THOMAS BOOTH LO229 / M274
Roger Worsley Archive
Official No: 143767 Port Number and Year: 521st in London, 1919 (LO229)
6th in Milford, 1938
Description: Castle Class steel side trawler; steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged: mizzen sail.
Crew: 10 men
Registered in Milford: 23 May 1938
Built: 1918 by Cook, Welton & Gemmell, Beverely, for the Admiralty. (Yard no. 387)
Tonnage: 277.45 grt 125.14 net.
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 125.5 / 23.5 / 12.7
Engine: T 3-Cyl. 60.7 nhp.10 kts. Engine by Amos & Smith, Albert Docks, Hull; and boiler by Earles Shipbuilding & Engineering.Co., Hull
13 Sep 1919: The Admiralty, London.
Manager: The Secretary of the Admiralty, Whitehall, London SW1.
13 Dec 1919: The Skomer Steam Shipping Co., Ltd., Milner Chambers, Cardiff.
Manager: Lewis Bull. (Same address.)
16 Nov 1923: Brand & Curzon Ltd., Docks, Milford.
Managers: Edward Brand & Charles Curzon. (Same address.)
23 May 1938: Milford Fisheries, Docks, Milford.
Manager: Owen Willie Limbrick, Pill Lane, Milford.
Landed at Milford: As LO229: 10 Dec 1919; 3 Feb 1920 - 18 May 1938.
As M274: 12 Jun 1938 - 17 Oct 1954.
Skippers: James McDonald (1922); Bobby Limbrick (1940-51); Jack Clark (1952); E. Robson (1954); Albert Seeling (1954).
Thomas Booth born Saunton Dean, Devon; age 20; landsman, HMS VICTORY, Trafalgar.
6 Jun 1918: Completed as a minesweeper; 1x12pdr., and fitted with Listening Hydrophones. (Admy. no. 3892).
1920: Sold to mercantile.
19 May 1922: At 4.35 a.m. collided the Limerick steel screw schooner FOYNES (822 grt), 93 miles W by N of St. Ann's Head. [See below.]
Aug 1939: Requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted to a minesweeper.
Oct 1939: Returned to owners.
16 Jan 1954: Stood by the LYNANDI, drifting in heavy weather 23 miles off St. Ann's Head.
(See LYNANDI's page for detailed information.)
Cert. Cancelled & Milford Registry Closed: 14 Jan 1955. Broken up at Ward's Yard, Castle Pill.
Accidents and Incidents
Statement by Captain James McDonald, Master of Steam Trawler THOMAS BOOTH (Great North Road, Milford Haven), and Charles Swansea of The Bethel, Milford Haven (Bosun), in May 1922:
THOMAS BOOTH left Milford Haven 4.30 on Thursday afternoon for the fishing grounds with a crew of 10 men all told. Everything went well until about 4.35 on the following morning (Friday) when we were steaming West and by North going just about 7 miles per hour. All our lights were burning brightly, we had a slight drizzle for about an hour but at the time stated it had cleared and the visibility was good for about 2 miles. I went off the Bridge about 11.40pm, the weather then being fine and clear. Bosun was in charge of Bridge (took over from the Mate at 1.30 am) with third hand with him on Bridge. The Bosun at the wheel and had just taken same over from the third hand about 4.25 am when Bosun observed a green light and two mast head lights on starboard bow distant about two miles. The other vessel was heading (in Bosun's opinion) East by South and THOMAS BOOTH maintained course and speed as the other vessel was going in an opposite direction.
Shortly after, Bosun first observed other vessel. She appeared to be closing a little bit on them and THOMAS BOOTH therefore starboarded his helm a little. The other vessel was still showing the same lights up to this time. Just before he got up in line with us his red light opened up practically full and I put my helm hard a starboard but kept engines the same speed. When the other vessel was distant about a ship's length from us he gave one short blast and his head went to starboard (my opinion being that he tried to cross our bows, and when he found that he could not do this he starboarded his helm) and he then struck us on our starboard side of the engine room. The force of the blow threw Captain McDonald out of his bunk in his cabin which is under the Bridge amidships. The Captain at once went on the bridge, stopped engines and gave Bosun orders to get a sail up from locker at once for a collision mat. This was done and all hands got to work at once. When the blow had been received the other vessel went off across our stern and we did not take any notice of him for a time as we were too much engaged seeing to our damage. We got our collision mat over the damaged part and I went below to examine damage in engine room and found we were making water but could keep same under and Captain then went on bridge and ordered full speed for Milford.
After steaming for about five minutes, Captain saw the other vessel steaming slow towards them. We eased down and we hailed one another. I asked him for his name. He replied as far as I could understand, Foynes or Foydes of Limerick. He then asked me, "Have we done much damage?". I replied, "Yes, a lot of damage but as far as I could see it was all above the water line." He then asked, "Do you want any assistance?" I replied, "No I think we can manage to get home." He asked me for name of our vessel. I gave him this. He also asked number of our vessel and I heard him repeat LO 229. I headed for home about an hour after the collision and the other vessel was heading practically the same. He was close to us when we started for home and he was about 4 to 5 miles away when we lost him off the Smalls.
Statement by Clarence Victor Denton, 124 Lichfield Road, Southtown, Great Yarmouth, [who] has been living on board THOMAS BOOTH but now staying at The Bethel:
I am third hand of the Steam Trawler THOMAS BOOTH. I joined her in February last as Decky and I have been Third hand the last two trips. I have been engaged in deep sea trawling for the last three years.
We left the Milford Docks on Thursday afternoon last bound for the fishing grounds. The Bosun and myself went on watch at 1.30 next morning (Friday. The Bosun took the wheel then and I was on the look out through the windows (which were all down) of the Bridge. At 4.25 am (by the clock on the bridge) the Bosun being then at the wheel - we both of us observed a green light and two mast headlights (the green was a "good" light and the two white lights were both open). Our course was then West by North.
We kept these lights closely under observation, and about five minutes after we first observed them I saw his two white lights open more and closing his green a little. The Bosun and myself watched his movements closely and our helm was starboarded a little bringing our head to West South West. The other vessel kept showing us these lights for about a minute and he appeared to me to be porting his helm because we kept pulling a spoke or two on our wheel to starboard and
yet he appeared to be closing in on us until he got within about a ship's length of us when we put our wheel hard to starboard and as this was done I left the Bridge to call all hands as I could see there was going to be a collision and as I got down from the Bridge (on our starboard side) I heard the other vessel give one short blast and
I then saw his two white lights in line with one another and his red light (not a full light) and green was then closed. I should say it was about a couple of minutes from the time I heard the short blast until the crash came. I had been aft and was going for'd when the other vessel struck us. He struck us practically a stem blow on our starboard side abreast of the engine room skylight and it seemed to me that his engines were going the whole time as he struck us a good blow and kept his head well into us along our starboard quarter and he appeared to be continuing strong past our stern and his engines (in my opinion) were not stopped or going astern. There had been a drizzly rain off and on from about 2 am but it cleared off a little about 3.30 am and the visibility was good from then onwards. There was drizzly rain, not so bad as we had earlier in the morning but it did not obstruct the visibility as we could see the other vessels lights distinctly. Our lights were burning brightly the whole time and I extinguished all lights at 7.30 am. The lights were good and the glasses clear.
I assisted in getting the collision mat over our starboard side and we started for Milford about 5.45 am. The Bosun and I were on watch on the bridge and I was at the wheel. Our Skipper was on the bridge with us and we had been steaming and about five minutes when we observed the other vessel. She looked to us to be lying to. We gave a blast with our whistle and he gave a blast with his whistle. We closed in on him to take his name and where he belonged and I heard someone ask from the other vessel "Have we done much damage". Our Skipper replied "Yes, we are making water". We were then asked if we needed assistance and our Skipper replied that he thought we could manage without assistance. We looked for her name but could not see any. The other vessel's topsides were painted white and she had a black funnel (about amidships) with a narrow white band about half way down the funnel. Our Skipper asked for her name - "Foyde" we thought was given, of Limerick. We were not sure of this and our Skipper asked them to spell the name but this did not help matters. They asked for the name of our ship and this was given and I heard some one on the other vessel repeat our official number LO 229.
Shortly after we proceeded for Milford and the other vessel steamed with us as far as the Smalls.
Supplementary statement by Clarence Victor Denton:
I calculate that the vessel was from 2 to 3 miles away from us when I first saw her. I was in the act of changing over with the Bosun. He was taking the wheel himself when I first observed the "Foynes" lights. I drew the Bosun's attention to the lights at once.
We put the THOMAS BOOTH on a West by North Course abreast of the Smalls and remained on that course.
Between 3 or 4 o'clock we passed two other vessels. Between those hours a slight drizzling rain came on and interfered with our visibility though not to any appreciable extent.
We had 2 of the windows on our port side closed but all the windows in the front and on the starboard (or lee) side were open.
I could see the "Foynes" from my position at the wheel. I never lost sight of her. When I first saw the "Foynes" she was 4 points on our starboard
bow. I should think that about 3/4 hour passed between the time we first saw the lights of the Foynes and the time of the collision.
It is just possible a sea may have struck the "Foynes" just before the collision and caused her to go to starboard, and the man at the wheel might have carried on with his starboard steering in the hope of clearing us.
When she gave us the one short blast I am very nearly sure that she was on her starboard helm.
In my opinion, and as far as my judgement leads me to believe the "Foynes" engines were at the actual moment of collision either stopped or reversed. I think it was bound to be one or the other, as otherwise the damage which she caused to us would have been greater.
Statement by John Llewellyn of No.2 Church Street, Narberth.
I am Second Engineer of the THOMAS BOOTH and have been in the vessel as such for the last ten voyages.
I went on duty at 1.30 on Friday morning, May 19th with the fireman - Davies. We were averaging up to the time of the collision about 82/84 revolutions, vessel going about 7 Knots.
There was no signal to me from the Bridge either by Telegraph or Tube before the collision and I heard no whistle blown by us up to the collision. I was on deck at about 4.15 am. I was standing by the galley door on our starboard side for a few seconds having a cup of tea. I saw a green light and two mast head lights of a vessel
heading (in my opinion) for our starboard quarter. She was some distance off but her lights were showing quite clear. We had the blow between 4.35 am and 4.40 am by the engine room clock. The blow was very severe and threw our ship right over and threw me off my feet. The blow caused a number of rivets in the plates of the engine room to burst off. Within a few seconds after we had the blow I had orders by telegraph to stop the engines. A few moments after that I had orders for full speed ahead. Then within a few moments I had orders to Stop. The Skipper and Chief Engineer then came down into the engine room and I told them that we were leaking badly.
I was not out of the engine room except the time referred to until I went off watch at 7.30 am.
Statement by Morgan Watkin Howell:
I live at Havenhurst, Milford Haven and am a Shipowner and Marine Surveyor and Consulting Engineer. In May last I inspected both the FOYNES and the THOMAS BOOTH.
I am of the opinion, following my inspection of the damage caused to the two vessels that at the moment of impact the Foynes must have been in motion. The damage would not have been anything like as heavy if the engines of the Foynes had been stopped.
The Foynes must in my view have been making headway for the reason that a length of about 6 feet of the starboard quarter of the THOMAS BOOTH aft of the point of impact showed signs of having been rubbed along or scraped by the Foynes. The angle of the blow was between 70 and 75 degrees. As a result of the collision the bow of the Foynes was badly set to starboard.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 13th June 1945:
This morning (Friday), the s/t "Thomas Booth" landed a record catch at Milford - 910 kits after seven days' fishing. The usual landing after a fortnight's fishing is between 600 and 700 kits.
The "Thomas Booth" is owned by Milford Fisheries, skipper, Mr. Walter Perry.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 18th January 1946:
In the second part of the New Years Honours List the name of a Milford man, Mr George Cook, 2, Greville Road, who received the B.E.M. (Civil Division). Mr Cook was serving on the steam trawler "Thomas Booth" as a deck hand for the past six years, and was on her when she was repeatedly machine-gunned by German planes.
From an unknown local newspaper dated c. 24th January 1946:
THE STORY OF THE "THOMAS BOOTH"
MILFORD'S MOST FAMOUS WAR-TIME TRAWLER
Enemy Attacks . . But Kept on Fishing
The names of three members of one of the most famous of Milford trawlers, the "Thomas Booth", figure in the New Years Honours list. B.E.M.s have been awarded to George Fred Stammers, 205, Priory Road, Milford Haven (mate), Samuel Harrison,14, North Sreet, Haverfordwest (chief engineer), and George Cook, 21, Greville Road, Milford Haven ((deckhand).
The awards are for "consistent devotion to duty and bravery in the face of enemy air attack". Behind the "Thomas Booth" lies one of the port's most interesting war stories. Skippered by a well known Milford man, Mr Robert Limbrick, the boat has fished right through the hard days of war in the face of enemy air attack, submarines and mines, and the seaman's oldest foe - the weather. The crew today, with one or two changes, is the same as when she set out on her first war time trip.
THE STORY OF ONE ATTACK
"The Booth" was attacked on three occasions by enemy aircraft, put up a determined fight, shot an aircraft down and returned to Milford proudly with her flag flying and her deck spattered and chipped by machine gunning. We give now the skipper's report of one attack in 1941. With typical reserve, he says nothing of his part in the action:
"Whilst fishing 18 miles south of the Old Head of Kinsale, my ship, s.t.Thomas Booth, on November 2nd, at six o'clock p.m., was attacked by two German bombers. I hauled my gear, but had to cut one full trawl of fish and bridles, for better manoevuring. The planes circled around the vessel, then started to machine gun us the first time. The second time they circled, they machine gunned and dropped bombs on starboard side approximately 80 yards away. They circled a third time and started gunning and dropped bombs very close on the port side, shaking the vessel terribly. During the whole time my mate was on the forecastle head firing at them, showing great courage and bravery. No praise can be too great for him and the engineers, who handled the engines with great promptness. I was circling round and round during the whole time of the attack, which lasted until 6.40, when they flew away to the westward. All the crew acted and obeyed all my orders."
Behind this simple and straightforward statement lie many tense moments and the grim, dogged spirit characteristic of the Milford fishermen.
ALWAYS AT SEA
Besides setting up a record for an indivIdual trip by landing 912 kits of fish, the "Thomas Booth" has landed more fish to fill Britain's depleted larders,
than any trawler fishing from the port during the war. She has always put to sea according to schedule and always brought back her catch.
The catch has not always been of the orthodox kind. On one occasion the sea gave up to the "Thomas Booth" an unexploded aerial torpedo, then still on the secret list. Had the torpedo happened to fall from the nets on to the bare deck, the "'Thomas Booth" and her gallant crew would have been no more. The torpedo, however, came down on to the fish, which acted as a cushion and averted a tragedy.
Now, after years of unrelenting service, the "Thomas Booth" is undergoing her first major overhaul for over six years. She will be in dock for over two months. Then it will be "Heigh ho for the open sea".
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 5th May 1950:
MORE TRAWLERS TIED UP
Four trawlers, half the Milford Fisheries fleet, has been laid up this week because of prevailing uneconomic conditions. They are the Thomas Booth, Craig an Eran, Cloughstone, and Peter Carey. The total number of trawlers now laid up at Milford is 24, or a third of the port's fleet. Some are undergoing repairs, but most have been tied up because it has been found uneconomical to run them.
In this connection, here is an extract from a letter received at Milford this week from a London firm of merchants: "Our market at the moment is loaded with Danish plaice at the prices quoted above, and it is selling very slowly." The prices given were well below control prices.
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 28th December 1951:
Not for many years have the after Christmas sailings been interrupted at Milford as they were on Thursday and today. Nearly a score of boats left the dock at 3 a.m. on Thursday to lie out in the stream ready for the crews to come aboard at 9 a.m. Came 9 a.m. and none of the crews could be ferried out to the waiting trawlers sheltering from Chapel Bay up to Burton Reaches from the ravages of one of the worst December gales in memory, with agust of 92 miles an hour recorded at St. Ann's Head at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Trawlers were dragging their anchor the length and breadth of the harbour, and several had to keep steaming from the time they left the dock at 3 a.m. until all steamed back in on Thursday's afternoon tide. With spray blotting out the masts of a number of boats, it was impossible for a tender to reach them, and the skeleton crews who had taken the trawlers out and been in action all day described conditions as devilish when they stepped ashore again late in the afternoon. Last night there were approximately trawlers in dock, ready to leave for the fishing grounds.
Meanwhile, only six of the port's fleet are still at sea: the Sea Hunter expected this weekend, the Nolton and Steynton (pair), George Hastings and Thomas Booth, due about the 20th, and the Dagon on January 5th.
Ashore, apart from minor incidents in the way of loosened tiles and broken panes, there was comparatively little damage. Winds were well below the maximum on record, 113 miles per hour at St. Ann's Head on January 18th, 1945
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 18th January 1952:
"DUKE" AT THE TOP AGAIN
After two years as "runners-up", Skipper Albert Saunders and the "Milford Duke" are once again in top place in the Milford fishing "league". In 1951 Skipper Saunders caught a greater value of fish than any other individual trawler captain in the port.
Second in the league on last year's results is Skipper W. Burgoyne, who has moved up a place, closely followed by Skipper Steve Pembroke, who was sixth in the list of 1949 catches. "Crack" Skipper for 1948 and 1949, Skipper Tom Donovan, D.S.C., is a close fifth in results while consistent Skipper James Jobson again occupies fourth position.
Here are the leading positions, the ships being classed according to size.
Capt. Kettle has done it again! In 1949 Skipper Bob Kettle was runner-up in the Castle boats; in 1950 he topped the list and his catches in 1951 gave him a winning lead over steady Skipper George Knight, who took the Lephreto into second place for the second year running. Two captains who have moved up in the "table" are Skippers Gue and Lawrence.
1. Richard Crofts (Bob Kettle), Mr. W. Wilcox.
2. Lephreto (Geo. Knight), Messrs. Jenkerson.
3. Thomas Leeds (Harry Gue), Mr. H. Westonborg.
4. Alexander Scott (J. Lawrence); 5, Their Merit (Jeff Tucker); 6, Settsu (Norman Brown); 7, T. Booth (late Skipper R. W. Limbrick); 8. W. Bunce (W. R. Robertson); 9, Milford King (Albert Beckett)[sic]; 10, Sea Hunter (J. McLelland).
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 17th July 1953:
The all ex-naval crew of the Milford trawler "Thomas Booth" had a nasty shock on Sunday. Skipper Jack Clarke had been directing fishing operations in the South Minch and the laden net was swung aboard ready for the cod-end to be opened, and for the stream of fish to pour onto the deck. A heavy object noted in the trawl was thought to be a stone, but as Bosun E. H. Hover, Dartmouth Gardens, loosened the cod-end he yelled, "A mine!" as the missile slithered to the deck in a pile of fish.
Skipper Clarke made immediately for Tobermorey, but nothing could be done there and he was directed to Oban, where a Mine Disposal Unit came aboard to put the mine safe. They pronounced that the mine was "one of ours", a late type of anti submarine missile containing practically three hundredweight of high explosives, and they informed the skipper that the detonator and primer was still active and, had an attempt been made to put the mine overboard, it is more likely that it would have exploded.
L to R, Back row: Deckhands Gene Bakunowicz (151 Charles Street, Milford), John Phillips (13 Priory Avenue, Haverfordwest), Glyn Setterfield (Shakespeare Avenue, Milford) and Fireman Fred Potter (80 Glebelands, Hakin)
Front row: Bosun Charlie Thomas (Edward Street, Milford), Fireman W.J. Nicholas (Hazelbeach), Deckhand W. Leggett (35 James Street, Neyland), 2nd Eng. H. Warlow (60 Priory Road, Milford), Mate H. Roberts (34 Stratford Road, Milford), Skipper Albert Seeling (Edward Street, Milford), Ch.Eng. Billy Harness(Pill, Milford), and Cook Fred Szydlowski (Llanreath Road, Pembroke Dock; an ex Polish Army officer)
Taken for the West Wales Guardian of Friday 22nd October 1954
John Stevenson Collection
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 14th January 1955:
The Milford Fisheries trawler Thomas Booth is to be broken up at Ward's Yard, Castle Pill. She was built at Beverley, Yorkshire in 1918.
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