John Stevenson Collection
Official No: 95831 Port and Year: Hull, 1890 (H96)
Fleetwood, 1914 (FD37)
Description: Iron side trawler; single screw; coal fired; ketch rigged.
Crew: 8 men
Built: 1890, by Cook, Welton & Gemmell Ltd, Hull (Yard.No.50)
Tonnage:155 grt 55 net (1914: 61 net)
Length / breadth / depth (feet): 104.5 / 20.3 / 11.0
Engine: T.3-Cyl; 50 rhp; by Charles D. Holmes & Co., Hull
28 May 1890: Pickering & Haldane's Steam Trawling Co. Ltd., Hull
Manager: Samuel L Haldane, St. Andrew's Dock, Hull. (1890-91)
Henry Alfred Lees, 144 Havelock St., Hull (1891-1910)
2 Dec 1910: Thomas Hudson, 18 Hamlyn Ave., Hull.
20 Dec 1912: The Hudson Fishing Co. Ltd., Wyre Dock, Fleetwood.
Manager: Charles Hudson, Galloway Rd., North Fleetwood.
27 May 1914: Registered at Fleetwood (FD37).
1915: Charles Curzon, Docks, Milford
Managers: Brand & Curzon.
Landed at Milford: 10, 14 Feb 1913; 4 Mar - 23 May 1915
Skippers: Thomas Worth (1914); J. Stevenson (1915).
1 Jun 1915: Stopped by U-34 145 miles W by S from St. Ann's Head. Attempting to escape, skipper and five crew killed by gunfire and vessel caught fire. Four survivors taken on board submarine.
2 Jun 1915: Vessel boarded and sunk by explosive charges in position 50° 36N 6° 20W. Survivors put back in boat along with crew of HIROSE (CF44) also sunk by U-34 and picked up by steamer BALLATER of Liverpool.
[See Times and local newspaper article, and extract from U-34's log book below.]
Accidents and Incidents
From Cambrian News & Merionethshire Standard of Friday 26th June 1914:
PETTY SESSIONS, Wednesday, June 24th.- Before Major Hughes, Alltlwyd, chairman; John Jones, John M. Howell, Jenkyn Thomas, and Evan Lewis, Esqrs.
Another Sea Fishery Case.—Thomas Worth, master mariner, 80, Poulton-road, Fleetwood, was charged by Evan Williams, 4, Rock-terrace, New Quay, fishery officer, with having fished within the Lancashire Western Sea Fisheries Committee limit, off Cynfelyn Patches, Cardiganshire, in his steam trawler, H96 "Victoria," on May 27th. No appearance was made by the defence. A letter was read from Mr. Hudson, of the Hudson Fishing Company, Limited, stating that the Captain had been discharged owing to his poor fishing and was in their debt to the amount of £4 16s. 2d. Mr. Hudson also wrote that from what he knew of his character he felt sure that his statement, imputing the negligence which brought him to the trouble, was owing to the boatswain's negligence in letting the vessel get too far from the [ course? ] was correct. A letter was also read from the Captain stating that inadvertently he was within the prohibited area and asking for lenient treatment.—Mr. W. P. Owen, who appeared for the Fishery Board, asked that the net should be forfeited.—The Bench inflicted the maximum penalty of £20 and costs, in default three months hard labour.
[ The date of the change of PRN from H96 to FD37 was on the same day of the stated offence.]
From the West Wales Guardian of Friday 19th March 1915:
With commendable enterprise, Milford trawler owners are replacing the vessels which have been commandeered by the Admiralty for minesweeping. The steam trawler Victoria has been purchased by Mr. Curzon from the Hudson Street Fishing Company, Fleetwood, and is under the management of Messrs. Brand and Co.
The Times, Jun 05, 1915; pg. 5; Issue 40873; col B
FISHERMEN KILLED BY SHELL FIRE
TWO TRAWLERS SUNK
The Milford Haven trawler Victoria and the Cardiff trawler Hirose have been sunk off the Scillies by a German submarine (believed to be the U 34), the former on Tuesday and the latter on Wednesday. In the case of the Victoria five men and a boy were killed by shell fire. The survivors from both vessels, numbering 14, were landed at Milford Haven on Thursday night by the Cardiff steamer Ballater.
The Victoria carried a crew of nine and a boy named James Jones, who was out with her on a pleasure trip. Of these only George Huddlestone, deck hand; John Craig, third hand; Clem Franklin, boatswain; and George Scriven, of Yarmouth, second engineer, survive. Huddlestone states that they were about 130 miles off St. Ann's Head on Tuesday evening when a shot came over head smashing their small boat. The boy Jones was sent on the bridge and the crew lashed some boards into a raft. A second shot killed the boy. The skipper, Steve Stephenson, went forward and was talking to the chief engineer, Albert Cole, in the forecastle doorway, when a shell killed them both. Huddlestone was struck on the arm and hand by shrapnel and fell down the forecastle ladder. Another shot blew off both the legs of the mate, Dennis McCarthy, and another broke both the legs of the trimmer, Frank Slade, of Haverfordwest. Four survivors, with George Rudge, of Milford, the cook, got aboard the improvised raft, but Rudge was drowned. The other four were taken aboard the submarine and kept there throughout the night. They were treated courteously and the doctor dressed Huddlestone's wounds, remarking that England started the war. In the morning bombs were put aboard the Victoria and she went down head first when they exploded.
From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 9th June 1915:
Milford Fishermen Murdered by Pirates
MILFORD AND CARDIFF TRAWLERS SUNK
It would be difficult to describe the feelings of Milford people on Thursday when, what to them was the worst tragedy of the war, was brought home by the arrival of the Cardiff steamer, Hirose, and four survivors of the steam trawler, Victoria. We had grown accustomed to the arrival of shipless crews as a result of the German submarine piracy campaign in western waters, but now that the pirates have turned their attention to our own fishing craft, the feeling as of a new horror seized people of all classes. Wives and relatives have become anxious, and in this connection it would be well if habitual rumour-mongers stayed their tongues out of consideration for anxious families. On Friday there were rumours spread regarding the fate of other trawlers, all fortunately groundless, folk should, therefore, be guarded in the spreading of what they hear. The reality is likely and serious enough without being made worse.
The Victoria was one of the smaller class of trawlers and had not long been at the port, having been purchased from Fleetwood by Mr Curzon and was managed by Messrs. Brand & Co. The large Victoria, owned by Mr. James Thomas, is on Admiralty duty. The fall story of the little craft's fate is given below, but some particulars of the men who were so wantonly killed may be told. It is a fact one family has been especially hard hit, as three members connected with it are amongst the killed, as will be seen from the list. The fate of the little boy Jones is painfully distressing. He was 12 years old, son of Mr W. Jones, skipper of the steam trawler, Tenby, and had gone on a pleasure trip with his uncle, Skipper Stevenson.
Skipper Stevenson, who was about 33, was a son-in-law of Mr J. Gray, Avondale Hotel, Hakin, and leaves a wife and four children. Mate Dennis McCarthy was a widower with no family. Chief Engineer Albert Cole was about 33, a son-in-law of Mr John Elliott, Trafalgar Road; he leaves a wife and live children. Harvey Rudge, cook, was a man between 55 and 60, and a brother of Mrs Gray Avondale Hotel, Hakin. Frank Slate, trimmer, was a Haverfordwest man. James Jones, the little boy, was a grandson of Mr and Mrs Gray. Avondale Hotel. The wounded lad, George Huddleston, is a son of Skipper J. Huddleston, Hakin, two of the other men are natives of Yarmouth.
It was just before seven o'clock on Thursday evening when the news of the tragedy was made known, after the steamer Ballater, of Liverpool (Cardiff owned), came up the Haven and anchored opposite the town. A number of men were put aboard a drifter and landed at the mackerel stage, and told of what was one of the blackest deeds that the desperate Huns, who are now infesting western waters, have perpetrated. It was, moreover, one of the worst stories told bv local sufferers. Of tragedies of the sea there have been many told by our gallant Milford fishermen, of lights against storms, of dreaded collisions, with their toll of deaths, but this horror was different: six of Milford's brave fishermen have fallen innocent victims to the foulest of foemen, without warning, without mercy, in the interests of "Kultur."
A "Telegraph" representative first sought out the third hand, John Craig, who lives in Dewsland-street, but he had not come home, he and others were in Hakin breaking the news to bereaved relatives. It was whilst on his way over there that our man met the deck hand with arm bandaged up coming to Dr. Griffith's surgery and regaling a number of sympathisers with the details of the terrible tragedy. He willingly gave his graphic account which we give in his own words. He had been out a week and in a few hours would have been thinking of making for home. It was about 5 o'clock in the evening on Tuesday and they were then 130 miles west by south of St. Ann's Head fishing. The first thing of an unusual nature was that they heard the sound of guns booming. They saw nothing and thought it might possibly be a drifter patrol boat on the track of a submarine and they took no notice. Then a shot suddenly come overhead the ship forward and smashed one of the boats. Anticipating trouble they prepared to meet it. The boy Jones was placed in the wheelhouse and the crew were ordered to lash some boards together into a raft, this for some of the men proved a fortunate precaution. Another shot came shortly and struck the wheelhouse killing the little lad instantly. Things were now serious, but worse was to follow, for whilst Skipper Stevenson and the chief engineer were standing near the fo'castle ladder discussing matters a shell came and both were killed. "I cannot describe in words the horror of that moment," said Huddlestone, "in fact, I was in the act of handing one of them a cup of water, when it was knocked out of my hand and injured my wrist, and I also received a piece of shell on my forehead and I fell down the fo'castle ladder. Down below some terrible things happened. The poor mate, McCarthy, had his two legs blown off, while in the fore-hole the trimmer, Frank Slate, had his two legs broken. The firing now ceased and I managed to climb on deck and saw the submarine coming alongside." One of the officers pulled him aboard the submarine. They said if they had stopped they would not have fired. He did not see anything of Craig, Franklin, Scriven or Rudge until a long time afterwards when he saw the body of Rudge floating past with a life-belt on and he then saw the other three on the raft. He called the attention of the Germans to them and they were picked up after about 14 hours in the water. They spent the night aboard the submarine, a novel experience. 0n the whole they were treated alright, but did not have much conversation with the Germans. The Commander appeared to be an abrupt and uncivil sort of individual, but another officer who appeared to be a doctor was courteous, and was the only one to speak much English. He dressed Huddleston's wounds and later said that England started the war. Next morning he could not say what time, they were called up on dock and told that another boat was coming alongside. They had been submerged till then. He should have stated that the Germans put a bomb aboard the Victoria and she went down head first. They saw them attack the Hirose and sink her, after which they put the four survivors of the Victoria in the boat with the crew of the Hirose, gave them 6 or 7 biscuits and cast them adrift. Then followed an awful experience. They rowed about all day and again through most of Wednesday night in driving wind and rain and had rowed about 60 miles before being picked up by the Ballater. He was definite in his statement that the submarine was U.34.
The other men had very similar stories to tell. Huddlestone's injuries showed that a large piece of flesh had been blown out of his wrist. He had since been suffering from the effects of his trying experience.
Extract from the War Diary (KTB) of U-34, Kapitänleutenant Rücker:
[The first lines of the text were unclear and could not be translated.]
“Ordered the trawler to stop by warning shots, but was not recognised. After first hit from our gun the steamer tried to escape with maximum speed. Finally the vessel caught fire at a distance between 40 and 30 hm after having been hit by 10-12 direct shots. Afterwards I directed the boat to the steamer which was named VIKTORIA with port of registry Fleetwood and sank the vessel with explosive charge. 4 survivors of the crew of which 3 were in the sea and one onboard the steamer were taken on board the boat. The captain and 5 crew men were killed by gunfire. The survivors stated that after the first warning shot they asked the captain on their knees to stop. He rejected having the opinion that he could manage to escape. I think it is most probable that only the captain knew the purpose that the vessel was acting as guard vessel. The whole behaviour in any case makes it obvious that it was a guard vessel which fulfilled also fishing duties. It is very remarkable that although the steamer received a lot of hits with inner and head ignition ammunition it didn’t sink. It was obvious that the effect on the steamer was extremely devastating.
07.40h Voyage continued
11.00h After beginning of dark voyage continued under water to give the crew relaxing time.
04.50h south of St. George Channel, cloudy, good sight Surfaced. On the horizon a couple of trawlers came into sight which are apparently doing fishing work.
A trawler comes close to us so that he can be reached by gun. It was ordered to stop. Also on this occasion the steamer stops only after he received the first hit of our gun. The crew and the 4 crew members of VIKTORIA were placed in the dinghy and sent to the closest fishing vessel. The steamer which was named HIROSE from Cardiff was sunk by explosive charge. (49.50N 07.10W).
Also the action of the captain of this steamer gives a doubtful impression. He stated that he didn’t stop after our first warning shot, because he did not realise that a submarine was there. This can be excluded, because the distance was only 30hm.”
[I am greatly indebted to Michael Lowrey for copying this translation by Jochen Krüsmann, and to Roger Griffiths for forwarding it to me. ]
Information from the CWGC on the casualties:
COLES, First Engineer, A G, Steam Trawler "Victoria" (Fleetwood). Mercantile Marine. Killed by gunfire from enemy submarine 1st June 1915. Age 36. Husband of Agnes M. Coles, of 16, Trafalgar Rd., Milford. Born at Cardiff.
McCARTHY, Mate, D, Steam Trawler "Victoria" (Fleetwood). Mercantile Marine. Killed, by gunfire from enemy submarine, 1st June 1915. Age 41. Born at Brixham.
RUDGE, Cook, G J, Steam Trawler "Victoria" (Fleetwood). Mercantile Marine. Killed, by gunfire from enemy submarine, 1st June 1915. Age 56. Born at Hull.
SLATE, Trimmer, F, Steam Trawler "Victoria" (Fleetwood). Mercantile Marine. Killed by gunfire from enemy submarine, 1st June 1915. Age 48. Husband of Ellen Slate, of 28, Church St., Haverfordwest. Born at Haverfordwest.
STEVENSON, Skipper, J, "Victoria". Mercantile Marine. 1st June 1915.
[Not recorded in Larn & Larn (2000 & 2002), but included in http://www.irishwrecksonline.net/Lists/CorkListB.htm ]
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