Sunday, 11 November 2012

SS Mersey of Goole

I am writing this on the morning of 11th November, Remembrance Day and thought it would be right to include here a memorial to some of the many servicemen and women, including those who served in the Merchant Navy.

Captain William Rockett, lost on the sinking of the SS Mersey

Shown above is Captain William Rockett who was lost when the SS Mersey sank on 20th April 1940. It was believed that she had hit a mine.

The report in the Hull Mail of 22nd April 1940 follows:

'Goole Steamer Mined with Loss of 14


GOOLE'S biggest shipping disaster since the outbreak of war occurred on Saturday, when the 1,037-ton collier Mersey sank off the south-east coast following an explosion, and 14 of her crew of 20 were lost. It is believed that she struck a mine.

The ship was only a few miles from the shore at the time of the explosion, and it sank within a few minutes. A man walking on the cliffs at the time said: "I was looking out to sea, and there was suddenly terrific explosion. A column of water shot into the air. The ship I had been looking at a few minutes before had disappeared."

With the exception of two, who came from Hull and Bridlington, all the crew belonged to Goole. The missing men included the master, Captain W. Rockett, of 81, Adeline-street, Goole. The other members of the crew were:

Second Officer, J. A. Vickers, 717, Anlaby-road, Hull
Steward, T. W. Garner, Lime Tree-avenue, Goole
T. Nicholls, A.B., Edinburgh-street, Goole
C. E. Riggall, A.B., Gordon-street, Goole
F. Vaux, A.B., Cottingham-street Goole
T. Wilson, A.B., Estcourt-street, Goole
J. P. Leddy, A.B., Promenade, Bridlington
F. Overington, A.B., Burlington-crescent, Goole
T. Nicholls, A.B., Edinburgh-street, Goole
E. Barker, Deck boy, Chiltern-road, Goole
F. Huntington, fireman, Percy-street, Goole
H. Walton, fireman, Western-road, Goole
H. Ducheman, fireman, Gordon-street, Goole
E. W. Cox, fireman, Prospect terrace, Goole
S. E. Clark, fireman, Bell-lane, Rawcliffe
R. W. Taun, fireman, Cross Gordon-street, Goole

The survivors are:

Chief Officer, J. A. Carr, Rutland-road, Goole
Chief Engineer, W. L. Pollock, Eton-road, Goole
Second Engineer, J. A. Drury, Brough-street, Goole
F. Vaux, A.B., Cottingham-street, Goole
T. Wilson, A.B., Estcourt-street, Goole

Vickers died of his wounds after being landed. Three survivors, Drury, Vaux and Ash, were injured and are in hospital at the port where they were landed. The other three, Carr, Pollock, and Wilson, were unhurt, and returned to Goole in the early hours of Sunday.


Seen by a "Mail" representative, the men would make no statement beyond saying that they had had shocking experience. 

The SS Mersey, owned by the Goole Steam Shipping (L.M.S.R.) Co., served throughout the last war as a cable ship. The last ship to be lost by the company was the SS Calder, which foundered on a voyage from Hamburg to Goole on April 19 1931, nine years ago almost to the day. 

Captain Rockett, who was 47 years of age, entered the service of the company as a chief officer in 1924, and had occasional temporary commands until 1929, when he became a permanent master. He was one of the company's youngest captains, and had been in command of the Mersey for about 12 months. 

During the last war he was both mined and torpedoed. 

Two years ago his 19 year old son, Jack Rockett, was killed by falling from the mast of a ship in port at Cartagena, Spain, while adjusting the wireless aerial. 


Captain Rockett was a Younger Brother of Trinity House, and a member of the Goole (Aire and Calder) Lodge of Freemasons. He leaves a wife, two sons, and two daughters. 

Garner, the steward, was a married man with four children, and most of the other missing men were married with families. Riggall was injured when the Goole trader Lowland was mined in the early days of the war, and this trip on the Mersey was his first since coming out of hospital. 

Able Seaman Joseph P. Leddy, of tbe Promenade, Bridlington, was making his first trip for 12 years. A married man with one child, he had lived at Bridlington for about eight years. He was 37 years of age and the son of the late Mr P. M. Leddy, who was senior clerk to the Customs at Goole during the early part of the last war. For some time before joining the merchant service Leddy had been unemployed. His mother, Mrs Leddy, lives at Priory-crescent, Bridlington. '

William Pollock was sadly lost in another incident in 1941

SS Mersey of Goole

1 comment:

  1. A excellent story of such a tragedy at sea, I am the cousin of AB Seaman J.P.Leddy from Bridlington.
    My late mother was sister to Selina leady AB seaman j.p. leddys wife.