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HMT WARRIOR

 
 
Refer to the Elliott Steam Tug Company Ltd fleet list for technical details relating to the Warrior.
 
The Warrior was hired by the Royal Navy on the 7th August 1914 for £9 15s per diem. This was increased to £10 15s per diem on 31st July 1915. The Warrior, along with the other tugs Stormcock and Hellespoint, provided a rescue facility based at the Haulbowline Naval Station at Queenstown, (now Cobh), in Ireland. On the 1st December 1916 she was brought into full commission as HM(T) Warrior. For details of the naval activities for this command, which includes references to the tugs, refer to the book “Danger Zone”, by E. Kemble Chatterton.
Just prior to Leonard Williams joining her as Master the Warrior and Stormcock assisted the “Wayfarer”, a chartered troopship which had been torpedoed, into port. Similarly the “Pinner”, an oil tanker which had lost her propeller, the barque “La Epoca”, the schooner “Diana” and the SS “Messina” were all given assistance. Details of these actions were published in the national newspapers. While assisting the SS “Pomeranian” in heavy seas, the Warrior was nearly lost when the engine failed and she developed a leak. It was only the expeditious action by a sloop, HMS Zinna, that she was herself rescued. The debt was later repaid when the sloop HMS Begonia was torpedoed and the Warrior helped to bring her home. The most famous tragedy, which involved the Warrior, was the sinking of the Lusitania. This is covered in a separate section.
One anecdotal story told by Leonard was that on being called to assist a ship which had lost her rudder they realised that a slow tow through U-Boat infested waters was not a good idea, hence the tow was reversed allowing the ship to work up to a reasonable speed with the Warrior acting as a crude rudder. They successfully brought the ship into Queenstown, but Leonard was ordered to report to the senior officer on duty where a formal reprimand was given for allowing the red ensign to precede the white into port !
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THE SINKING OF THE LUSITANIA
 
 
The Lusitania was a famous passenger liner used on the Nth Atlantic crossings prior to the 1st World War. She was famous for her speed and luxury, and was therefore a favourite of rich American passengers. On the 7th May 1915 she was torpedoed by the U20 just outside of Queenstown and sank with a death toll of 1,201 and only 764 survivors. The high death toll was a function of her sinking in reportedly 20 minutes after being hit. Her distress calls galvanised all the available vessels in Queenstown, both civil and military, into rushing to the rescue of the unfortunate passengers. As the tug flotilla was generally kept at a state of readiness they were amongst the first to respond. Leonard Williams has been appointed the master of the Warrior on the 10th April 1915, hence this must has been one of his first calls to duty. The Warrior saved 74 people.
The sinking of the Lusitania has been covered in controversy as the survivors reported two explosions, the second being the one which caused the ship to founder so quickly. The British propaganda machine claimed that this showed that the U20 had fired two torpedoes in the certain knowledge that no merchant ship could withstand two hits, thus it was a deliberate act of murder. The German propaganda machine responded by claiming only one torpedo had been fired and that the second explosion was proof that the Lusitania was carrying ammunition, thus making her a legitimate military target. Whatever the truth the deaths of a significant number of Americans hardened the attitude of the American government towards Germany, which eventually paved the way for their joining the war on the side of the allies.
 
Update 9-12-2008.
N.B. In December 2008 it has been reported that divers examining the wreck  of the Lusitania have found a substatial amount of ammunition. A quantity  was retrieved and following examination was confirmed to be 0.303 inch rifle  ammunition manufactured by Remington to the Lee Enfield specification,  therefore suitable for use by the British Army. The presence of this  ammunition therefore supports the German claim that she was a legitimate target. As the shipping manifests do not show the presence of military materiel it is possible that she was also carrying cordite, or similar material, which would account for the second explosion. While this does not exonerate the U20 from torpedoing a liner, it does place the British stance as being less than credible !
 
 
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IRA PIRATES

Following the Irish struggle for independence, (1919 – 1921), an agreement had been reached whereby Ireland was partitioned into Ulster, which remained within the United Kingdom, and the Irish Free State, an independent Dominion within the Commonwealth. Many of the ‘hard line’ republicans considered this to be a ‘sell-out’ of the aims of the ‘struggle’ and, although the settlement was supported by the majority through the ballot box, they rejected the settlement, Eamon de Valera stating, “the majority have no right to be wrong”. Such a situation could not last and in June 1922 a civil war, lasting until May 1923 broke out. In the period between the two the British military commenced a withdrawl from the bases it had established in the Irish Free State. Sean O’Hegarty was a prominent member of the IRA in Cork and he noticed a flaw in the security relating to the removal of arms and ammunition from the decommissioned bases, in that the munitions ships were left virtually unguarded after they had moved away from the quay. On 31st March 1922 he organised an audacious raid to hi-jack the Upnor, a munitions ship, prior to the Royal Navy escorting it to the United Kingdom.
In a carefully organised raid his men hi-jacked up to 100 lorries across southern Ireland and drove them to Queenstown, (now Cobh). Meanwhile an active service unit boarded the Warrior, which was alongside the dock, and ordered her to make sail. The Warrior was then used to storm the Upnor, seizing her crew, guards and cargo, and she was brought, with the Warrior, back to the harbour, where her cargo was unloaded onto the waiting lorries. The plunder comprised 381 rifles, 727 revolvers, 33 Lewis guns, 6 Maxim guns, 25,000 rounds of ammunition and a stock of gelignite. The crews of the ships involved were released, the arms and munitions removed to secure hiding places and the lorries returned to their owners.
During the following days the Colonial Secretary, Mr Winston Churchill, faced a barrage of questions in the House of Commons over this highly embarrassing incident, and a full scale inquiry was ordered. The master of the Warrior, Leonard Williams, who was not on board when she was seized, was arrested on suspicion that he was complicit in the event. His having an Irish father who had been an outspoken advocate for ‘Ireland for the Irish’, could not have helped his case ! Eventually he was cleared, released and his revolver returned. His daughter indicated that the first that they knew of the incident was when his wife, Ada Rose, read about his arrest in the newspaper. This must have been a considerable shock and waiting for further information must have been nerve-racking.

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THE LOSS OF THE SYLPH
 
[N. B.This incident took place after Capt. Williams had left the Warrior.]
 
EX Destroyer SYLPH
Report taken from news cutting 1927.

An Eventful Journey: A Chapter of accidents:
"But art nor strength avail her-on she drives In storm and darkness to the fatal coast" (William Crowe)
An epic of the sea, the details are worthy of description by Conrad, and reveals the arduous lives led by those "who go down to the sea in ships" was brought to a finale within a few short miles of Swansea on Friday. While people were battling with the fury of the gale, four men clung helpless on the deck of a destroyer while it drifted, a derelict on to the beach at Aberavon, thus bringing to an end a week long fight against a raging gale.
Last Saturday the steam tug Warrior an ocean-going tug, of 192 tons belonging to Page and Co of London set out from Devonport with the destroyer Sylph, an H class boat, in tow for Newport, where the destroyer was to be broken up at Messers. Cashmore and Co`s shipbreaking yard. From the outset of the voyage, bad weather was encounted, and the tug with her unwieldy tow, was compelled to shelter in Plymouth Roads until Sunday morning when the fury of the gale having abated somewhat, it was decided to resume the voyage.All went well until off the Pendeen light the tow was parted. and the destroyer was adrift with her crew of four ex-navel men.
After an hour another rope was passed to the Sylph, but that also parted. Capt, Parker, the master of the tug Warrior described in an interview with the press the long drawn out fight in the channel with the gale, how they again got the ropes to the destroyer, how it parted and how the destroyer drifted up until abreast of Lundy, where the tug at last managed to get another rope across, this time using 4in wire ropes as well as 13in manilla rope. Off Bull point the tow ropes parted again leaving the Sylph to the mercy of the wind and seas.
Eventually after a trying period, in which it was feared she may go ashore off Oxwich Point, the destroyer dropped her anchor inside Oxwich and the tug came in to Swansea for supplies on Thursday morning Returning to her charge on Thursday night another attempt was made to reach Newport, but fate ruled otherwise, and the tow again parted off Port Talbot and the destroyer begin to drift ashore.For a long time the tug stood by trying to render such assistance as was possible. No tow ropes were left and the Captain of the tug concentrated on trying to get the crew of the destroyer off.
Several times he ranged the tug alongside, but the sea, after throwing them together violently, parted them.Both vessels were now perilously near the beach, and at last the tug was compelled to sheer off, otherwise she would have been ashore also The Homeric struggle of Capt, Parker and his tug had not gone unnoticed and when it became apparent the Sylph was bound to go ashore at Aberavon beach, the Port Talbot rocket life-saving apparatus was ordered out. The story is taken up by Lt. Marlow,R.N. the District Coastguard Officer, of Mumbles ho had kept the Warrior and her tow under keen observation throughout the struggle and had rushed to Port Talbot as soon as he saw that the destroyer was going ashore.
"We saw her first from the beach like a grey shadow, but as she came in nearer we could see the seas sweeping solidly over her. She swept in, and eventually drove bow on shore about a mile and a half from Port Talbot North Pier.
We fired two rockets but the wind was to strong and they was swept away. At last we got a line to her when the tide had receded but in the mean time one of the men had got over the side and half swam half scrambled ashore. The reminder of the crew-three in number-were rescued a little later"
The Port Talbot rocket team.
 
The crew L-R:  W. Matthews, F. Bowen, A. Givving, and J. S. Drummond
who swam ashore.

Lieut Marlow spoke in high terms of the Port Talbot rocket crew, who had to drag the heavy hand cart with the apparatus over nearly two miles of heavy wind swept sand to reach the scene, in charge of W.H.Matthews, the leading hand at Port Talbot.
A letter of thanks was sent to the Port Talbot Team who had to work waist deep in water during this rescue.
 
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