“ The Skegness “
24th September 1935
The crew of the Hull trawler Skegness were lost when the vessel was wrecked in a fierce gale at Speeton cliffs. Scarborough, Flamborough, & Filey Lifeboats were all launched but could not reach the vessel, and the Speeton Rocket Brigade could not get a line over it in time for the men to make fast. Apparently when the vessel went ashore, the Skipper thought he was in no immediate danger, and at first a lifeboat was not necessary, conditions became very much worse however, and eventually the vessel, heavily pounded by the waves, broke up. The eleven hands all perished in the tragedy.
The trawler went ashore under the 300 foot cliffs late on the night of 24th September in a terrific north-easterly gale. Unusual lights were seen under the cliff by Coastguards and the afore-mentioned lifeboats were launched in a raging sea. It was at first thought that more than one vessel was stranded. The trawler was on its way from the fishing grounds to its home port of Hull. The Skegness first sent a message, which was picked up by a Filey fisherman on his own wireless set. He is said to have heard a voice say, “Skegness calling all stations. Am grounded but am not in immediate danger.”
This was heard shortly after dark on that fateful night. Later a short message was heard after the gale had sprung up. “Skegness, calling all stations”. That was all that was heard.
The gale turned from fog into a full gale within 1 hour. Coastguards set out along the cliff to locate the vessel and she was found ashore near Bempton. The torrential rain, which was falling reduced visibility to a few yards, and the force of the wind made it impossible to stand on top of the cliff. The Rocket Brigade fired at least 5 rockets down to the vessel, but all were blown back. So great were the seas that the lifeboats could not approach near enough to give any assistance. After repeated efforts a line was got over the vessel but there appeared to be no signs of life. Huge waves were sweeping through the wheelhouse in which the crew had been seen earlier.
The crew of the Scarborough lifeboat made a second search for the stricken vessel and the Coxswain reported that “ the funnel and one of the masts had gone, and I cannot see how anybody could have stopped aboard unless lashed to the mast. The seas were breaking right over the vessel, which was in a bad position and was breaking up. We ran great risk in going close and could not see any sign of life and we were signalled from the cliff top to return.”
The wind & seas increased intensively and the trawler was driven over onto her side.
Shortly after midnight a light was seen in the wheelhouse, but the last radio signal from the Skegness was received shortly before 3 a.m. Searchlights on the cliff top showed there was very little of the trawler left above the water except the wheelhouse, in which were believed to be the crew. The funnel had been smashed and carried away.
The Rocket Brigade stated that from their position on the cliff top they could see the vessels crew huddled together in the wheelhouse. One crewman having a torch which he signalled with. This signalling ceased just before 4 a.m. By 6.30 a.m. there was little hope of any of the crew being still alive. Great waves were sweeping over the vessel as she took a pounding on the rocks, listing badly.
The wreck lies at Gps Ref: TA 180 – 747 her boiler at low tides usually the only visible reminder of the tragedy.