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Trawlers at War - World War One

Home 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Notes

  • There are three known instances of trawlers being sunk by mines after the war. One such example was the Scotland (H.348), sunk off the Yorkshire coast in March, 1919. Similarly, both the Ribble (H.225) and the Barbados (H.938) were sunk by mines during 1920.
  • Many of the trawlers listed will have been requisitioned by the Admiralty and employed on mine sweeping and/or anti submarine patrols. These have been identified in Alex Gill's 'Lost Trawlers of Hull' (Hutton Press). Only the older trawlers will have been used on fishing duties.
  • Trawlers converted for military use usually had their bridge raised onto a higher deck, the ship's lifeboat moved from the stern to a position amidships and, in some instances, an additional deckhouse installed forward of the bridge. The usual armaments were a large, four inch calibre, gun sited on a platform on the break of the forecastle and several heavy machine guns mounted both port and starboard. On the stern was fitted depth charge chutes and throwers.
  • Of the 135 Hull trawlers lost during WW1, 73 were unarmed vessels engaged only in fishing. The biggest single-day loss was on 3rd May 1915 when the Bob White, Coquet, Hector, Hero, Iolanthe, Northward Ho and Progress were sunk at Dogger Bank.
  • German U-boats would surface after identifying the target(s) as unarmed and the skippers were usually given the ultimatum of surrendering their vessels or having it blown up. The majority of skippers are know to have chosen the latter option. Crews were occasionally taken prisoner, but it was more usual for them to be just set adrift in their own lifeboats, forced to watch as their ship and its precious cargo were sunk.
It is doubtful if we could have defeated the Germans, at any rate as quickly as we did defeat them, if it had not been for the assistance which the Royal Navy received from the fishing community.

Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon

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