westenborg, 73 Shakespeare Ave., Milford.



13 Mar 1925: Hull Northern Fishing Co. Ltd., St. Andrews Dock, Hull

Manager: William Richard Nowell. (1925)

                Frank O. Hellyer & Owen S. Hellyer. (1929)


21 Jan 1930: As DUNCAN MCRAE M68

Managing owner: John McRae Knight, Cunjic House, Cunjic, Hakin (64/64)

                             (1930-36; died 10 Sep 1936)



25 Nov 1936: Milford Steam Trawlers, Docks, Milford.

Manager: Harry Eastoe Rees (25 Nov 1936);

                James Carpenter Ward (9 Sep 1938).


Landed at Milford:

(As CALLANCROFT SA32) 27 Aug - 17 Oct 1922.

(As CALLANCROFT M254) 7 Nov 1922 - 2 Jan 1925.

(As CALLANCROFT H164) 20 Jan - 11 Feb 1930.

(As DUNCAN MCRAE M68) 25 Feb 1930 - 13 Nov 1936.

(As MILFORD EARL M68) 26 Nov 1936 - 27 Aug 1939.


Ambrose George Owston 7364, 1922.

William George Davies, 1930


Andrew Apsley; aged 21, born Carrickfergus, Antrim; Landsman, HMS ROYAL SOVEREIGN; at Trafalgar.

Duncan McRae (1873-1931) was an actor and film director.

2 Jun 1919: Completed as fishing vessel. Sold to mercantile; as CALLANCROFT.

4 Jan 1921: Laid up in Milford, awaiting owner.

Aug 1939: Requisitioned for war service as MILFORD EARL and converted to minesweeper (FY.565); 1x12pdr AA. 

8 Dec 1941: Sunk by German aircraft off Lunan Bay, E. coast of Scotland, with the loss of 5 men; 5 rescued. (Together with PHINEAS BEARD  M271. )

Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed:

As CALLANCROFT M254: 24 Mar 1925. Transferred to port of Hull.

As MILFORD EARL M68: 19 Oct 1942.  (23 Mar 1943: Finally closed after all mortgages paid.)

 Accidents and Incidents

From the West Wales Guardian, Friday 6th June 1923:


    During the recent weeks several Milford steam trawlers have been experimenting with a newly patented French fishing trawl, which some people declare will eventually supersede the old British trawl.  It is understood that the cost of using this new arrangement is a heavy burden upon the owners, because a certain sum has been paid each day for the liberty of using this French trawl, but apparently a much greater return of fish is being secured by its use.  The French trawl is much larger than the one in common use, and it is so completed that with the use of bottles on the line the top of the net does not go below the surface.

    It is used aboard the "Callancroft", "Thomas Bartlett", "James Green" and some other trawlers.  On her last trip the first named secured 220 kits of hake, the "Thomas Bartlett" about 400 kits and the "James Green" about 260 kits.  This shows that the use of the new French trawl has caused supplies to be heavier.



Statement by the Skipper William George Davies:  20.11.1930.


    I am the Skipper of the steam trawler 'Duncan McRae'.  We had logged one hundred and five miles from St.Ann's. The signals the 'Adventure' [sic, passim] had up was the white ensign upside down and a ball up on the mast head. First of all we threw out a fisherman's float, a pallet, that is to say, filled with air, down to the 'Adventure' . We could not however get him that way as they were unable to pick it up. That was because it didn't come near enough to them. We had to go across his head before launching the pallet. We crossed his head at a distance of about 100 to 150 feet.  He was lying with the wind abreast of him, blowing into his starboard side. We steamed across from his starboard side down wind to his port side and in passing him just before we got to him we let go the float.  I then pulled the float on board again and got ready with a heaving line.  We then steamed along his port side throwing a heaving line as we passed.  He got the heaving  line first time.  We passed him at a distance of about 50 feet or so being as close as we dare in order to have plenty of way to get the line on board of him. We then gave him our warp on the end of a dan line which we had attached to the heaving line. We had 60 fathoms of both warps already on our deck to pay away. We made both warps fast to the dan line and he pulled them both on board. During this operation we were just lying about 200 feet ahead of him just keeping our engines going so as to keep clear of him.

    We were towing at about eight miles an hour up to the evening. It was fairly comfortable all the time with the wind on our starboard quarter. There is more steadiness in a towing with two warps than with one only. When we picked him up the wind was between four and five from a Westerly direction with a choppy sea.  It was an ordinary sea as you would find with a four to five wind. At about 8p.m., by which time the wind had reached about nine, one of the tow ropes parted as a result of the jerk and strain from the heavy swell. We were then about six miles South of the Smalls.  We then eased down our speed.  There was no chance whatever in the prevailing weather conditions of getting the second warp connected up again with the 'Adventure' .  We then reduced speed to about four miles an hour. The wind gradually increased in force during the morning, afternoon and early evening until at about nine to ten p.m. It reached nine to ten and veered to the North North West.  We were then about Skokholm.    

    We got inside St.Ann's Head by two a.m., and we came up to Gellyswick Bay which we reached at about three a.m.  We put the 'Adventure' alongside of us.  We were anchored.  We lashed him alongside of us.  The 'Adventure'  did not put an anchor down.  It would not be necessary as we had him lashed to us.  We hove up at about five a.m. and got him into dock about about six.

    After we got inside St. Ann's Head, the wind eased down without changing its direction from North North West, between two a.m. and six a.m. It gradually decreased until it reached about five to six.  We moored in Gellyswick Bay as it gave us more room for manoeuvring and we were out of the way of ships entering the harbour and of the stationary vessels in the harbour.  We had no difficulty in getting him into dock.    

    When we picked him up there was several ships to the Westward engaging in fishing operations, they were about seven to eight miles away, too far to see his signals and as they were to windward of him they would not hear his whistle.  We did not hear the whistle, we could only see the steam.  No other vessel came up whilst we were engaged in getting into communication with him, the visibility was eight to ten miles.  He was Northward about eight to ten miles off the ordinary track of trawlers, there is very little coasting traffic that way. It was misty weather and we had to get as near as three miles before we could discern his signals. We could see the steam from his whistle at a distance of five to six miles.  On our way in we passed two or three trawlers fishing. The 'Aventure'  was getting his fishing gear in when we reached the scene, so he could not have been disabled very long.     

    Had we not picked him up when we did I doubt if he would have been picked up for a long while and in the meantime the wind increased so much that great difficulty would have been caused in getting a tow rope on board of him.  He was not in any danger of going ashore at the time I picked him up as the wind was blowing along the coast.  I am unable to give any information as to the tides at that time.  Had the second tow rope parted there would have been a possibility if we had not been able to get into communication with him again of his going on to the "Hats and Barrels". Neither of the warps is of any use again.

    We left for sea again at about three o'clock on the Saturday afternoon. We actually left the dock by the same tide as we entered, but owing to my having to give depositions we could not leave again until three o'clock.  There was nothing extra wanted on the trawler. I don't reckon the engines were strained in the towing, no damage done at all except to the warps.   

    When we were trying to get into communication with the 'Aventure'  we ran the usual risk of fouling our propeller with the tow rope and of colliding with the "Aventure".  It was raining hard all the evening and night practically obscuring our visibility.  Between the Smalls and Skokholm I stopped and heaved the lead, in order to ascertain my position as I could not see any lights at the time.  Finding that I was in 32 fathoms of water I started off again knowing that I was all right.


William George Davies, Havens Head, Hakin. o.n. 15708.


Value of the "Aventure"- 2,008. Skipper James William Chaney. o.n.6638.

Value of the "Duncan MacRae"-8,000.



From an unknown local newspaper of the week beginning 1st November 1936:


    The four steam trawlers of the McRae Steam Trawling Company, which were recently purchased by the Milford Steam Trawling Company Limited, will be renamed shortly.  We are informed by the new owners that the names will be Milford Duke, Milford Duchess, Milford Count and Milford Countess.  It is evident that a royal and regal line is being followed.

    It is rumoured in the port that a number of further additions to the port's fleet is contemplated.  Three boats for Charles H. Brand and Company are being subjected to survey.





From an unknown local newspaper of the week beginning 2nd October 1938:


    The motor trawler "Celtic", which left Milford Docks on September 20th for a trial voyage to the westward hake fishing grounds, landed her trip on the market on Monday morning.  The vessel arrived on Sunday evening, so that her voyage did not go the full distance.  It was unfortunate that the steam trawler "Milford Earl", which left port at the same time to fish the same grounds for the same length of time, was forced to return last Wednesday with engine failure, so that the an actual comparison could not be made. 

    The "Milford Earl" landed 50 kits for eight days, whilst the "Celtic's" voyage for three days longer totalled 100 kits.  The trip consisted of hake and mixed fish of equal quantities.

    When spoken to regarding the result of the experiment, Mr. J. C. Ward, the Docks Manager, who sponsored the trip, did not say much, as it was intended that another trip should be made.  However, owing to the crisis last week, many Belgian trawlers landed their catches at British ports, with the result that the quota allocated to Belgian-caught fish had been practically exhausted, so that it was extremely doubtful if another trip by the "Celtic" would have been allowed.

    It was therefore decided to return the vessel to Ostend, and the Company are now considering the valuable information obtained from the voyage.  As to the future of the venture, it is now a question of wait and see.


[ The crisis referred to is that surrounding the German demands for the Sudetenland, culminating in the Munich Agreement signed on 29th September 1938, by Britain, France, Nazi Germany and Italy,  allowing Germany to occupy the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. ]



The Times, Monday, Dec 15, 1941; pg. 4; Issue 49109; col E
     News in Brief


        The Board of Admiralty regrets to announce that H.M. trawlers Phineas Beard (Skipper William McRuvie, R.N.R.) and Milford Earl (Lieutenant J. S. Neite,  R.N.V.R) have been sunk.

        The next-of-kin of casualties have been informed.




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