The Coastguard Cutter Vol6 No 8

The Coastguard Cutter
August 08 Edition
Vol 6 No. 08.

"The Lady Margaret"




Hello Friend,

The First World War unfortunately proved that the Coastguards as a Naval reserve would not work and that they still had a valuable function on shore as Coastwatchers and in communication with ships at sea.


The First World War  1914 – 1918.

 Most of the Coast Guard were mobilized into the Royal Navy and they suffered very heavy losses. Three old cruisers called Aboukir, Cressy, and Hogue were torpedoed by German U-boats in September 1914 while they were patrolling the southern approaches to the North Sea. Because the weather was so bad it was thought the the submarines could not operate so the destroyer escort was withdrawn. Of the 2,200 men aboard these ships, more than 1,400 were drowned and most of these were Coast Guards. Other reserve ships, partly manned by Coast Guards which were lost, were the cruisers Hawke, torpedoed of Scapa Flow with a loss of 600 men, and Formidable, torpedoed off Start Point with a loss of 547 men. A temporary mortuary was set up at what is now the Coastguard Training School and according to one report, it was so full of bodies that fishermen were told to leave in the sea any other bodies trawled up. The Good Hope and Monmouth also partly manned by Coastguards were sunk in an engagement with the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau at the Battle of Coronel off the coast of South America. The entire companies of these ships were lost.

All these old reserve ships were obsolescent and were no match for up-to-date German battle cruisers and U-boats.

The coast was guarded by the army but the wireless signal stations continued to be manned by the royal Navy. It was clear however, that the mobilization of the Coastguard had left serious gaps in the coastal defences and it was decided that the Coastguard be disembarked and returned to the Coastguard station. Their new war time duties included looking out for enemy spies and saboteurs and giving early warning of attacks by warships on coastal towns. Coastguards also became experts in the disposal of mines washed up on the shore. The effective use of communications was now becoming an essential part of warfare and the high standard of signaling achieved in the Coastguard demonstrated their ability as communicators, Coastguard stations were equipped at an early date with the newly developed telephone and wireless telegraphy.

German Bombardment of Whitby. 1914.

Fire all directed at the Coastguard Signal Station.

Whitby, December 16.

Coastguard Cottages, WhitbyThe inquest was opened at Whitby today on the bodies of Frederick Randall, Coastguard boatman, aged 30, and William Edward Tunmore, North-Eastern Railway employee, aged 61, who were killed by shells during the bombardment of the Signal Station on the East Cliff.

C.S.Davey, Chief Officer of coastguard, in his evidence described the bombardment, stating that the whole fire was directed at the signal station, and common shells, not shrapnel, were fired. The first shot hit the cliff face, and this gave the Coastguards time to clear out of the signal station, which was demolished by the next shot. About 100 to 150 shells were fired. Randall emerged from the Coastguard quarters and a shell blew his head off. He left a wife and four children, the youngest being about six months old. The East Cliff was about 250 feet above sea level. The damaged property in the town was in the line of fire. The witness would not say whether the marksmanship was good or bad.

Evidence with regard to Tunmore’s death showed that he was leading his horse inland to get away from the fire zone when a shell exploded and a piece struck him in the chest.

Ref: The Times, London 18 December 1914.

"The Lighthouse Focus"Lighthouse Focus [Vol 2]

S.S.W.M.Barkley sunk by U-boat. 1917.

On thr night of October 12th 1917 at 7 pm. The S.S.W.M.Barkley with a full cargo of Guinness, and a crew of 13 men was torpoed just off the Kish Lightship  by a German U-boat. Five men lost their lives that night.

One of the crewmen who survived was the Cook/Steward, Thomas McGlue and in 1964 at the age of 82 he was interviewed about that night.

“I was in the galley, just reaching out my hand to take a kettle off the fire to make a cup of tea for the officers, when we got the poke, the kettle capsized and shot boiling water up my arm to the elbow. The galley was filled with steam and I said a few hard words, but apart from that there was’nt much noise – not a murmer in fact. I went out on the starboard deck where there was a life-boat hanging by one end to the forward fall, the Berkely was doing her best to go down but the barrels of Guinness were fighting their way up through the hatches, and that kept it afloat a bit longer, in fact, it’s the reason any of us got out of her. The master gave three blasts on the siren, and then I did’nt see him anymore. I climbed into the boat and a mate gave me a knife to cut the fall and the painter. The boat dropped clear. We waited for others of the crew, then the gunner came up- we had one gun on the after deck but he wasn’t at it when we got the poke, as a matter of fact he was with me in the galley, waiting for some hot water to do his wasing with. Another A.B. jumped into the boat and the four of us rowed away from the sinking ship so as not to get dragged under.  Then we saw the U-boat going astern. We hailed the Captain and asked him to pick us up. He asked us the name of our boat and where she was bound to. He spoke better English than we did, in a little while he let us go. He pointed out the shore lights and told us to steer for them.

Kish LightshipThe submarine sailed away and we were left alone, with hogsheads of stout bobbing all aroun us. The Berkley had broken and gone down very quietly. We tried to row for the Kish Lightship, but it might have been America for all the way we made. We put out the sea-anchor and sat there shouting all night. At last a collier bound for Dublin took us aboard. At the Custom House in Dublin there was a big fire which was welcome because we were wet through and I’d spent the night in my shirt sleeves. But we weren’t very pleased to be kept there three hours. Then a man came in and asked ‘are you aliens?, I said ‘ Yes we’re aliens from Dublin’

I was glad to get back home to Baldoyle because I’d left my wife sick and was afraid she’d hear about the torpedoing before I could get home”.   (Abstract)


Heroic Act. 1883.

A heroic act was performed by Jessie Ace, daughter of the Mumble’s Lighthouse keeper during the wreck of the lifeboat on Saturday. The girl and her sister improvised a rope out of their shawls which they threw to a drowning seaman. It proved however, too short, and Jessie Ace then jumped into the waves and succeeded in rescuing him.

Ref: The Times London  30 January 1883.

Sailing in a manner so as to steal or divert wind from another ships sails.
A sudden unexpected rush of wind from a mountainous shore which allowed a ship more leeway.

 Revenue Fleet NewsRevenue Fleet News
Gallant Capture of a French Smuggler.

On Saturday last Her Majesty's Revenue cutter, Racer, Mr.W.Daish, Commander, chased and captured in the Channel the French smuggling cutter La Flore, with a crew of 7 Frenchmen and one Englishman and towed her into Kingstown Harbour. During the chase the smugglers threw her cargo overboard; but from all circumstances connected with the vessel there can be no doubt of her condemnation.

Ref: Daily Express  23rd.May 1854.



UK CG NewsCoastguard News from England

Bravery of Coastguards. 1914.

A verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned at the inquest yesterday on the body of Coastguard Finnis, who with four others, lost his life in the capsizing of a boat at Shingle Street, Aldeburgh, on Friday evening last. The Coroner congratulated Coastguard Herbert on his bravery in saving Chief Petty Officer Goble, and expressd the hope that his conduct would be rewarded.

Chief Petty Officer Goble they left Aldeburgh at 5.15 with stores, and stopped half an hour at Orford. They then sailed to Victorine. As they reached the harbour mouth the wind died away, and they drifted. The tide, which was traveling at seven knots, swept them into shallow water, and the officer cried, “Pull, men, for all you’re worth.” Before the men could get the oars out the sea caught them, and in a moment all were in the water. He heard the officer cry, “The Lord help us.” Boatman Herbert cleared witness from the ropes, and they struck out for the shore, Herbert assisting the witness. When they had been swimming 100 yards Herbert cried, “Buck up, Jimmy, you’ve not far to go.” The witness replied, "I am beat. Save yourself.” Then Herbert put his hand around the witness’s waist, and he remembered no more.

Shingle Street Coastguard CottagesBoatman Herbert said that at Victorine Hut the officer asked the witness to inquire as to the weather and the depth of water. He did so, and the reply was “Too bad, not enough water.” When the boat capsized five of the crew scrambled on to it,but the boat then overturned. Afterwards he saw no one but Goble, whom he assisted ashore. The witness thought the Coastguard ashore ought to have fired the alarm.

Coastguard House stated that he told both Herbert and the officer over the telephone not to come out of the river on any account. After the disaster he put off with the other Coastguard in the boat, and found Herbert and Goble at Knoll Head.

Asked why he did not fire the alarm, he said he was surrounded by weeping women. If the gun had been fired immediately  more might have been saved.

The Coroner said House committed an error of judgement. After the verdict had been returned a juryman expressed the opinion that the boat was unsuitable.

The Aldeburgh lifeboat found the up-turned galley several miles away.

Chief Officer Mauger, aged 54, who is a native of Guernsey and who had been in charge of the Shingle-street station for about five years, had only another year to serve before being entitled to his pension. He leaves a widow and four children.

Boatman Bignell, who was 39 years of age and a native of Plymouth, was married and leaves a widow and two young children. Boatman Finnis, aged 32, of Dover, leaves a widow and two little ones. Boatman McCauley, aged 33, of Clough, Co.Down, was to have been married next week, and Boatman Lakin, aged 31, of London, was unmarried.

Chief Petty Officer James Goble, on of the two to be rescued, owes his life to the assistance he received frm Boatman B.Herbert. The latter, who is a powerful swimmer, dragged Goble through the water on to the Spit.

Ref: The Times, London  5/6 May 1914.

 Coming in September Edition.

 Wreckers on the Galway Coast.






With more and more people enjoying the beach and sea, the RNLI has never been busier - rescuing an average of 22 people every day. It now costs over £330,000 a day to run this essential service - to train their volunteers and maintain their craft and equipment. So however you choose to support them, every penny really counts.

To donate to the RNLI, simply call 0800 543210 or visit
(for Republic of Ireland call (01) 800 789 589 or visit

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