I’ve just had a photo pop up on Facebook reminding me of a trip to London a number of years ago and I briefly visited Tower Hill to find my Great Uncles name on the monument there to all the merchant seamen that died in World War II.
I thought I would share the story on here as it’s probably not written down anywhere.
Its safe to say we have quite a large family, my Grandmother was one of 26 children, so they were quite well known in the Preston area. As fleetwood is not far away, fishing was an obvious career choice for some of her siblings. Two of her brothers were due to sail in the early stages of the war. One of them, Patrick, was due to go on a merchant navy boat, whilst his brother was due to set sail on the Wellvale fishing.
Patrick didn’t feel comfortable going out on the Merchant boat as there were U-boats waiting to sink them and cut off supply lines so he asked his brother if he would swap, which he did.
the night before they sailed the two brothers went out and got drunk and it ended up with them falling out, so the next day they travelled to fleetwood on the train in silence. They went on their respective boats and never spoke again. The Wellvale was sunk on the 12th of September 1939 of the Island of Mull, with all hands lost.
It is presumed it was sunk by U-35, a German U-Boat, which was in the area at the time.
I have been in fish and chips for 21 years and currently hold the position on President of the National Federation of Fish Friers
My great uncle (Lawrence Patrick Turner) was a deckhand on the Wellvale and the youngest crew member to lose his life when they were shelled.
Such sad stories and the irony of your own family’s story, them swapping because one thought the chances of being attacked was less on the fishing boat is awful.
They will never be forgot by history or those of us that tell their stories.
My grandfather Robert Reginal Gunn was on the same boat. He was a lifelong deep sea fisherman.
I was in London working and went to the memorial and when I found his name it was quite surreal. I am named after him well first name anyway.
These were quite possibly some of the bravest men alive to do what they did with the constant threat of sinking or being sunk. Truly a remarkable generation.
His youngest son also Robert Reginald Gunn was a stoker on submarine P48. He was killed December 1942 aged 18.
just spotted this as I dont get the notifications on comments. Certainly brave men doing a tough job. I have been lucky enough to go on a few modern trawlers and also the Jacinta that was in fleetwood and trhere was a noticible difference in crew conditions on the jacinta and that was from the 60’s. Wellvale must have been tough and so must her crew