Village News

Christmas Lights


13 Jan 1942

MILLS, BERTRAM MERRIFIELD, d. 13/01/1942, Age 20, Donkeyman, Merchant Navy, S.S. Lerwick (London), SON OF VIOLET BARNES, OF HAYLE, CORNWALL



Extact from a report by the ship’s carpenter John K. Ellis:- “The LERWICK had brought a cargo of manganeese ore from Pebble to the Ford factory at Dagenham and was on passage to the Tyne for dry docking. When she reached a position 6 miles E.S.E. of Whitby High at 3 p.m. she was attacked by a Heinkell III bomber. Three direct hits were scored, the first dropping close to the starboard quarter, the second hit the stoke hold and the third hit No2 cargo hold. The McGregor hatch covers blew into the air and dropped throught the bottom of the ship causing her to rapidly fill with water. She sank in less than 20 minutes.

Captain Robinson who had recently lost his wife in air raids over South Shields assisted in the launch of the jolly boat and then returned to his bridge attempting to go down with the ship. He had to be persuaded to leave with the crew. One fireman was late getting off and swam for the jolly boat. He almost made it but was carried down by a vortex so strong that it turned the jolly boat around two and a half times befoe it was released. Five lives were lost.

The ships cat ‘Lucky’ a survivor of a previous air raid on the Carlton Hotel in Cardiff, escaped in the jolly boat with 6 of her 7 kittens, all named after the seven dwarfs, ‘Dopey’ was never found.”


'SS Lerwick' (5626t) while inbound to the Tyne from London, was attacked by enemy aircraft, and sank off Robin Hood's Bay with the loss of five lives. She was built in 1938. To date she has not been located.