The Loss of the SAMTAMPA

5th March 2006, 13:20
On 23rd April 1947, the 7,219grt former WWII Liberty ship Samtampa, after sailing from Middlesbrough with a crew of 39 including 24 Seamen from the North-East on voyage for Newport found herself in the face of a 70-mile-an-hour gale and made the decision to hove-to in the Bristol Channel to await better weather. The anchor cables, however, were unable to hold the ship in such adverse conditions, and tragically the vessel broke up into three sections in just 80 minutes on Sker Rocks, near Porthcawl. The Samtampa’s lighter bow and stern sections were thrown up onto a rock plateau 25 feet above the beach, with the mid section containing the engine room remaining on the beach where it was battered against the rocks. Her crew of 39 were all lost.

In addition to this, the Mumbles Lifeboat, "Edward, Prince of Wales," which had been sent to assist the stricken ship, was found the following morning upturned at Sker point near the wrecked Samtampa. Her crew of 8 were drowned, bringing the total death toll to 47 men.

To mark the the 59 Anniversary of this tragedy, I have had two brass memorial plaques made dedicated to, and naming all those men lost. These include men from Stockton, Thornaby, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Redcar, Whitby, Staithes & Skelton. I will be donating one plaque to the Zetland Lifeboat Museum in Redcar and the other to the Lifeboat Museum in Whitby.

WILLIAM MENSWORTH (35) ship's fireman, son of Mrs. M. Mensworth of Hardwick St., Blackhall, served in the war on a munition ship torpedoed in a Russian convoy.

R. WEATHERILL (29), donkeyman of 6 Sayers yard, Whitby, married with two children, served in Royal Navy during war as a petty officer.

ARTHUR CALLIGHAN (30), donkeyman greaser, of 27 Tunstall Street, North Ormesby was in the Merchant Navy from the beginning of the war.

RALPH CHESTER (17)a deck boy of 59 Pallister Avenue, Brambles Farm, M'bro.,was on his third trip since joining the Merchant Navy. He was at home for his 17th birthday and his brother's wedding on Easter Monday.

JOSEPH GRIFFITHS (24), assistant cook, of 96 Berwick Hills, M'bro., was on his second trip since his return to the Merchant Navy. He married a South Bank girl only seven weeks ago and had been a prisoner of war in Japan for three and a half years.

HARRY GARSIDE (23) youngest son in a family of five, was on his first voyage in the Merchant navy less than a year after leaving the Royal Navy, he was married but no children.

JOHN STRANGEWAY (22) assistant steward of 42 Hunter Street, Middlesbrough had been at sea since he was 15.

L.F. DAVIDSON (24) able seaman of 15 Abbots Road, Whitby, a single man, he had been in the Merchant Navy since he was 15.

DONALD HILL (26) able seaman of 7 Wards Yard, Whitby, during the war he served for six years in the Royal Navy and was in the first flotilla of minesweepers which swept the way for the invasion force on D-day.

CHARLES FREDERICK SHINNER (20) of 74 West Dyke Road, Redcar was on his fifth voyage, previously he had worked at Dorman Long's and taken a prominent part in local athletics.

HERBERT LEES (24) of 16 High Street, Skelton comes from a seafaring family, his home was formerly at Birkenhead, he was married with two children.

PATRICK McKENNA (47) of 169 Marton Road Middlesbrough went back to sea after an absence of 20 years because he could not get over his wife's death, it was his first voyage.

GEORGE WEBSTER (21) fireman of Lancaster Road, Linthorpe, M'bro. made his first sea trip to Normandy on D-day.

JOSEPH GILRAINE (22) of Ernest Street, Middlesbrough had just recovered from yellow jaundice and his widowed mother did not want him to make the trip.

FRANCIS CANNON (30) donkeyman greaser of Feversham Street, Middlesbrough is the son of a sailor. His father, at present on a voyage, lost another son at sea during the war.

ARNOLD NICHOLSON (19) galley boy of 32 Thrush Road, Redcar had been at sea for nearly four years. He was a well known member of Redcar Literary Institute and this was his fourth trip.

JOSEPH CROFT (19) assistant steward of Stockton-on-Tees went to sea almost straight from school, his mother thought he would give it up after the war but 'it was in his blood.'

JAMES JOHN BELL (29) boatswain of 3 Lane Ends, Staithes lost two brothers also at sea in the war.

ISAAC LONGSTER (35) able seaman of Church Street, Staithes also lost two brothers at sea during the war.

J. THOMPSON (32) of 21 Anne Street, Middlesbrough.

JOHN T. SOUTER Jnr. Ordinary seaman, of 69 Redcar Road, Thornaby on Tees.

K.K. RICHARDSON, second engineer of 2 Westbrooke Grove, West Hartlepool.

STANLEY DARITIS (19) ordinary seaman of 37 Station Road, South Bank, M'bro.

WILLIAM JOHN DAVIS (53) able seaman of 83 Durham Street, Middlesbrough.

C. JACKSON (32) ship's carpenter, Upgang Lane, Whitby.

Also lost: Capt. H.N. SHERWELL, Ch./Off. D. LOWE, 2nd/Off. G.L. MURRAY, 3rd/Off. P. MARSHALL, R/O W.E. THOMPSON, Ch./Eng. W.A. ATKINSON, 3rd/Eng. G. RILEY, 4th/Eng. B. McDONALD, Ch/Stwd P. ALLAM, 2nd/Stwd, R.N. LYTHELL, Ch./Cook B. JONES, Apprentices J. ELLIS, P. FERNS, J. WILSON.

Edward Prince of Wales Lifeboat Crew


Hugh MacLean
5th March 2006, 13:54
Hello Billy,

Thanks for reminding us of this terrible tragedy and the sacrifices that seamen the world over make: "They that go down to the sea in ships".

Particularly poignant as a lot of those men had survived a world war.

You are to be congratulated in your efforts to ensure a fitting memorial for those men.


John Rogers
5th March 2006, 23:14
What a great tribute Billy, you are to be congratulated for the work you do for former members of the Merchant Navy and to the families of those who gave their lives.

6th March 2006, 03:18
thank you billy,sometimes we get left out,

6th March 2006, 07:57
thank you billy,sometimes we get left out,
Well done Billy, your efforts give real meaning to the term, "We will remember them!" Vix

6th March 2006, 08:06
Excellent work Sir these people must be remembered (Applause)

6th March 2006, 08:10
Ahoy Billy,

A great geste,many congrats, for your initiative, they should never forget.

6th March 2006, 23:23
Yes Billy
Excellent Superb the things you do(and all volantry work as well)it people like yourself that deserve recognition "WELL DONE"
Regards Bobby(Glasgow).

11th March 2006, 00:33
"It's a small world" as they say but I'd hate to paint it with a 2" dogs leg brush :eek: ..... on a more serious note.

I have just been given the contact address in Canada of Brian Lees whose Brother Herbert Lees was lost on SAMTAMPA. Brian has been trying to find and make contact with Herberts two Daughters. I've contacted the local paper to see if they will do a story in line with the anniversary and see if we can find them for him.

I also found a video on ebay regarding the loss of the ship as well and won it today (==D)

12th March 2006, 21:02
Thank you Billy

The plaques will be a fitting memorial for such a tragic loss of life.
Can you tell us what the video is called;

13th March 2006, 14:20
"Dangerous Coast" by Downwood Film Productions. Running time 22 minutes. It contains no actual real footage, but has been recreated where the event took place. There are a couple of pieces of actual footage at the Pathe News website if interested.

18th April 2006, 21:13
when i was a boy we went to porthcawl every year for holidays there was a stone plaque on the rocks about 100 yards north of sker house marking where the remains of the lifeboat were found last time I looked about 10 years ago it was still there though quite weathered

15th January 2007, 17:34
Monday April 23rd 2007 will commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Samtampa and Mumbles Lifeboat tragedy. Twenty five of those lost included eleven men from Middlesbrough, four from Whitby, two each from Stockton-on-Tees, Redcar and Staithes and one each from Skelton, Bishop Auckland, Hartlepool and Thornaby.

Two services have been planned, one at Porthcawl on Saturday 21st April at the All Saint's Church in Porthcawl and hopefully depending on the weather a visit to Sker Point where the ship came ashore. The second service is to be held on the Monday 23rd at the All Saint's Church at Mumbles itself. (both church's are named the same) For more details for the service at Mumbles contact Mr. Roy Griffiths (Lifeboat Station Operation Manager) on 01792-363852. For more details for the service at Porthcawl contact Mr. John David (was on duty the night of the tragedy) on 01656-786636. I also have contact with a Mrs Debbie Nixon from Whitby whose relative Robert Weatherill was lost from the Samtampa. Mrs Nixon is hoping to organise a coach trip from the North-East for the service at Mumbles on Monday 23rd April if enough interest can be found. Contact Debbie on 01947-820414.

Brian Lees originally from Skelton, now living in Canada, who I have contact with lost his brother Herbert from the ship and is flying over for the service. I found his brother's family for him last year after a story appeared in the local Evening Gazette.

I am hoping to attend at least one of the services, preferably at Sker Point, Porthcawl to lay a Merchant Navy wreath where Samtampa came ashore. Tide and weather permitting I plan to walk out and leave the wreath on the site of the remaining boiler from the wreck, if not will drop into the sea.

jim brindley
17th January 2007, 08:49
hi billy remember well i was on a liberty ship that day just of giberalter when we got the news . jim x ab .

22nd January 2007, 17:03
As an 11 years old boy I was camping that summer near the SAMTAMPA wreck. It was said that there were cabins still bone dry on board. I remember all sorts of rope and gear lying around the beach.There was a man living on board who kept unwanted visitors away - again it was hearsay that it was the R/O's father who had become mentally upset. Let not forget the lifeboat crew who were also lost - a bad day for Mumbles. Tabnab

22nd January 2007, 22:07
well done themumbles lifeboat was found bottom up on the rocks all eight
lifeboatmen perished too so sad terry music man

21st April 2007, 20:35
Attended the Remembrance Service at All Saints Church Porthcawl this afternoon. The church was packed with representatives from various organisations and services including the Coastguard, RNLI, Fire Service, Police and the Merchant Navy Association (Wales) to mention but a few. Dignitaries included the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan and the Mayor of Porthcawl. Looked for you Billy but couldn't find you.

Tony Breach
22nd April 2007, 21:10
Thanks for a very moving post. The Chief Steward's widow, Mrs. Jo Allam dedicated her life to fundraising for the RNLI at the Lifeboat Station at Weston-super-Mare. I was privileged to be a helper there - cleaning brass, looking after the shop, collecting money etc., & came to know Jo quite well and also her children, a girl a little older than me & a son, I think named Jeremy, who also went to sea with Houlders. Jo Allam was a wonderful & dedicated lady & if her children are out there I would just like to say hallo.
I was also grateful to be a boat-boy on the Weston boat DOROTHY which was run by the cox'n of the lifeboat, "Juicy" Payne & occasionally worked on the CATHARINE JANE for his brother, Jack Payne, who was the mechanic of the lifeboat & also a master-mariner. My experience with such wonderful people helped shape my life as a seafarer & I thank them.

Let us never forget this tragedy & the many lives it has touched.