Fishermen love to tell stories, its an exciting life at sea - always eventful. As they get older they will sit by the fireside or at the bar and endlessly talk of both the good and the bad times.
Yet one Scarborough fisherman never told the story of the Lord Collingwood in 1917 - though it was the best story he could ever tell. "Punch" Eade, the father of future lifeboat coxswain Ken Eade, was so traumatized by his experiences that he never ever spoke of how he was cast adrift in the North Sea.
German U-Boats were not totally heartless. They did not sink trawlers without warning. They allowed crews to get off trawlers before they were put down. In most cases these men got home safely.
Yet in the heart of winter they often had to endure the cold North Sea. The Lord Collingwood was sunk by a U-Boat in on 22nd February 1917 130 miles North East of Longstone Light(Farne Islands).
Together with the crew of the Scarborough Trawler, Frolic they were cast adrift in open boats by the U-Boat commander in the middle of the northern part of the North sea in the middle of February. The two boats were lashed together but they decided to part to increase their chances of being found.
The crew of the Frolic were picked up 30 hours later by a neutral freighter but the crew of the Lord Collingwood had to endure 6 days 11 hours adrift. This is the coldest part of the winter. Sea temperatures at their coldest in late February.
The crew were:-
- H Hodds (mate),1 Overton Terrace.
- Walter Hodds (Skipper), 4 West Sandgate Terrace.
- B Anderson, Deck hand, 7 Spreight Lane Steps.
- F Blades, Trimmer, 54 Quayside Street.
- F "Punch" Eade, third hand, 13 St Marys Street.
- T "Micky" Scales, 2 Overton Terrace.
- T A Raine, 2 Clarence Place.
- J Prissick ,(Chief Engineer), 2 North Terrace.
- Hunter, cook, 64(and a half) Longwestgate.
The crew were picked up by the Trawler, Stork, of Dundee on March 1st, 1917. The Stork, was itself sunk by U-Boats.
Scarborough received the news via a telephone message from fish salesmen in Aberdeen. The crew were reported to be in hospital except for one, the Mate, who was reported to be well. The speed of the Mates recovery raised hopes that everyone would be OK.
"The welcome news created great excitement on the Sandside and piers at Scarborough". [Scarborough Evening News].
It was a terrible ordeal. The crew were treated in hospital for frostbite and hypothermia for 19 days at the Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen. One member of the crew sadly died in hospital and the skipper only lasted a few weeks more.
The trawlers owner, Mr R Crawford(of Sandside), was in Hartlepool at the time the crew were rescued. He proceeded to Aberdeen
"in order to do anything possible for the men who passed through a terrible ordeal".
U-Boat Commanders cast crews adrift on a regular basis. Indeed in the space of a week in 1917 two boats were cast adrift deliberately by U-boats in mid ocean with women on board. This was especially shocking for the time period. One case even involved a neutral vessel.
On March 23rd, 1917 the Swedish Schooner, Das Wos was sunk and its crew cast adrift in small boats. The Captain of the Swedish ship was given 15 minutes to abandon the vessel with his wife and crew of 8. They were given insufficient time to take enough food on board.
For four days and three nights they drifted at the mercy of the winds and currents until eventually the Conning Bee Lightship was sighted. The occupants were in a "pitiable plight when rescued, and on the verge of starvation".