In 1941 Joan Margaret was destroyed by an exploding German mine in the Humber estuary. Five Filey men were killed. They were Anniversary People last year and I promised to post a reprint of an old Looking at Filey article that can’t now be accessed on the British Library Web Archive. Better late than never, perhaps…
Wednesday 13 June 2012
‘Joan Margaret’ Revisited
I wrote about the fishing boat Joan Margaret last year on the anniversary of her sinking in the Humber. She had apparently struck an enemy mine but that may not have been the true story.
The Scarborough Mercury of Friday, 21st March 1941 had this brief report: –
Four Filey Seamen Lost
News has been received in Filey that four local seamen have lost their lives and one has been injured on Admiralty service.
The four men lost were as follows: – two brothers, George Robert Pearson, 12 Queen Street and Thomas E. Pearson, 98 Newlands, Richard Haxby, 5 Newthorpe and John W. Powley, 18 Queen Street.
The injured man is George Willis, 2 Ebenezer Terrace.
I looked carefully in later issues but found no further reports and wondered if there had been a news “blackout”. I mentioned this to Martin a couple of weeks ago and on Saturday he gave me a couple of photos to scan and two letters he had received about ten years ago from Joan Sewell, who was researching the tragedy – because she had been named after the boat. In these letters, Joan referred to another vessel, the Gloaming, which sunk in the same explosion with the loss of yet more lives.
Four years ago “Joff” appealed to other members of the Ships Nostalgia website for help in locating a photo of Gloaming, a herring drifter. His uncle, William S. REDGRAVE, engineman, was one of the men aboard who were killed. The others were Charles A. LITTLE, Second Hand and Robert SWANN, Ordinary Seaman Cook. Gloaming was also on Admiralty Service and the crew’s Royal Naval Patrol Service numbers can be found here.
It seems that Joan shared her research discoveries with a good friend, Mary Grant of Saltburn by Sea and in The Joan Margaret Story, published in Down Your Way “Yorkshire’s Nostalgic Magazine” [link now broken], Mary wrote –
The Yorkshire Bell (sic), with three Filey men on board, helped with the rescue. It was believed
at the time that the engine had triggered off the mine, but according to a book written by J
P Foynes: “The minesweeper Fitzgerald was sailing in the vicinity of Cleeness Light Float,
Humber Estuary, when she sank the little net Vessel Gloaming and the civil defence smack Joan Margaret by inadvertently triggering an acoustic mine near them.”
(The yacht, Yorkshire Belle, was herself mined at the mouth of the Humber about three weeks later, on the 11th of April.)
One of the illustrations in this article is a copy of a typed note with an East Riding Constabulary Police Station date stamp (22 March 1941) giving a more accurate casualty list than had appeared in the newspapers the previous day. The information had been provided by George BEE of Grimsby, owner of the motor boat Joan Margaret. It reveals that only the bodies of George PEARSON and Richard HAXBY were recovered. Thomas PEARSON, George WILLIS and Jack POWLEY were also killed and “James Johnston BROIGHT (sic), 13 Church Street, Filey, seriously injured and now in the Naval Hospital, Grimsby”. Mary Grant says that Jimmy BRIGHT lived until September 1996.
In this photo, Thomas Edmond PEARSON, aged about 22, is standing behind Robert ‘Chorus’ CAMMISH’s Bath Chair.
The seated men are, from left, Bob ‘Codge’ CAMMISH, ‘Tommy Chicken’, ‘Jossie’ JENKINSON, ‘Fatty’ CAMMISH and ‘Jackdaw’ JOHNSON.
Another of Mary Grant’s article illustrations is this photo of Joan Margaret in Grimsby Dock (I guess), having its compass adjusted.
Photographer unknown, abt 1934, courtesy of Martin Douglas
Joan suggests the date for the photo and names the crew in one of the letters to Martin. (The name of the compass adjuster isn’t known.) From left: Richard ‘Dick’ WILLIS, Bob ‘Cock Robin’ HAXBY, Tommy WILLIS (in wheelhouse), George Robert PEARSON (back of wheelhouse) and, sat down at the side of the wheelhouse, Paul ‘Hobby’ ROBINSON. Suzanne Pollard nee ROBINSON told me recently that her Granddad Paul was a member of the crew on Joan Margaret’s last trip but was taken ill and sent home. (Jimmy Bright only survived the explosion because he had “gone top side for a smoke and was blown clear”.)
Here is a photo of Joan Margaret going about her peaceful business.
The family headstones in St Oswald’s Churchyard
Crimlisk Survey 1977 with some additions.
Row 11 | 1930 Haxby E102
In loving memory of RICHARD HAXBY, killed by enemy action 20th March 1941, aged 36.
‘Love’s last gift‘
Also of his parents, ROBERT, lost at sea 23rd March 1911, aged 43.
ELIZA, died 29th July 1944, aged 72.
Also, WILLIAM WATKINSON, died 2nd Jan 1934 aged 85.
Row 6 1834 Pearson F71 Granite
In loving memory of my dear husband, GEORGE R. PEARSON, killed by enemy action, 20th March 1941, aged 36.
‘Treasured in memory’
Also, FANNY ELIZABETH PEARSON, died 5th April 1985, aged 83.
Row 6 | 1833 Pearson F69 | Kerb
F40b Add – new headstone within kerb – A Filey Fishing Family
GEORGE PEARSON (1880 – 1935)
& MILCAH NEE HOPE (1879 – 1930)
MILCAH A. “MILLY”
JOHN W. “JACK”
ELEANOR M. “LENA”
FLORENCE M. P.
Row 6 | 1833 Pearson F69b | Open Book
Row 32 |661 Willis G532
In loving memory of HARRY WILLIS, died 5th March 1936, aged 35.
Also of GEORGE, his brother, killed by enemy action 20th March 1941, aged 44.
‘Thy will be done’