DELTA B O.171
Official No: n/a Port Number and Year: Ostend, 1908 (O.171 )
Description: Steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged.
Crew: 10 men (1908).
Built: 1908 by Cochrane & Sons, Selby. (Yard no. 434)
Tonnage: 220 grt 75 net.
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 120.0 / 21.5 / 11.6
Engine: T 3-Cyl. 72 nhp; 10.5 kts. Engine by Earle's Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Co., Hull.
As DELTA B (O.171)
19 Sep 1908: NV 'Delta', Jozef II Straat, Oostende.
Manager: J. Nierinck.
Landed at Milford: 18 Oct 1914; 16, 30 May 1915.
Skippers: Pierre Titeljon.
The owners and measurements are listed in the "Bureau Veritas" registers.
Sep 1914: One of 24 Belgian trawlers which arrived at Milford. Crewed by Belgians, together with families and refugees.
2 Jun 1915: Stopped by U-34 (Kapitänleutnant Claus Rücker), 12 miles SSW of Scillies, shelled and then skipper forced to place explosive charges. Crew of ten took to the small boat, and picked up by HMT DEWSLAND (M220), and landed them at St. Mary's, Scilly Is.
[Information kindly supplied by Maurice Voss; and
Lofthouse T., Mayes G., Newton D., & Thompson M. (2012): Cochrane Shipbuilders Vol.1: 1884 - 1914.]
Accidents and Incidents
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday June 9th 1915:
Belgian Trawler also Sunk
CREW ARRIVE SAFELY.
In addition to the appalling crime connected with the sinking of the steam trawler "'Victoria", the port of Milford also lost another trawler, "Delta B", a Belgian vessel sunk by pirates, news of which reached Milford before the other disasters were known although it happened later.
Very late on Wednesday night it appears that the manager, Mr Jules Baels, received a wire from the skipper- "Delta B sunk by submarine crew saved". Much anxiety was at once felt on Thursday morning when it became known, but of course it was intensified the same night when the survivors from the other trawlers arrived. It was probably the same submarine which accounted for the three trawlers as they occurred in the same region at times not far apart: Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon.
The "Delta B" has had a chequered history since the war [began]. She was one of the trawlers which brought round a large number of refugees and the fishermen's families in October last, and in Folkestone harbour was damaged, having her bow twisted. She had been lying in Milford Docks alongside the slip way till a few weeks ago when she was taken over by Mr Jules Meriuck and sent to Swansea for repairs. These completed, she landed a voyage at Milford, and this was in fact only her second trip out. She left dock [on] Tuesday with a crew of ten men consisting of Pierre Titeljon, Skipper; G.Titeljon, 2nd. Officer; C.Messing, Chief Engineer; other ranks: A.Gouzales, D.Cerpoorber, G.Corme, J. Labeke, L.Ramant, Leon Allay, Alf Mesmaker. All of those families are resident in Milford Haven.
The men arrived safely by the afternoon train on Friday from Penzance and there was a crowd of anxious Belgian women and friends at the station to greet them. Some of the men were able to save their kit and appeared pleased to have got back safely. The manager, Mr Baels, showed them every consideration, and at the rear of his office in Victoria Road had the group photographed. Seen by our reporter, Skipper P. Titeljon said his ship was sunk by shells and gun fire on Wednesday afternoon about eight miles off the Bishops [Rock] (Scilly Islands).
Shots were fired and commenced to fall near them without warning, and he did his best to get out of range. When he first saw the submarine it was between six hundred and eight hundred yards away. Shots fell so thickly that he found it was impossible to get away and ordered his men into the small boat. The commander of the submarine spoke to them and said he was not aware that it was a Belgian fishing boat that he had attacked, but the skipper said he was flying the Belgian flag. The "Delta B" was sunk about half an hour after they left her. The crew were pulling about in the boat for two hours when they were picked up by an English vessel and landed the same evening at St. Mary's Scilly Islands, and from there transferred to Penzance. All the men told their friends of their experiences with characteristic volubility and gesture.
Adding further to his story, Skipper Titeljon said, "It was about two o' clock in the afternoon, when the submarine, which we had not seen, commenced shelling us without warning. I steered the vessel round, showing our stern to the enemy, but as we had the trawl down it took some time to cut the hawser and get free. All this time shell followed shell, passing through the engine room cabin, but only one of the crew was hit, and that was a youth named Frans Davitte, who was hit in the leg and is now in hospital at Penzance. Finding I could not get away I stopped the engines and got the boat out, and by this time the submarine was only about twenty yards away and still shooting at us. An officer in her conning tower waved his hands for us to get into our boat. We did so and pulled away. The submarine fired two shells at the "Delta B" on the starboard, and steamed round to port and fired again two more shells. These took no effect, and then the submarine came close to us and ordered us aboard, and I was commanded to take two bombs and place them amidships, the commander saying, 'You can have half an hour to take off anything you want'. I put the bombs were I was ordered, but neither I nor any of my crew could remove a single thing, and we got back into our boat and resting on our oars, saw our dear old vessel go down stern first. When we got aboard the submarine, I asked a German officer for a drink of water, for I was almost speechless through excitement and shouting orders, but he took not the slightest notice of my request. One of my crew I heard saying to a German sailor, 'Why did you do it?' meaning firing at us
'Oh', said he, 'This is war, and we shall sink every thing we see'. When we got into our boat a second time, we pulled about for one and a half hours, and then the Milford trawler "Dewsland" came and landed us at St. Mary's, Scilly Islands."
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