REDCAR – Tragedy of the Sea – with help in sight

Accreditation Cleveland Standard 1933.

They Saw and Waited Death

Redcar Tragedy of the Sea

   In a fishing disaster unparalleled since 1905,four Redcar fishermen lost their lives on Monday. They had left their boat to gather bait on the mussel beds.
Apparently the anchor slipped and the boat was swept away by the current. Trapped on the Seal Sands with the tide rising relentlessly at the rate of four feet an hour, they were helpless.
Only one of them could swim. He chose to stand and drown by his brother and his mates, rather than take the doubtful chance of saving his life by a half mile plunge through swirling waters. All they could do was shout. And their shout were heard too late, When boats set out to search in answer to their frantic appeals nothing could be found or heard; only deathly silence and the lapping of waves over the mud where they lay together.
A boat, bobbing solitary and empty out by the fifth buoy, gave a clue to their identity. And an improvised anchor, a garden gripe trailing limp behind on the end of an eighteen foot rope, told its own tragic story.

Pitiful Plight of Bereaved

   The dead men are:-
Jack S, aged 36, of Redcar;
Tom S, his brother, aged 30 years of same address;
Albert W, aged 36, of Redcar;
Fred P. L, aged 16, of Redcar.
Quite as pitiful as the plight of the men who perished is the position of those who are left behind. Mr. W leaves a wife and five children; T. S and J. S were the sole support of their mother, and Mrs. L is broken hearted at the loss of her 16 year old son.

   He was a fearless boy, with a love of the sea inbred. His brother is a seaman unemployed at present, and “Tich” L, as he was affectionately called was unemployed too.
A. W. aged 36,  ?? … to relieve the irksome monotony of long workless hours. Now his young widow and five children are in desperate straits, though the Relief Fund organised by the Mayor, brings a ray of hope through the gloom.
The two sons of Mrs. S were her only support. Ever since her husband lost his life at sea they have struggled against adversity. Unmarried. un-betrothed they devoted all their labours and affection to their mother. They live alone with her, over their small fish shop in Newcomen Street.
Fate had not been kind of late. They had narrow escapes before they met long ago a brand new boat they had bought went down. Yet despite these set backs their business was flourishing. By sheer pluck and a dare-devil indifference to danger they were winning through.
Then death stepped in.
Two dauntless brothers, who had tempted the roughest, dirtiest seas were drowned like rabbits in a flooded warren on the brightest, sunniest, calmest day in March.

Redcar Search Parties

   When the alarm was raised by Michael Malloy, of Port Clarence, labourer, two boats immediately set out but failed to find any trace of the men.
Meanwhile an anxious vigil was being kept in Redcar, and as the cold grey hours of dawn stole on to-day, hope was abandoned in three stricken homes.
Early next morning two boats stole out from the Redcar beach. Manned by the descendants of Redcar’s original sturdy stock, they were going, as their fathers had gone for generations before, to answer a call of distress. They knew it was no use. But they were going to fetch home their dead. They failed, but it was not their fault. They found their bodies lying together on the seal sands, and they were sad and vexed that the police regulations would not let them claim them.
Brave men, with sad hearts, they rowed back in silence, and grimly pulled their boats on to the beach they had left six hours before.

Their Story

   A crowd of sightseers’ stood back respectfully. No anxious relatives here. Their first long vigil was over. They knew the truth without coming to gaze up to the stern set faces of the rescue party.
I singled out one who I knew by sight. At first he was reticent. Then he described reluctantly, the full details of their tragic mission. Twelve in all had sailed down as far as “Seaton Snook” in two boats, the Mayflower and Pilot Me. Then abandoning the boats, they had tramped over a mile and a half of mud, thick black, clinging and sucking them, dragging them down to their knees. Undaunted guided by the fisherman’s uncanny instinct and possibly by an unerring knowledge of tides and currents, they at last came to where the poor fellows lay. A Port Clarence mad had already notified the Police however.
One of them was scratched round the eye – the younger Shaw it was. Had he received those injuries from the clutching hand of Fred Lloyd, who had sat upon Shaw’s shoulder would clasp his head for support. Probably. My fisherman friends inclined to that view too. And so we can visualise the heroic Shaw – the man who might have swam ashore and saved his own skin – holding “the kid” above the swirling waters, until they covered him, and both of them sank with rescue in sight.

The Inquest

   Yes! In sight. For at the inquest on Wednesday Michael Molloy, of Port Clarence described how he saw the men in the water waving to him, and calling out. And then when two boats were launched they had gone. Death had won by a few seconds.
The verdict at the inquest was “Death by Drowning” – the only verdict that could be returned as Mr Graham, the Coroner, pointed out.
The search party which left Redcar included J. Stonehouse, Jim Thompson (cox Tees-lifeboat) William Atkinson, Jack Thompson (second cox Tees life-boat) and  ?. Whiting in the “Pilot Me,” and D. Stonehouse (second cox of the Redcar lifeboat) C. Presswick ?. Baker, Henderson, W. Picknett, son., and W. Picknett, jun, in the “Mayflower.”
The Redcar part helped to carry the bodies to the shore, and stretchers improvised from the bottom board of a boat, and two oars

The Funeral

   The funeral will take place on Friday afternoon, when A.W. who is a member of the Redcar branch British Legion, will be given a military funeral. Members of the Redcar and Teesmouth crews will act as bearers to all the victims.
The members of the Tees crews will be Messrs Jim Thompson, who is coxswain and Jack Thompson who is second coxswain, Joseph Stonehouse, William Atkinson, William Carter and Charles Baker, while members of the Redcar crew will be Messrs. David Stonehouse coxswain, Robert Preswick, George Hall, Joseph Boagey, Cecil Picknett and L. Playfoot.
The Mayor of Redcar has launched a relief fund for which many contributions have already been received. Numerous efforts are being made in connection with the fund including a whist drive by the Crusaders F.C. and further performances of  “The Magic Key,” the operetta which proved so successful last week.


dean May 22, 2010 Redcar