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Muristan - a general history

Masters: 1915-16 Griffith Pritchard.

The Shields Daily News-Tuesday, 21 November 1916:

'Early on Sunday morning the British steamer Muristan, of Swansea, carrying a crew of 24 hands, went ashore in Blyth Bay. On Saturday her steering gear was rendered useless, with the result that the vessel was driven helplessly before the gale & was firmly embedded among the sands, stern towards the shore. Big seas were constantly sweeping the decks & when day broke only the stem, the funnel & the aftermast were occasionally visible. The vessel appeared doomed from the outset. Almost immediately after she struck the captain, Pritchard, & another member of the crew, supposed to be the chief officer, were washed overboard. At daybreak several of the crew attempted to swim ashore aided by lifebelts. Human chains were formed & three men were got out of the seething surf by this means. They were greatly exhausted, having been buffeted about the raging waters like bits of cork. Artificial respiration brought them round but one afterwards succumbed. Two other bodies were washed ashore. The remaining seventeen were stated to be in the chart-house & one of the rescued men, a Russian named Rundane, said the whole of the 17 men were alive when he left the vessel.'

The Shields Daily News, Monday, 20 November 1916

'The motor lifeboat, Henry Vernon, left North Shields at 9.30 this morning to proceed to the rescue of the crew of the steamer Muristan, stranded at Blyth. There was a very rough sea when the vessel left the harbour. After making a good offing she headed northward & made good progress northward. Her departure from the quay was the signal for a burst of cheering from the onlookers.'

The Shields Daily News, Monday, 20 November 1916:

'When darkness fell last night the large steamer, which was wrecked at Blyth on Sunday morning, was lying in about the same position & so far as could be ascertained there were still some fourteen of the crew on board, apparently in the chart, house beneath the bridge, as this was the only portion of the vessel which escaped the full violence of the waves, which, during yesterday morning were almost as mountainous as ever. Shortly before noon the motor lifeboat from Tynemouth arrived on the scene but was unable to get near enough the steamer to render assistance & the brigadesmen had to give up the attempt.

During yesterday afternoon the Blyth Volunteer Life-Saving Company endeavoured to shoot a line over the ill, fated ship, but without success, much to the disappointment of a large crowd of spectators.

Up to last night six members of the crew had been accounted for & today an inquest will be opened on three victims whose bodies have been recovered.

Writing at 10 o’clock last night, a Blyth correspondent stated that the position of affairs in regard to the wreck was unchanged. The gale has moderated considerably & today it is fully anticipated that the men still on board will be rescued by the lifeboat.'

On a voyage from Tyne for Rouen, France with a cargo of coal & a crew of 24 during a severe easterly gale the steering gear of Muristan failed & she was driven inshore 1 mile south of Blyth on 19 November 1916. Of 5 crew rescued by soldiers only 2 survived. A further 16 were eventually taken of by the Tynemouth motor lifeboat. The hull was valued at £52,000.

RNLI Silver Medals were later awarded to Coxswain Robert Smith and Second Coxswain James Brownlee for rescuing 16 people from Muristan. 5 lives lost.

Lives lost November 1916: Bell, Clark Robert, 1st mate, Harrogate St, Sunderland; Ford, William James, steward, 42, Marshal Wallis Rd, South Shields; Gosling, Albert, cook, Taylor St, South Shields; Mitchell, John F, 3rd engineer, Amberley St, Sunderland;

Pritchard, Griffith, master, b.1869, Pwllheli, Wales.

Survivors November 1916: Redding, James, 2nd engineer, Chester Rd, Sunderland; Rundane, b. Russia, resided Watson Street, Walker.

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