John Stevenson Collection

Official No:  140785            Port and Year: Grimsby, 1919 (GY309)

                                                                         Fleetwood, 1922 (FD405)

                                                                         London, 1928 (LO122)

Description: Castle Class steel side trawler, steam screw, coal burning. Ketch rigged.

Crew:  14 men (1919); 12 men (1928)

Built: 1919, by Cook, Welton & Gemmell, Beverley.  (Yard no. 404)

Tonnage: 209 grt 126 net.

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

Engine: T.3-Cyl; 87 rhp; by Amos & Smith, Hull.



5 May 1919:  Henry Smethurst, Grimsby.

Manager:  John Wintringham Smethurst.


9 Feb 1920: Derby Steam Trawling Co., Bootle, Liverpool.

Manager: Charles W. Pickering, Fleetwood. (12 May 1920)


24 Oct 1921: Harry Pennington & Thomas George McKay.

Manager: Jules Nierinck  (4 Nov 1921)


19 Dec 1921: The Godby Steam Fishing Co., Fleetwood.

Manager: Jules Nierinck. (5 Jan 1922)

29 Mar 1922: As FD405


11 Dec 1924: Neva Steam Trawler Co., Fleetwood
William W. Brierley.

10 Feb 1925: As CISNELL



Mar 1928: Jenkerson & Jones, Docks, Milford

Manager: Thomas Jenkerson.


Landed at Milford:  25 Feb 1928 - 30 Jan 1940

Skippers: Thomas Donovan (1928); James Gale (1940)


Philip Godby, age 43, born Cricklade; A.B., HMS VICTORY at Trafalgar.

24 Sep 1919: Launched as PHILIP GODBY for the Admiralty (no. 3783), but completed as a fishing vessel.

1919: Sold to mercantile.

2 Sep 1939: Requisitioned by the Admiralty for conversion to a minesweeper but returned 13 Nov.

11 Feb 1940: Shelled by U-37 (Kapitän zur See Werner Hartmann) off West coast of Ireland, and sunk in approx position 50.40N 11.02W. One crewman lost. After twenty-eight hours in the boat with three badly injured, all eleven picked up by Spanish steamer MONTE NAVAJO.

13 Feb 1940: Landed at Irish port, and returned to Milford.  [See newspaper articles and detailed reports below.]

[Information supplied by the Fleetwood Maritime Heritage Trust and the Bosun's Watch website; with further detailed information from Gil Mayes and Bill Blow.]

Accidents and Incidents

Transcription of a legal judgement, dated 5th November 1928, in the Les Jones Archive.




We have taken statements in the matter from the Skippers and Mates of the respective vessels. The statement of the Skipper and Mate of the Mansfield is as follows.―

    The Mansfield had been lying at anchor about 4 or 5 ship's lengths south of the eastern most buoy and just out side the eastern edge of the entrance channel. The  Mansfield raised her anchor and proceeded by the S.T. Caliban moved slowly ahead in a direct course to a point in mid channel about one ships length south of the buoys.  On reaching that spot the Mansfield was obliged to stop for the reason that the Caliban had also stopped owing to the Dock entering lights not having yet been raised. The Caliban was at the head of the line of vessels entering the docks, and the Mansfield came next. About five minutes after the Mansfield had been stopped and whilst he was lying stationary in the water a vessel which subsequently proved to be the Togimo  was observed distant about a ship's length away bearing from the westward towards the Mansfield  at about half speed and on the helm which was fetching his head to port. The Mansfield blew a warning blast on his whistle but the Togimo  continued on her course eventually colliding with the Mansfield, the starboard bow of the Togimo meeting the port bow of the Mansfield and hitting the latter's stem over to starboard.  After the impact the Togimo eventually came to rest on the port side of the Mansfield with the Togimo's bow about half a ship's length in front of that of the Mansfield.  At the moment of the collision the Togimo's  telegraph was overheard to ring.  One of two fenders placed over the bow of the Mansfield was cut in two. The bos'un of the Mansfield remarked to the bos'un of the Togimo after the collision, "See what you have done," the reply being, "That is nothing".

    It is stated that the Togimo was well clear of the other trawlers (about 16 in all) entering dock that night and that there was consequently no other vessel hampering her movements. It is also stated that the Mansfield could not have gone astern owing to the fact of the Capstone  being astern of him and that it was subsequent to the collision between the Mansfield and the Togimo that the later vessel and the Capstone came into contact.

    It is considered that if the Togimo had, as she might have done, gone astern on his engines when the Mansfield blew the warning whistle, the c0llision would not have occurred, and that if the Togimo had stopped his engines only, the probability is that the fenders put out by the Mansfield would have obviated much of, if not all the damage. No orders to the Togimo came from the deck hand prior to the collision and the entering lights had not been put up when the collision occurred.


    The evidence of the Skipper and Mate of the Togimo is as follows:―

    On the night of the 24th July last, the Togimo which had been lying   anchored in about the centre of the entrance channel and some half a dozen ship's lengths to the southward of the buoys, raised his anchor and proceeded slowly towards the buoys. In doing so the Togimo passed to the westward of the Mansfield and at a distance of about two ship's lengths, the Mansfield being then in the entrance channel some four or five ships south of the buoys and being in the act of lifting his anchor. After raising his anchor the Mansfield lay on the south east side of the Togimo, distant about one ship's length, the two vessels being at this time still about three ship's lengths south of the buoys.  The Mansfield was next seen after the Togimo had proceeded slowly in towards the buoys and had reached a spot about mid-channel and just outside the buoys.  The Mansfield was at that time observed lying stationary inside the buoys distant about a ship's length and on the starboard bow of the Togimo .The Capstone was at this time lying on the port side of the Togimo. The lights at the entrance then went up and orders were given from the dock head to the Togimo  by name to come ahead.  The Togimo  was accompanied by the Capstone  which by keeping in actual contact against the port side of the Togimo  drove the latter in the direction of the Mansfield.  When the Togimo,  as the result of being so driven by the Capstone, was close alongside the Mansfield, the Capstone stopped his engines to prevent him going further ahead, and to permit the Togimo  to go ahead.  The Togimo  thereby got clear of the Capstone but realizing that a collision was then inevitable, the Togimo  starboarded his helm in an effort to clear the Mansfield with his bow.   A matter of seconds later the two vessels (Mansfield & Togimo) came into collision, the after starboard gallows of the Togimo  striking the Mansfield on her port bow.


It is stated that had not the Capstone acted in the manner described, the Togimo  would very likely have been able to clear the Mansfield.   Mention was made of the fact that the Mansfield was three times ordered from the dock head to go astern from inside to outside the buoys, all of which orders she ignored, and that owing to her disobedience of those orders she on arrival in dock was not allowed to berth alongside the market. Those orders were however all said to have been given before the order to come ahead was given to the Togimo. It is not contended that, whilst the Togimo was in course of executing the movement which culminated in the collision, she, the Mansfield altered her position.


We have considered the evidence in this case and have also compared the evidence given to us with that contained in the reports made to the respective owners. In this connection it is significant that the reports made by the skipper of the Togimo  contains no reference to any order from the dock head to the Togimo  to come ahead or to any hampering of the movements of the Togimo  by the action of the Capstone, and the report further includes an allegation that "the Mansfield tried to come ahead under my lee", (that is, under the lee of the Togimo ), which allegation is not reconcilable with the evidence given to us on that particular point by those connected with the Togimo.


After hearing all of the evidence we have come to the conclusion that the evidence given to us by those connected with the Mansfield must be accepted as correct and we hold that the collision was caused solely by the negligence of those on board the Togimo ,


The two owners:  Messrs. Ritchie & Davies;  Messrs. Jenkerson & Jones


Togimo: -  Skipper Thomas Donovan; Mate A. A. Davies,


Mansfield ­ ?



Transcription of a legal judgement, dated 22nd November 1928, in the Les Jones Archive:




    The Togimo  is claiming that she on the night of the 24th, July last sustained damage in collision with the Michael Griffiths caused entirely by the negligence of those on board the latter vessel.  The Michael Griffiths is stated not to have suffered any damage.  We have taken statements from the Skippers and Mates of the two vessels, as well as from the Skipper of the Our Bairns.  We have also had before us copies of the reports made by the Skippers to their respective owners, a copy of the surveyors report following an inspection of the Togimo and the correspondence which has passed between the respective owners.


    The evidence of the Skipper and Mate of the Togimo  is as follows.­

    At about 10.15 p.m. on the 24th July last, the Togimo, which had been lying at anchor about 1000 yards to the southward of the entrance channel buoys, raised his anchor and proceeded at slow speed towards the channel, passing the Michael Griffiths on his starboard side, at a distant about one ships length, the Michael Griffiths being at that time stopped and heading north north west, but drifting in an easterly direction under the influence of wind and tide.  After reaching a spot distant about one ships length ahead, and on the port bow of the Michael Griffiths, the Togimo's engines were stopped. the dock gates not having been yet opened. The Michael Griffiths then came ahead and touched the Togimo, the stem of the Michael Griffiths striking the centre of the stern of the Togimo  an "end on blow". No damage was caused to the Togimo as a result of that impact. Immediately prior to that impact the engines of the Michael Griffiths had been put ahead, but at the moment when the two vessels came into contact they had been stopped. In order to avoid further collision, the engines of the Togimo were rung ahead with a slight port helm, the idea of the Togimo's Skipper being to place the Michael Griffiths  on his starboard quarter.  The Togimo so went ahead for about 15 feet when his engines were again stopped.

    In the meanwhile the engines of the Michael Griffiths had also been rung ahead, the result being that when the engines of the Togimo were stopped as stated, the Michael Griffiths was on the starboard quarter, about 10 feet from the Togimo .The Michael Griffiths  then blew three blasts and went astern bringing him abaft the starboard beam of the Togimo .Some five minutes later, the engines on the Togimo  being at stop, the Michael Griffiths, without any warning came ahead, the port bow of the Michael Griffiths striking the Togimo on the starboard beam. The Michael Griffiths kept his engines going ahead, crept along the side of the Togimo,  eventually crossed the Togimo's  bow and went away clear of him.

    The Skipper of the Our Bairns states that when he first saw the two vessels they were both under way but with engines stopped, both were in the channel and heading for the westernmost entrance buoy, the Togimo  being about two ships lengths to the south eastward of the buoy, and the Michael Griffiths being abreast on the starboard side of the Togimo , and about one ships length distant from him. At that time the Our Bairns  was about a ships length astern of the Michael Griffiths. The first movement  was on the part of the Togimo, which went ahead in the direction of the westernmost buoy, a distance of about half a ships length, and then stopped. The Togimo remained stopped for about ten minutes, during which period the Michael Griffiths, for the purpose of getting into position for the dock, first of all came ahead with his head well westerly, getting rather close to the Togimo , but not it is believed touching him, and then in order to get clear of the Togimo, and into position, the Michael Griffiths  went astern, and later came ahead again.  In the course of the latter movement the two vessels came into contact, the bluff of the port bow of the Michael Griffiths meeting the rail just forward of the bridge of the Togimo.  The Michael Griffiths  scraped alongside of the Togimo, and went ahead of him.  All the above movements of the  Michael Griffiths took place whilst the Togimo was stationary.  At the time of the collision the Our Bairns was lying to, on the Michael Griffiths'  port quarter, distant about one ships length.  The movements of the two vessels were proceeded by the appropriate signals.  The wind and tide

had a tendency though slight to drive the Togimo in a easterly direction.  

    According to the Skipper and Mate of the Michael Griffiths, that vessel on the night in question, after lying at anchor with the Michael Griffiths  raised her anchor.   The Togimo  was on her port quarter, distant about a cable and half away.  There  were about twenty others vessels making their  way slowly in to wards the dock entrance, the Michael Griffiths being in about the centre of the channel, and eventually reaching a spot just out side the buoys where he lay stopped.  In the course of the closing in, the Michael Griffiths was from time to time put ahead and astern, as the occasion required, in order to counteract the influence of a north west wind, and to keep her square for the entrance.   When the Michael Griffiths  was stopped, the Togimo  was coming ahead on the Michael Griffiths starboard quarter, distant about 40 feet.  The Togimo continued to come ahead, and crossed the bows of the Michael Griffiths at very close quarters, but without actually touching him. The Togimo carried on until his stern was clear of the bows of the Michael Griffiths.  She then came astern, the action of her propeller throwing the Togimo's head to starboard.

    The Togimo continued to move backwards and forwards on the port bow of the Michael Griffiths until she squared herself up for the entrance, and the Togimo then came astern to a position immediately abreast of, and close to the port side of the Michael Griffiths .The influence of the tide then caused the Togimo to move in towards the Michael Griffiths, and the vessels finally lay touching, and abreast of one another.

    During the  whole of the above movements of the two vessels, the Michael Griffiths   remained stopped. Owing to another vessel, the Caliban, coming astern, it then became necessary for the Togimo to go astern, which he did.  At the same time as the Togimo went astern, the Michael Griffiths  came slowly ahead at the same time moving to port.  After proceeding until the stern of the Michael Griffiths was well clear of the Togimo , the Michael Griffiths went astern, again his bows moving over to starboard, the Togimo  being at that time on the starboard quarter of the Michael Griffiths, and distant about one ship's length. The only time when the two vessels came into contact was when, as already described, they were abreast of and touching one another. As the vessels came together, the mate of the Michael Griffiths put out a fender.  This fender was not damaged and is still in use.  There was nothing in the nature of a blow, and the slow speed at which, owing to the congestion, the various ships were moving, was such as to render it impossible to them, to do damage to one.

    The allegation of the Togimo is that she was run into and damaged by the Michael Griffiths  under circumstances for which the Michael Griffiths is alone at fault.  The Michael Griffiths contends that the Togimo placed herself in such a position in reference to the  Michael Griffiths as to result in the  wind and tide  bringing her into contact with the Michael Griffiths; that the impact was so slight as to render it impossible for any damage to have been caused to the Togimo, that no such damage was in fact occasioned, and that the Michael Griffiths was in no way to blame for the impact.

    The Togimo is in this case in the position of a plaintiff, and it is incumbent on her therefore to prove negligence on the part of those on board the Michael Griffiths resulting in damage to the Togimo, and we find that, supported as her evidence is by the Skipper of the Our Bairns, the Togimo has discharged that onus.  We further find that there was no negligence on the part of those on board the Togimo.


    We accordingly hold that damage was caused to the Togimo on the occasion in question by reason of a collision with the Michael Griffiths, and that the blame for such collision lies solely with the Michael Griffiths.


Skipper of the Togimo:- Thomas Donovan. Mate: A. A. Davies.

Skipper of the Michael Griffiths - J. Gardener. Mate: ? Thomas.



The Times, Wednesday, Feb 14, 1940; pg. 3; Issue 48539; col G



    After 28 hours in an open boat, 11 of the crew of the British trawler Togimo, all suffering from exposure and with three seriously injured, were landed at a port on the south-east coast of Eire early yesterday.  Their trawler, which was of 290 tons and registered at London, was sunk by a U-boat which shelled them and killed one of the crew.  Before they were picked up by a Spanish steamer the men had to exist on a ration of one biscuit and a few spoonfuls of water.

    The captain, James Gale, of Milford Haven, said that the U-boat's first shot was at 500 yards range.  He extinguished all lights and tried to dash for safety, but the next shot hit the chart house and set it on fire, making an easy target in the darkness.  About 20 more shots were fired, continuing while the men were getting into their boats.



Transcription of a local newspaper article, probably the West Wales Guardian of Friday 16th February 1940.


    After a twenty eight hours ordeal in an open boat, eleven of the crew of the Milford s.t. "Togimo", all suffering from exposure, and with three seriously injured, were landed at a port on the south eastern coast of Eire on Tuesday. Their trawler was sunk by a German submarine, which shelled them and killed one of the crew, James Price, eighteen years of age [...] from Kildare, the only Irishman in the crew. The injured members of the crew are William Percival Hawkes, (deckhand) arm fractured, William Hengley, (chief engineer) shrapnel wounds and Henry Jones, shrapnel wounds. Hawkes had his right hand amputated on Tuesday. Before they were picked up by the Spanish steamer "Monte Navajo", the crew had to exist on a ration of one ship's biscuit and a few teaspoons of water.

    She is the first Milford trawler to be lost actually fishing out of the port. The skipper is Mr James Gale of Hakin. Some of the crews names - boatswain Charles Owen, Warwick Rd., A. John, Dartmouth St, H. Taylor, Prescelly Place, (cook).  These are Milford men. Also on board were two Lowestoft men, Chapman and Hawkes.



From another transcription of a local newspaper article in the following week:


    Fireman Bryn Jones, Cherry Grove, Solva, arrived home on Saturday after his harrowing experience as the result of the sinking of the "Togimo". He said that he only managed to get an overcoat thrown over his underclothes, and thus clad he had to endure the biting cold for twenty four hours in an open boat. The little water that had been saved was quite black and cold and could not be drunk. After being rescued by the Spanish steamer "Monte Navajo", they were given a bucket full of steaming hot coffee between them and a chunk of dry bread, but it was the best feed that they had ever enjoyed. Bryn is none the worse for his terrible ordeal. His friend Willie Prickett had a shrapnel wound in his hand and was detained in hospital.



From ADM 199 [?]/142G-142H in the National Archives, supplied by Roger Griffiths, via Gil Mayes:








                                                16th February, 1940.



            The following report of the sinking of the Steam trawler "Togimo" by gunfire at 0500 on Sunday, 11th February. 1940, in position 50º 40' North 11º 2' West, was given by Skipper James Gale, D.S.C., of the above vessel, the the Intelligence Officer on my Staff today, Friday, 16th February, 1940.

 2.        At 0400 11th February "TOGIMO" had hauled Trawl and owing to damage to nets and gear they started to change gear from one side of the ship to the other.  All hands were on deck except the Engineman and Fireman off duty and the Cook.  No Navigation Lights were burning, but the Working Lights were on.  "TOGIMO" was lying stopped heading West.  Weather:- fine, light Southerly breeze, clear starry night but pitch dark.

3.        By 0500 they were ready to shoot Trawl, so the Skipper went to the Bridge and turned ship round to head East, and then went down below to the Echo Sounding machine to get the depth.  When halfway down ladder he heard a bang and thought he had left the Wheelhouse door open, so he returned on deck with the intention of closing it.  On arriving on deck he heard the Mate shouting to someone to stop the Dynamo, and he realised then that the "Bang" must have been a gun firing.  Men on deck said they had seen the flash and one man said that the shell had hit the mast, but the Skipper disagrees with that and thinks it missed.  The Skipper threw over the Main Switch and stopped the Dynamo, putting the ship in darkness, but instantly a second shell, following a flash about 500 yards off broad on the starboard beam, hit the Chart Room and set it ablaze.

4.        "TOGIMO" was now clearly visible in her own flames, and the Skipper ordered the ship to be abandoned.  When the boat was being got out the U-boat circled round closing the range and firing steadily.  The shots were coming in salvoes of two, both of equal calibre, which the Skipper, who went through the last War in Minesweepers, states was at least 4-inch.  The report alone shook the ship.

            All hands got into the boat, leaving one man killed on board, and then the U-boat fired from a range of 150 yards at the boat, wounding the Chief Engineer in the stern sheets.  By this time "TOGIMO" was burning furiously.  Painter was then cut and boat was pulled astern and in a minute or two "TOGIMO" sank.

            The U-boat then circled once around the boat and then disappeared.  It was too dark to distinguish any details but its colour appeared to be light grey.

5.            The Skipper waited till daylight and then set a course for the Fastnet.  They pulled all Sunday, sighting nothing till after dark and then only Trawlers who made off after darkening ship whenever they saw the Red Distress Flares.  (Popular report here has it that U-boats burn Red Flares or lights sometimes at night).

            The wind strengthened and the men became exhausted so they lay-to till dawn, and the(n), when proceeding to rig a sea-anchor, they were sighted by the Spanish steamer "MONTE NAVAJO" of Bilboa [sic] and taken into the harbour of Queenstown.

        They were treated very well at Queenstown, and public feeling was definitely anti-German.



From ADM 199 [?] /142C-142F in the National Archives, supplied by Roger Griffiths, via Gil Mayes:







                                                            6th March, 1940




            We sailed from Milford Haven at noon on Friday 1st March, bound for the fishing grounds.  The colour of our hull was black, superstructure French grey, and funnel black with a white band and a red Maltese Cross.  We were not flying an ensign.  The ship was unarmed, and we were fitted with a "Spark" wireless.  The crew, including myself, numbered 12, of whom one man was killed, another seriously wounded, two others badly injured by shrapnel and several others sustained minor injuries.

            Nothing of importance occurred until Sunday, 11th February.  At 4 a.m. on this Sunday morning we hauled up our port trawl.  There was a light wind from the South, with a heavy S.W. ground swell.  It was pitch dark but beautifully clear.  We had our deck lights on, but no navigation lights.  When we hauled our trawl, the net was torn, so we had to change over to shoot the starboard trawl.  We had a little job to do with this starboard net and were a little longer than usual in getting our gear away.  After we were all ready to put our net away, I went on the bridge to turn my ship round on the other tack.  At the time we hauled we lay with our head to the West, and I turned the ship with her head to the East, now having the wind on her starboard side.

            Our position was now 50º 40' N. 11º W., about 70 miles from the Fastnet, and the time was 5 a.m.  I was going down to take a sounding with the aquameter when I heard a report.  Thinking that I had left the wheelhouse door open and that it had banged, I dashed on deck again and heard the 2nd Hand shout "Stop the dynamo", so I threw my arm on the switchboard and put out all the lights I could, at the same time ringing full speed ahead, thinking we could get away in the dark.  The Mate dashed on the bridge and said to me "Skipper, I believe there is a submarine".  I replied "There is no doubt about that".  He asked me how we were steering, so I took the wheel and said "We will steer for that star", because after I stopped the dynamo there was no light on the binnacle.      

             About 5 minutes after the report of the first shell, which may  or may not have been a warning shot, I saw a flash on the starboard side and the report of a gun.  The next flash the shell hit the chartroom right under the wheelhouse.  We were smothered in cordite, the wheelhouse windows were smashed, the back of the wall was blown away and the door left hanging on one hinge.  The Wireless Operator came up and I told him to send out S.O.S.  He looked down and then said "I cannot get down there, the steps are blown away, and the ship is blazing".

            The Mate jumped out of the wheelhouse through the broken window and shouted to the men to start the "Donkey".  I rushed to the telegraph to stop the ship, also giving orders to get the boat out, as I knew it was useless to attempt to go any further.  The telegraph was jammed, so I shouted down to tell them to stop the engines.  The submarine was continually shelling us all this time, in salvos of two, as if 2 guns were in action, with a pause between the salvos while they loaded.  When the first shell was fired we had our lights on, so he had been able to get the range and even when the lights were turned out it was impossible for him to miss, as he could not have been more than 500 yards away.  I should say that he fired in all about 20 rounds.

       We all went aft to get out the boat, which we launched on the port quarter.  The men got into the boat, the Chief and 3rd hand sitting right aft, and there were three of us left on deck, myself, the Mate, and the man whose arm had been partly blown away.  A shell then burst about a couple of yards from the stern of the boat, holding the Chief in the shoulder, and causing the boat to leak.  I do not think this shot was aimed actually at the same boat, as it was lying alongside the stern of the ship.  They may have still been firing at the vessel, as they did not shell us deliberately after we left the ship.

            The man whose arm was so badly injured wished to be left on board the ship, so I said the the Mate "Get hold of him" and we lowered him down into the boat among the men.  Then the Mate rushed to the bridge to get his oilskin, although the ship was now blazing all round the bridge.  He managed to get his oilskin and just as he left the bridge the submarine put a shell into the bridge, which blew it to pieces.  When the Mate came aft, his back was alight so I put that out and then he got into the boat.  

            I then asked how many men there were in the boat and they told me 10.  I said "There should be 11, who is missing?"  I was told that the fireman had been killed.  I asked if they were sure he was dead and the 2nd Engineer said "Yes, he was blown in two".  The vessel then started to heave and I had no time to go and look for him.  I jumped into the boat and cut the painter.  Then another shell came right past the bow of the boat, so I pushed away and told the men we must get away from the light or he would sink us.  I started backing on one oar and another man had an oar on the other side.  We were not more than 10 yards from the ship when the Chief remarked "She's gone", so we started to row away.

            The submarine approached to within 20 yards of us, or even less.  We could see the grey outline of the hull against the sky.  It was very dark and he had no lights at all, and there was not even any light showing from the conning tower.  She was a big vessel, longer than the "TOGIMO", which was about 133 feet.  It was too dark to see even the shape of any guns she carried, but she stood up well out of the water.  No one spoke to us, then she turned around and, as the dawn broke in the sky, we saw her move away to the Southward; this direction was according to my own position and the dawn breaking.

            I had no compass light trimmed in the boat, so we lay-to until dawn, then started to row N.E.  All that Sunday we rowed N.E., the weather keeping fine with a nice swell behind us.  At sunset the wind backed to S.E. and started to freshen.  It gre[w] very cold and just after dark we saw 2 lights which I took to be those of a couple of trawlers.  They were steaming off, so we lighted a red flare; we saw them close in to one another, so we sent up another red flare, but they put out their lights and that was the last we saw of them.

            We started rowing again, still N.E., when we saw 3 more lights.  They were Steam trawlers working.  I picked out the nearest one and started to row towards him, afraid to send up another flare in case they steamed off like the other two.  The wind was freshening all the time, and was now E. to E.S.E.  We kept rowing towards the light for a couple of hours, when the light in the binnacle went out, so I had to steer by the light of the ship in the distance.  I saw this Trawler haul her trawl - I picked up the trawl by her lights - and she seemed to be a long time shooting the gear away again.  After this she went off to windward, that is to the east, and we kept rowing after her as long as we could until she was almost out of sight.

            By this time the other ships were out of sight as well, so i decided we should try another flare, but when we tried to light one it was too damp, and it was hopeless to get one to go.  It was useless to pull any more, the men were exhausted and I was the same myself.  I told the men we would lay-to until daylight.  I had no idea of the time, for we had no means of reckoning, but it was the longest night I ever spent.  The wind was freshening all the time and it was bitterly cold.  After daylight, I decided to let the men have a drink of water, giving them about a tablespoonful each, and they had had a biscuit at midnight.  We were running short of water.  When I opened the breaker it was three parts empty and we only had about a gallon.  We were all rationed except the man with the injured arm.  He was very brave and somehow managed not to groan, although he never lost consciousness and must have been in great pain.  We could do nothing for him, as we had nothing with us in the boat.  The flesh of his arm was badly lacerated, and he was bleeding terribly.  The boat was leaking badly from the shell which burst so close and we had to bail out all the time.  The water was stained with the man's blood.  We also had about two dozen ship's biscuits with us.

            After having a drink we got out the oars and started to row to windward again.  The wind was freshening so much now that I began to be afraid that the boat would be holed as she dropped on the sea.  I was just making up my mind to put out the sea anchor, when the Wireless Operator, who was at one of the oars, said "Skipper, I can see a vessel".  I asked him where it was and he pointed her out right down to leeward of us.  I could see it was a big ship and I told the man there would probably be a Doctor on board.  We could see her zig-zagging and I realised she would pass very close to us, so I told the men to ease their oars and rig up a flag of some kind. We managed to find the Cook’s apron in the boat, which we tied to a boathook and held up as a flag.

            The steamer proved to be the "MONTE NAVAJO" of Bilbao.  She came up close to us and then stopped.  A Jacob's ladder was lowered and a big basket for the injured man.  We put him into it and he was hoisted aboard.  The other injured men and the rest of us went up the ladder by ourselves.  I told them to cut the boat adrift.  The injured man and the Chief Officer were put to bed and were given the best medical attention they could have.  The rest of us went to the galley and were given hot coffee and bread.  We were treated very well indeed, given plenty of food and dry clothing, and then put to bed.

            We landed at Queenstown about midnight on Monday, 17th February.  The Captain of the "MONTE NAVAJO" wired in to Lyme Regis that he was bringing a shipwrecked crew in.  Lloyd's Agent sent out a tender and the 3 seriously injured men were taken to Cork, the rest of the men being taken to hospital in Queenstown, and I was sent to a Hotel.

            The whole organisation was very good indeed, and out treatment was excellent.

            All the crew had behaved exceedingly well, just as if they were carrying out their ordinary work.  The other two men who were badly hurt were the Third Hand who had shrapnel in his left arm, and the Chief Engineer with shrapnel in his shoulder.




From At 03.30 hours on 11 Feb, 1940, U-37 spotted a light of a fishing trawler 68 miles southwest of Milford Haven [sic] and fired a warning shot. The Togimo (Master James Gale) put out the lights, turned away and tried to escape so the U-boat opened fire with the deck gun at 04.58 hours. The trawler sank after 26 rounds were fired. 


From Wynn, K. (1997): U-Boat Operations of the Second World War, Vol.1: U-37 left Wilhelmshaven on 28 Jan 1940, in command of Korv.Kapitan Werner Hartmann; sank HOP and LEO DAWSON on 4 Feb, landed two agents in Donegal Bay on 8 Feb, sank SILJA on 10 Feb, TOGIMO on 11 Feb, AASE on 15 Feb, PYRRHUS on 17 Feb, ELLIN and PLM on 18 Feb, returning to base on 27 Feb.

U-37 was the second highest-scoring U-boat of WW2, with 51 ships sunk (190,477 grt), beaten only by U-48. 


From Jordan R. (1999): The World's Merchant Fleets 1939:  MONTE NAVAJO ex ARITZ-MENDI, b. 1920, 5754 grt.; owners Aznar S.A., Bilbao.


Skpr. James Gale R.N.R., 2774S.A., was gazetted for the D.S.C. on 5th October 1918, for services to minesweeping operations between 1st January and 30th June 1918.  See also his role as skipper of LIMESLADE SA10 (Rhondda Fishing Co.) in the saving of lives prior to the foundering of OKU M99 , on 11 Feb 1928.



From B.T. and R. Larn (2002):   Shipwreck Index of Ireland  


TOGIMO          11/02/1940


Co. Cork, Fastnet Rock, 68M SW x W    50.40N 11.02W




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