Kindly supplied by Ann Axford

Official No:  143771     Port and Year:  London, 1919 

Description: Castle Class steel side trawler; coal fired. Ketch rigged.

Crew: 10 men (1919). 11 men (1927).

Built: by Smith's Docks Co., Southbank on Tees, North Shields, in 1917.  (Yard no. 704)

Tonnage:   275 grt  107 net

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 125.5 / 23.4 / 12.8                                                         

Engine: T 3-Cyl; 61 rhp; by Haworth, Leslie & Co., Newcastle.




24 Oct 1919: Raymond D.T. Bird, The Docks, Milford.

Managing owner.



25 Aug 1927: T. J. Jenkerson & Jones, Docks, Milford.

Manager: Tom Jenkerson (Later, after 1946: Leslie Jenkerson.)


1956: Milford Steam Trawling Co., Docks, Milford.

Manager: David C. Bruton, 'Cunjic House', Hakin.


Landed at Milford:

As HMT JAMES SIBBALD: 4 Jan - 30 Mar 1919. (12 landings.)

As KIRKLAND: 20 Nov 1919 - 11 Nov 1921; 29 Jan 1922 - 23 Jun 1926; 12 Jan - 22 Apr 1927.

As OUR BAIRNS: 1 Aug 1927 - 4 Dec 1939; 25 May 1947 - 3 Jul 1957

Skippers: David  J. Davies (1920); Benjamin Bryant (1926); James Gale (1948); Algy Matthews (1951); Billy Wilcox (1953); Clifford Saunders (1956-7).


James Sibbald, age 19, born Leith; Master's Mate, HMS VICTORY, at Trafalgar. 

Kirkland is the name ("Church land") of places in Cumberland and Dumfries.

20 Jul 1917: Launched for the Admiralty as JAMES SIBBALD (No. 3525) as an escort vessel.

24 Oct 1919: Sold to mercantile and renamed as KIRKLAND.

Dec 1939: Requisitioned as OUR BAIRNS and converted to a minesweeper (P. no. FY.1566)

Jan 1944: Converted to an Esso.

1945: Employed on target towing.

Jul 1946: Returned to owners.

1957: Broken up at Ward's Yard, Castle Pill.  [Last trawler to be broken up there.]

Accidents and Incidents

The Times, Saturday, Nov 20, 1920; pg. 7; Issue 42573; col D





    The Dutch motor schooner Neptuneus [sic], from Llanelly to Sweden, with coal, foundered on Thursday morning south-west of the Smalls lighthouse owing to the cargo shifting during the gale. The mate died of exhaustion, and the boat containing the four remaining men capsized.  The captain swam to the steam trawler Kirkland, which had witnessed the accident, and the others clung to wreckage until rescued by lifelines.  The four men were landed at Milford Haven yesterday.


From the Western Telegraph of Wednesday 24th November 1920:


     On the late tide Thursday night the steam trawler "Kirkland" (Captain David J. Davies) arrived at Milford Haven, having aboard four survivors from the Dutch motor vessel "Neptunus", which foundered just after nine o'clock that morning at a point eighteen miles west-south-west of the Smalls in a very heavy sea.  Her Dutch captain narrates a very thrilling story, and the rescue by the captain and crew of the "Kirkland" was effected in the face of immense difficulties and in a terrible sea. 

    It appears from the story that the Dutch vessel, carrying five hands, left the port of Llanelly for a port in Sweden, with a cargo of coal.  In the terrible gale the cargo must have shifted and the motor vessel turned over.  The ship's crew, realising the grave position they were in, were forced to take to the small boat, but in such a sea this size boat could not live, and soon it was capsized also, and the men were thrown into the sea.

    It was only by a miracle that the trawler "Kirkland" came into sight.  Captain Davies thought that he could discern something like a vessel on the face of the water, and by the aid of his glasses saw that there were two men clinging to the small boat.  H e put his vessel to full steam ahead to get there as quickly as possible.

    It was impossible when they there to launch their own small boat in those conditions, so he manoeuvred his trawler back and fore, up and down.  The captain of the "Neptunus", who was one of the men clinging to the small boat, swam off and reached the "Kirkland", and after being pulled aboard exhausted, reported that his mate was drowned after becoming exhausted in the struggle.

    By the aid of lifelines thrown from the "Kirkland", the other three members of the crew were hauled out of the water and brought safely aboard the trawler, but not without extreme difficulty.

    The rescued men were loud in their praise for the splendid seamanship and daring of the "Kirkland's" crew, and the kindness shown them whilst they were aboard.  On Friday they were taken in hand by Mr. Stanley Hancock, the local representative of the Sailors' Mission, and they left that night for London by train.



From the West Wales Guardian of uncertain date, possibly Friday 10th September 1926:




    One more of Milford's old and respected skippers has passed over to the majority this week, Skipper Benjamin Bryant, who passed away on Sunday at 4 p.m., at his residence, Greville Road, after a short illness.  A few weeks ago, Mr. Bryant, who was skipper of the s.t. Kirkland (Mr. Birt), had to remain on shore with a poisoned hand, but subsequently returned with his vessel to sea.  After four days out he was taken so seriously ill that the vessel had to return to port, and the Skipper was brought home just over a fortnight ago, since when his condition has been very grave, and despite the best medical treatment, he passed away as stated.  In the prime of life, he was 53 years of age.  He had been in Milford Haven about 30 years, and was one of the best-known skippers in the port.  He was a native of the Plymouth district.  Very deep sympathy is felt with the bereaved widow, three surviving daughters, and two sons.




From an unknown local newspaper, in the week beginning 26th June 1927:


    The steam trawlers "Kirkland" and "Raywernol", which for years have been under the management of Mr. G. H. D. Birt, have just been sold.  The fear generally is that when boats change ownership it is to the detriment of the port by going elsewhere.  In this case it is gratifying to know that they are being retained in Milford's fleet, having been taken over by the enterprising owner and manager, Mr. Tom Jenkerson.  This will be good news.



The Times, Thursday, 11th January, 1934; pg. 20; Issue 46649:


From Lloyds


GWMAHO.― Fishguard Wireless Station, Jan. 10.  Following message received from British trawler Gwmaho, via British trawler Our Bairns, at 10.15 pm ― Explosion in chart room, no means of navigation.  Owners advise trawler Settsu standing by Gwmaho.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 24th May 1946:


    On Wednesday the reconverted "Hatano"  left on her first post-war voyage in charge of her pre-war skipper, Mr. Tom Donovan, D.S.C., North Road.  This brings the fleet to six ships, compared with sixteen before 1939.

    The firm, which specialised in Castle trawlers, always had a fine maintenance reputation, and their trawlers, to quote a fisherman, were turned out like yachts.  At the start of the war, their whole fleet of fourteen trawlers was conscripted.  Three were returned for fishing, but eleven performed grand work as minesweepers through the war.  Two, the "Nogi" and "Tamura" [ were lost ].  The "Togimo", another Jenkerson trawler, was sunk while fishing off Ireland in February 1940.  The "Yezo" is still in service, the "Settsu" is undergoing reconversion at Plymouth, and should return to Milford within the next six weeks.  The "Our Bairns" is being refitted for fishing at Milford, but it has not yet been decided whether the "David Ogilvie", lately returned from service, will fish again.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 14th January 1949:


    Two names must be added to the list of Milford's crack skippers for 1948.  One of them is veteran James Gale, D.S.C., who grossed 34,275 in the Our Bairns (Messrs. Jenkerson) and thus achieves second place among the Castle Class skippers, beating the Peter Carey for the distinction.  Errors in the figures denied him the honour in our last issue, and we hasten to make this correction.

    Last week too we mentioned Crabber trawler returns and omitted reference to the drifters.  Top drifter-trawler Skipper is Jack Chenery, of the Lord Suffolk (Mr. F. Ingram), who returned 20,000 for the twelve months - really fine fishing.



The Times, Tuesday, Feb 06, 1951; pg. 6; Issue 51918; col B
     Widespread Floods


    Eight Milford Haven trawlers were searching an area to the west of Ireland last night for the Milford trawler Our Bairns, which was damaged by a huge wave on Sunday night.

    Early this morning an Admiralty spokesman said that messages indicated that the trawler had been located.  It was understood that she was being escorted to Berehaven, Southern Ireland.



The Times, Wednesday, Feb 07, 1951; pg. 2; Issue 51919; col F
     News in Brief


The trawler Our Bairns was reported yesterday to be on her way home to Milford Haven after having been damaged in Sunday night's gale.  She is escorted by another trawler and is due in today.



The Times, Thursday, Feb 08, 1951; pg. 3; Issue 51920; col D
     News in Brief


The trawler Our Bairns, badly damaged by a tremendous wave while fishing in west Irish waters on Sunday, came into Milford Docks yesterday, escorted by the sister-ship Settsu.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 9th February 1951:


    "We've been to hell and come back again". That is how a member of the crew of the "Our Bairns" described the 30 hours ordeal in which he and 12 ship mates on board were lost in the teeth of the worst gale in the Atlantic in living memory. During those 30 hours the port relived some of the anxiety experienced in the grim days of last Spring, when the "Milford Viscount" disappeared, but this time the story had a happier ending.

    The Our Bairns" sailed from Milford last Wednesday and with her on the same tide went her sister ship, the "Settsu".   Skipper R. A. Matthews, 21, Edward Street, was in command of the "Our Bairns", his first trip as a permanent skipper, and in the "Settsu" was his former skipper, Norman O. Brown, Sussex Lodge, Hakin. They knew each other  well, for Matthews had been Mate on the "Yezo" when she sank last October, and Brown had been the skipper saved with him. But neither realised the part fate was again going to play in bringing them together.

    On Sunday the "Our Bairns" was, along with other trawlers, caught in the terrific gale wrhich swept the south-west Irish fishing grounc1s. Then came a radio message from her saying that she had been hit by a giant wave and was listing badly, was lost in the Atlantic without working compasses. All trawlers in the area, 27 in all, from the home port, Swansea and Cardiff, immediately started searching for the distressed vessel.  A later message picked up faintly indicated that she was back on even keel, but was still helplessly lost. The Owners informed all the families of the exact position and at mid-day on Sunday was constituted a search by aircraft of Coastal Command.  A flying boat flew over the area but returned to base without finding any trace of the ship.

    On Monday night there were fears in Milford.  The Owners, knowing that the ship's radio batteries were damaged, appealed to all amateur radio men to keep off the air to give the searching trawlers every chance to pick up a message. Many people in Milford sat up listening to the trawler wave-band for news that the vessel was safe.

    This happy message did come just after 1.30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when Land's End radio station picked up a message saying the "Settsu" had found the ship, and was escorting her.  A representative of the company went round all the relatives immediately telling them their men were safe and would be corning home.

    So it was that in the frosty dark at 5.20 a.m. on Wednesday the battered "Our Bairns" steamed slowly into the dock, closely followed by the escorting sister ship.  A small crowd of market workers gathered at the berthing place and were amazed to see the damage the ship had suffered and yet got back under her own steam.

    A director (Mr. T. K. Jenkerson) was the first on board to shake the Skipper by the hand and give a word of praise to the crew, who still seemed dazed and exhausted after their grim experience. Skipper (Algie) Matthews, a 44 year old native of Ramsgate, and an ex-Naval Lieutenant of the last war, forgot some of his natural reticence in his relief at being home.

    "I never want to go through anything like that again,"  he said. "I have been at sea since I was 14 years old, but have never experienced such a gale."   He paid tribute to the great work of the Chief Engineer, Mr Herbert G. Webster, 50, Shakespeare Avenue.

    "There isn't a medal good enough for him," the skipper declared. "He is the real hero, he did an amazing job and we would never have got back without him". Skipper Matthews continued: "At 1.10 p. m. on Sunday, we were dodging the awful weather by laying.  We were in a position 50.10 North, and 11. 5 West. I was having dinner with the crew in the cabin and the mate was the only one on the bridge. The telegraph rang and I got up to go to the bridge.  As I reached the door there was a terrific woof as a huge wave smashed us.  We heeled over so badly that I found myself standing on the door which had become the floor. Water was pouring in everywhere and the dishes and fittings were scattered and smashed all over the place.  I got up on to the bridge and found that part of the wheelhouse had gone, our small boat and Carley floats had been swept away, doors and hatch covers torn off, and the compass and radio transmitter damaged. The coal in the bunkers had moved and we had a heavy list."

    "In the engine room it was all water and steam and I don't know how the Chief managed to carry on.  He kept the enqines going all the time, enabling the pumps and bilges to be kept clear.  It took us about 20 minutes to get the ship back into the wind and we had to keep steaming all the time. Our radio transmitter was damaged but we managed to send out one message before it gave up.  After that we could not transmit anything. We could hear the other trawlers on the radio searching for us but it was not until Monday night that we heard the "Settsu". "We steamed for over 3 hours in a heavy gale before we saw her lights - a   wonderful sight I can tell you".    

    The Mate of the "Our Bairns", Bill Kingston, who was on the bridge when the ship was hit, said, "I have never seen seas like it before and never want to again. We has to keep steaming all the time else we would have gone completely. On Monday afternoon a big Cunard liner passed our stern, within half a mile of us. We sent up 2 flares, waved a flag and sounded the siren, but she cid not even acknowledge our signals.  All ships had had the Lloyd's message asking them to look out for us and I can't understand why the liner did not report us. She was outward bound going very slow, dodging the waves herself."

    The Skipper of the "Settsu", Norman Brown, agreed with Mr. Kingston. "The liner passed us," he said. "If she had reported your position we could have contacted you much sooner."  Skipper Brown said, "I was only too pleased to be the one to find the 'Our Bairns'- or rather he found us. Skipper Matthews was my Mate on the 'Yezo' and two other men from the "Yezo" were in his crew, as  well as two more in the 'Settsu's' crew."

    "I  was sixty miles from the "Our Bairns" when I heard the distress message and we had steamed for 24 hours before we saw her. The gale  was blowing from Sunday night till Tuesday morning, and it was the worst I can ever remember.  We had a good trip all the 268 miles home and I'm certainly glad to be here. The 'Settsu' herself got smashed a bit, our small boat is gone too," he added.

    Members of the "Our Bairns" crew jokingly called Chief Engineer Webster "The Cat".  "He must have nine lives", they said.  "He has been sunk five times already."

    Every man had nothing but praise for Mr Webster' s work, but he was very reluctant to speak of what he did.  "When the wave hit is  we were left in darkness for twenty minutes until they got the dynamo running again," he said. "The engine room was full of water and the engine was actually running in the water.  My main task was to keep the bilges clear from the coal dust and to keep the pumps working."

    Mr Webster admitted that he had been a survivor twice in the First World War, and twice in the Second World War, as well as from the "Yezo".   In 1941 he was Mentioned in Dispatches while serving on H.M.S."Snaefell" as Lieutenant, R.N.V.R. 

    The Skipper, Mate and Chief Engineer were full of praise for the work of the crew. "Those boys did a grand job moving all those bunkers back," they said. The 13 men of the "Our Bairns" had been without sleep and practically without food for 30 hours, but all that was forgotten when they set foot on land again - the land they thought for a  while they had seen for the last time.

    Mr. F. W. Farey-Jones, prospective Conservative candidate for the county, met and shook hands with the Skipper and crew of "Our Bairns" on Milford Docks

on Thursday morning.  "They are all heroes", he commented.                                                                      ..


A Thanks given Service for the safe return of the" Our Bairns" and her crew will be held at the Deep Sea Mission on Sunday evening at 8 p.m.




Back Row L-R: Deckie P. Dillane, Bosun P. Kenny, Cook F.W. Dunkerley,  Deckies J.R. Huddlestone, T. Halley & D. Smart. 

Front  Row:  Fireman R. Beech, 3rd Hand J. Dyson, Mate J. Sayers, Skipper Billy  Wilcox, 2nd Eng F. Andrews, Chief Eng A. Davies & Fireman A. Jaxy

John Stevenson Collection


From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 28th August 1953:



    The Milford steam trawler "Our Bairns" figured in a successful rescue tow off the Irish Coast on Wednesday night.

    While fishing off Ballycotton, skipper W. Wilcox, 84, Priory Road, heard a message from the steam ship "Mountwood", asking for assistance.  A line was got to her from the trawler and the tow into Cork was completed on Thursday morning.

    The s.s."Mountwood" had a crew of seven, four of them Irishmen.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 25th May 1956:


    A staggering blow to the depressed Milford fishing industry is the news that the old established trawling firm of Messrs. T. J. Jenkerson and Sons is going out of business.  The decision means that five Castle class trawlers and the only oil-fired post-war vessel in port will be withdrawn from fishing, throwing another 70 trawlermen out of work.  In addition, the firm has a considerable administration and maintenance staff, and is principally concerned in the Milford Engineering Company, Ltd., which will also be seriously affected.

    Two weeks ago Messrs. Jenkerson, whose principals are the brothers Leslie and Kenneth, scrapped two Castle boats, the Hatano and Alexander Scott. 

    The present fleet consists of the coal burners Lephreto, Damito, William Bunce, Our Bairns, Their Merit, and the oil burner David Ogilvie, which was built in Aberdeen in 1949. 

    It is expected that all the ships with the exception of the David Ogilvie will go to the scrap yard.



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 8th June 1956:



    Last week we reported that the Hon. Hanning Philipps and Mrs Philipps had joined the Board of Directors of the Milford Steam Trawling Co., Ltd.

    This week the firm has purchased one of Messrs. Jenkerson's vessels, the Settsu (built 1924) and the Managing Director (Col. D. C. Bruton) stated: "We also intend to buy the Our Bairns."

    The Settsu sailed on Thursday morning for her new owners in charge of her regular master, Skipper Norman Brown.

    The Our Bairns (built 1917) is due in from sea this week-end when it is expected she will be taken over by the Steam Trawling Co.


Docks Company Buy Trawler

    Another announcement which ahs been received with much satisfaction is the news that Milford Docks Company on Wednesday bought the Jenkerson trawler Their Merit.

    Mr. J. C. Ward, general manager of the company, stated on Thursday:  "The Their Merit has been bought by the Milford Docks Company and will operate from the port under the management of Merchants (Milford Haven) Ltd.  Her present skipper, Mr. George Spooner, and most of the same crew will remain with the ship which it is hoped will return to sea on Saturday morning.  She will be renamed to include the word 'Merchant'."

    The Their Merit was built in 1919 at Port Arthur, Canada.  Her purchase by the Docks Company has been welcomed not only because it is a practical sign of the company's declared aim to help the fishing industry in whichever way it can.


Returns to Where She Was Built

    Messrs. Jenkerson's oil-fired trawler the David Ogilvie, built in Aberdeen in 1949, has been sold to the same port.  Mr. T. K. Jenkerson told the "Guardian", "The David Ogilvie has been sold to the North Star Fishing Co., Aberdeen, and will leave some time next week."



From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 23rd August 1957:


    We learn that the trawler Our Bairns, belonging to the Milford Steam Trawling Company, is to be scrapped shortly.  Originally she was one of Jenkerson's fleet.




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