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Rocklands - a general history

Official No. 84530; Code Letters WDBK; Code Letters LMJS.

Owners: 1881 Hardy Wilson & Co, West Hartlepool; 1894 Robert Hardy & Co, West Hartlepool; 1896 Gebr Petersen, Flensburg, Germany; 1913 FW Fischer, Rostock-renamed Franz Fischer; August 1914 seized at Sharpness, Admiralty requisition as CT-18 (managers Everett & Newbiggin), London.

Masters: 1881 Scott; 1882 J Dean; 1885 John Burgess; 1885-88 JJ Carter; 1891-92 Buck; 1894-95 JE Venus; 1897-99 J Seiver; 1900-02 E Funck; 1904-06 C Kahle; 1907-09 H Muller; 1916 John Davies.

Bound from Hartlepool for Cowes with a cargo of coal Franz Fischer was bombed & sunk by a Zeppelin rigid airship two miles south of Kentish Knock Light vessel on 1 February 1916. 13 lives were lost including the master.

The Times 8 February 1916:

‘The captain of the SS Paulin a letter to Messrs. Sutcliffe & Co of Boston, Lincs, referring to his last journey says: On my voyage from Calais to Goole, at 10.45 on the night of February 1 (Tuesday), while at anchor off the Kentish Knock, we met with a terrible experience. The ex-German steamship Franz Fischer, which was lying about half a mile SW of me, was bombed by some aircraft & sank in a couple of minutes, the crew being either killed or thrown into the water. We heard a loud report, followed by cries for help, but it being so dark we really did not know what had happened, & decided to wait events. The cries became more distinct as time passed, & in the meantime we launched a lifeboat. Presently we distinguished clear cries from three men, apparently in the water. The mate, boatswain, an AB & a fireman got into the boat & went to the rescue in the dark night. At that time a strong tide was running, & the boat soon drifted away astern. After a time a signal was made by them which, I understood, was that they were unable to come back to the ship. My windlass, being in a poor condition, finally broke when we were trying to heave the anchor, & I had to steam to them with my anchor still just at the bottom. Finally, after three hours' work, we were able to pick up the boat, which had rescued the three men, who were exhausted. One was in a serious condition, & we had to work on him for over an hour to get him to life again, in which effort we succeeded. Next morning we handed them over to a British vessel.’

The sinking of Franz Fischer, a captured enemy vessel employed as a coasting collier was reported in The Times on Friday last 'the vessel left Hartlepool on Monday afternoon, bound south. According to Charles Hillier, one of three survivors of the crew, about 10.30 on Tuesday night a Zeppelin appeared right over the vessel & dropped a highly explosive bomb, which struck them amidships. The steamer remained afloat only two minutes, the captain & 12 others being drowned. Next morning the wrecked Zeppelin L119was sighted in the North Sea by the skipper of the steam trawler King Stephen.’

Lives lost February 1916:

Charlton, Alfred William Rogers, able seaman, 28, Albany Street West Hartlepool

Davies, John, master, age 59, Rhyddings Road Swansea

Hillier, Albert, able seaman, Point aux Gauls, Newfoundland

Inkster, William, 2nd mate, 56, b. Shetland, resided South Shields

Jenkins, David Bevan, fireman, 27, Pembrokeshire

Kyriakos, John, fireman, 21, b. Cyprus

Lennard, Christopher Charles, 54, b. Woolwich, London

Noble, Abraham, mess room steward, 59 (son of Abraham & Margaret)

Patterson, Henry, able seaman, 42, b. Montrose, resided Westmoreland Street West Hartlepool

Powell, Henry Alexander, 2nd engineer, 36, b. Cambusland

Prior, William, fireman, 40, b. South Shields

Skimin, George, mate, 48, b. Bangor, Co. Down

Vidolich, Emmanuelle, donkeyman, 42, Casal Zabbar, Malta

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