Action in Liverpool Bay, Pilot boat driven ashore

Loss of Pilot Boat No1 and 22 lives 1939


Loss of Pilot Boat No1 and 22 lives 1939

Liverpool Daily Post, Nov 27th 1939






At least 22 men lost their lives when the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, Pilot Boat No 1, the CHARLES LIVINGSTON, which ran ashore at Ainsdale near Southport, at about 3.30 am yesterday.

Ten were rescued.

Of the dead 7 were pilots and 3 apprentice pilots, 22 bodies are lying in the Southport mortuary, all but one have been identified, one man is feared to be still missing.

When the boat grounded, 500yds from shore, the ship's boats were launched, with apprentices on board, but the craft broke away and was not seen again. The survivors clung to the rigging and one by one including the Captain, through the storm, where washed away, until only 6 were left.

When rescued by the Blackpool lifeboat, they had held on for 8hrs. The other men managed to swim ashore or were dragged to land by rescuers.

500yds from the shore, distress flares were sent up.

The pilot boat was cruising near the Mersey Bar when a gale sprang up. It was impossible to make headway in the mountainous seas and the vessel was forced ashore and grounded about 3.30am, 500yds from shore opposite the Ainsdale Lido.

Distress rockets and flares sent up were seen by Mr Robert BROWN, night watchman of the Lido [of Rochdale Hornets, wing three quarter, lifeguard at the Lido in summer and lives on Ainsdale promenade].

He notified the police who communicated with the New Brighton Lifeboat and Liverpool and Wallasey police.

Meanwhile the crew lowered their two motor lifeboats and rowing boat, and on the leeside of the vessel made them fast in readiness to abandon ship. Then came tragedy.

The row boat containing a young apprentice broke adrift, the two motor boats each manned by two crew made off to reach her and take her in tow. The three boats were not seen again and were later washed up on shore empty.

As the pilot boat settled in a gully between two sandbanks, she canted over and waves 20ft high broke over her. Those left climbed the rigging and got to other high places in an endeavour to escape being washed overboard, but their battle proved a losing one as the incoming tide made the waves higher.

Men were washed away one by one, till only six were left clinging to the rigging. After 8hrs, numbed by the cold and drenched to the skin they were taken off by the Blackpool Lifeboat.

The Fleetwood and Lytham lifeboats also arrived on the scene.

The crew of the Blackpool Lifeboat
Those on the shore patrolled the beaches and waded deep into the water in the sad task of rescuing the bodies washed ashore.

They succeeded by artificial resuscitation to revive six their endeavours with the others were in vain.

George MEASHAM, aged 60, a member of the St John's Ambulance Brigade, of Ashton Rd, Birkdale, waded into the water on three occasions to bring two bodies and one man alive to shore.

Miss DAWSON, Ambulance driver also waded 50yds out to bring in a body.

Other bodies were recovered by horsemen, when taking their morning canter on the beach, who joined in the rescue efforts.

Most of the bodies were washed ashore within a mile of the wreck, but one was recovered on Southport Marine Dr, 3 miles away.

The Rescue

In a vain attempt to reach the vessel those on shore, police officers, life guards and air raid precautions men, launched the Ainsdale Lido, motor lifeboat six times, twice it overturned and it was impossible to make headway in the heavy seas.

Southport had no lifeboat, so that all the, would be rescuers could do was wait. Men could be seen clinging to the rigging from 7.30am, it was not until 3pm that the lifeboat took them off.

The Blackpool lifeboat travelled 26miles to the pilot boat and landed the men. While it was returning and was opposite St Annes, two of the crew Frank CORNALL Jnr and Jack GERRARD were washed overboard when a heavy sea struck the lifeboat broadside, they were picked up almost immediately, Mr CORNALL Snr a crew member, helped to pull his son back on the boat.

The Lytham lifeboat reached the vessel and ran alongside but the distressed men on the rigging declined to leave the vessel, saying they would soon be able to walk ashore.

The Hoylake lifeboat returned to her station between 4 and 5am, the crew having been in service for over 12hrs, one member Henry DAWSON, aged 70, of Hazel Rd, Hoylake, collapsed from the cold and exposure and was removed home as soon as the boat landed.

Coxswain Herbert JONES, urged DAWSON to accept duty on shore and let a younger man take his place in the lifeboat. DAWSON replied, "As a lifeboatman, I cannot draw back"

Mr Robert brown said he was awakened by the sound of the rockets and saw the red flares out to sea from his bedroom window.

He said, "After getting in touch with the night watchman at the Lido I went to shore and tried to make my way to the vessel over the sandbanks."

"He knows every inch of the shore and is a powerful swimmer, he managed to get to within a stones throw of the vessel.

The engines were racing madly and the boat was shuddering from stem to stern" he said, "I went back to shore and later guided the police officers towards the boat, but the water had got deeper, it was impossible to get further. We then tried to launch our lifeboat, which is only small, with a 7hp engine, it couldn't face the heavy swell. We tried rowing but the oars smashed like match wood. All we could do was watch and wade in to rescue anyone we saw coming ashore. We managed to bring out four men who were taken by ambulance to the Southport Infirmary."

These, were Mr J. R. TROTT, R. H. TEIRE, Capt BIBBY and Mr T. WEBSTER.


Interviewed in Southport Infirmary.

Mr TROTT said, " We had strong hopes of being able to refloat on the incoming tide and we had no idea in the blackness we were only 500yds from land. I thought it would have been 2miles away. When the ship filled some climbed to the rigging and mast, I and others clung to the roof of the wheelhouse. I stuck like this for 2hrs, and was then washed overboard.

I swam for shore, it was a dreadful experience I have never been shipwrecked before. I hope it never happens again." Mr TROTT added, touching the wood of the table beside his bed.

Mr William F. CURRIE said: "As the waves broke over the deck man after man was swept away, including our skipper, Capt MACLEOD. We clung on desperately, drenched to the skin and numbed with cold, in the icy wind, until at last the lifeboat came and took us off. We could have not have held on much longer."

Lieut WALLACE said, "When we went ashore we had not the faintest idea where we were. We put the engines full astern in an attempt to drag the vessel off the bank. We used the engines to prevent the vessel from being driven inshore, but the terrific sea burst open an iron-door in a galley way and the engine-room flooded, putting the engines out of order. At 6am we put on our lifebelts and attempted to get the boats away, but they broke away and disappeared. It was not until 7.30am, we realised we were off the Ainsdale shore.

Terrific seas were breaking over the ship at 9am and a lot of men were swept away when a particularly heavy sea swept over the vessel. This left 11 men on the rigging.

"While on the rigging we saw mate after mate being swept away one by one, as the tide rose and the seas became bigger and bigger. Shortly after 9.30am Capt MACLEOD was swept away leaving 6 clinging to the rigging. It was not until afternoon we were taken off by the lifeboat."

Lieut CROSS said the boats were got out almost as soon as the vessel grounded with the apprentices in them, almost as soon as they got in them they broke away and were never seen again.

"All the time in the rigging we thought that no one on shore could do anything for us. Eventually when the lifeboat came near us, WALLACE threw a line and we were taken on board.

During the time on board there was never a whimper or moan from anyone, the apprentices were magnificent. It was a horrible experience to watch the men being washed away one by one without the others being able to save them."

Lieut CROSS paid a glowing tribute to the lifeboat crew.

Mr Robert H. TEIRE, aged 19 of 6 Caithness Dr, Great Crosby, while in the Southport Infirmary had sufficiently recovered to tell his parents of his ordeal. He had been washed overboard when the bridge gave way, and quickly kicked off his sea boots, divested himself of his oilskins and jersey and then found himself half a mile from land battling in a mountainous sea.

His mother said, "He told us that he appeared to be losing his senses as he fought on, but he kept at it. He was in the water 2hrs before he reached the shore and has a hazy recollection of being picked up by a man riding a horse."

TEIRE, Apprentice had 18mths experience of sea service before joining the pilot service 12mths ago. He is an old boy of Merchant Taylor's school.

The Mersey Pilot service has lost pilots of wide experience and apprentices of great promise. Some were special pilots of big companies and had unrivalled knowledge of the river.

The Clan Line has lost two pilots, Mr Thomas L. EVANS and Mr Harold YATES.

Mr T. W. R. COCHRAN of Highfield Cresent, Rock Ferry, was married and leaves two sons, one also a Mersey Pilot, the other in the army, and two daughters.

Mr Richard HOPKINS of Regents Way, Bebington, one of the youngest members, had only just been promoted to 3rd class pilot. He was an old CONWAY Boy and won the King's medal for popularity and proficiency on the school ship.

Mr John CURRIE of Hesketh Ave, Higher Bebington, was the special pilot for the Furness Withy Line.

William H. TURNER, Peter ORSWELL and John K. LANCASTER were three apprentices.

Mr LANCASTER was ranked as senior apprentice and was due to qualify as a pilot next march, he was an old boy of the Waterloo Grammar school.

Capt Alexander MACLEOD, who is lost, was skipper of No1 Pilot Boat and was 58yrs old. He had been employed in the pilot service for 40yrs and was pilot to the Admiralty during the last war. He leaves a widow and 6 young children, 2 boys and 4 girls.

Lieut John WALLACE, a survivor is a well-known yachtsman in Merseyside and North Wales, where each year he has taken part in the Straits Regattas. He is well known in insurance circles. When war broke out he became engaged as an examination officer. It was at the last moment he formed one of the compliment, Mr Ellis JONES of West Kirby, who had previously been on board became ill and Mr WALLACE took his place.

Lieut CROSS is also a prominent figure in the yachting circles and also with the advent of war became an examination officer, he had taken part in the annual midnight yacht race from Rock Ferry to Douglas, for many years.

Survivor, 1st class pilot, E. BIBBY, South Dr, Lipton, Birkenhead, is 48, his wife visited him last night in the Southport Infirmary and he is comfortable.

Survivor, John Malcolm TROTT, 7 Monk Rd, Wallasey, aged 33, is married with one child. His mother of 6 Newall Rd, Wallasey, was overjoyed to learn he was safe, but broke down when she was told, many of his colleagues had drowned.

In December 1917 the Liverpool, No1 Pilot Boat, ALFRED H. READ, struck a mine at the Bar Station and sank in a few minutes, out of 41 crew only 2 were saved.

Survivors being carried ashore by police and ARP wardens

Crew List

The dead


Thomas L. EVANS, 13 Carlaw Rd, Prenton, Birkenhead

John CURRIE, 19 Hesketh Ave, Rock Ferry

Harold P. YATES, 7 Rydal Bank, Wallasey

Thomas W. R. COCKRAN, 38 Highfield Cresent, Rock Ferry

Cecil H. TEBAY, 118 Earlestown Rd, Liscard Wallasey

David WHITEHEAD, 3 Fernhill Rd, New Brighton

Richard N. HOPPINS, 36 Regents Way, Higher Bebington

Apprentice Pilots

John K. LANCASTER, 7 Bedford Dr, Rock Ferry

William H. TURNER, 9 The Woodlands, Upton, Birkenhead

Peter M. HORSWELL, 24 Dunraven Dr, West Kirby


Alexander MC LEOD, Master, 15 Rocky Lane Anfield, Liverpool


Thomas B. WARD, 50 Scarisbrick Cresent, West Derby, Liverpool

Harry HOLLIS, 50 Oulton Rd, Liverpool

Frank S. WADDINGTON, 2 Harrow Rd, Wallasey

John S. TULLY, 26 Rocklands Ave, Lower Bebington

John W. LIDDELL, 32 Gloucester Rd, Wallasey

Engineer, Frederick LEONARD, 49 Mount Pleasant Rd, Wallasey


John F. LAWLOR, 43 Horsley Rd, Sparrow Hall, Liverpool

James LAWLOR Jnr, 255 Upper Frederick St, Liverpool

Messroom boys

Hugh L. JONES, 1 School Terrace, Llanchuddlad, near Holyhead

George L. JONES, 5 St Ives Grove, Stanley, Liverpool


Capt Ernest BIBBY, 42 South Dr, Lipton

Pilot Thomas WEBSTER, 12 Woodlands Dr, Wallasey

Pilot John M. TROTT, 7 Monk Rd, Wallasey

Lieut Arthur Robson CROSS, RNVR, 39 Fairview Rd, Oxton

Lieut John WALLACE. RNVR, 11 Berkley Dr, New Brighton

Pilot W. L. O. THOMAS, 18 Foxhey Rd, Wallasey

Pilot W. F. CURRIE, of Billette, Halewood Rd, Gateacre

Cook, John ROBERTS, 77 Cottesbrook Rd, West Derby

Apprentice R. PATTERSON, 8 Old Farm Rd, Great Crosby

Apprentice Robert Hargreaves TEIRE, 6 Caithness Dr, Great Crosby

Nov 28th 1939

The disaster resulted in 23 of the crew of 33 being drowned.

The indentity of Thomas HAMPSON, the cook of 1 Moorcroft Rd, Huyton being established yesterday when the body was seen by relatives.

The man still missing is Albert L. JONES, 2nd engineer of Whitehedge Rd, Grassendale, Liverpool, his father visited the mortuary yesterday and failed to identify him.


Nov 28th

CURRIE, November 26th, lost at sea, sadly missed by his beloved wife and family, 19 Hesketh Ave, Rock Ferry.

Nov 30th, Dearly beloved husband of Lall CURRIE and dearly loved daddy of Kathleen, John and Eileen, service at Landican cemtery tomorrow, 3.15pm.

HOPPINS, Nov 26th, Tragically, Richard Norman beloved husband of Eunice, 36 Regents Way, Bebington, and dearly loved son of Capt and Mrs E. G. HOPPINS, 1 Castle Rd, Wallasey.

Nov 29th, service at St Hilarys Ch, Claremont Rd, Friday 2pm, Interment at Rake Lane cemetery.

LANCASTER, Nov 26th, Lost at sea, aged 22, John Kenneth, dearly loved only son of Harold and Amy LANCASTER, 7 Bedford Rd, Rock Ferry.

30th Nov, service at St Paul's Ch, Tranmere tomorrow, 11.15am, followed by interment at Landican cemetery

HORSWELL, Nov 26th, lost on pilot boat, Peter only beloved son of Mrs M. HORSWELL, 24 Duraven Rd, West Kirby. Interment at Rake Lane cemetery Wallasey on Thursday next at 2.30pm

TEBAY, Nov 26th, Lost on Liverpool Pilot boat, Cecil Hugh Forrest, dearly beloved husband of Winifred Dean TEBAY and father of Cecil and John.

Nov 30th, service at All Saints Ch, tomorrow Friday, 2.30pm followed by interment a Rake Lane cemetery.

WADDINGTON, Nov 26th on Liverpool Pilot boat, aged 19, Frank Samuel dearly loved only son of Herbert and Bertha WADDINGTON and brother of Edna, 2 Harrow Rd, Wallasey.

Nov 29th service at St Hilarys tomorrow at 3pm interment at Rake Lane cemetery

Nov 30th, WADDINGTON, Nov 26th on Liverpool Pilot boat, aged 19, Frank Samuel beloved grandson of Samuel WADDINGTON and nephew of Mabel and Kathleen, 36 Mill Lane, West Derby.

COCKRAM, Nov 26th in Pilot boat disaster, aged 56, Thomas W. R, dearly loved husband of Mary, 38 Highfield Cres, Rock Ferry, service at St Peters Ch, Rock Ferry, Friday next at 10.30am followed by interment at Bebington cemetery

EVANS, Nov 26th, lost in Liverpool No1 Pilot boat, Thomas Ledsham dearly loved husband of Elma Mary of 13 Carlaw Rd. Prenton, interment at Rake Lane cemetery tomorrow 1.30pm

HOLLIS, Nov 26th, at sea [No1 Pilot boat] aged 21, Harry [Laddie] only and beloved son of Harry and Roberta HOLLIS, dearly loved brother of Vera, 59 Oulton Rd, Wavertree

Nov, 30th, HOLLIS, Nov 26th, at sea [No1 Pilot boat] aged 21, Harry [Laddie] beloved by his sister, Grandpa and Aunty Mary. Interment at Childwall Parish Ch, today at 2.30pm.

LEONARD, Nov 26th at sea on No1 Pilot boat, Engineer Frederick LEONARD the beloved husband of Elsie, 29 Sandrock Rd, Wallasey, service at Emanuel Ch, New Brighton Thurs 1pm followed by interment a Rake Lane cemetery.

LIDDELL, Nov 26th lost in No1 Pilot boat, aged 18, John Wardman, 32 Gloucester Rd, Wallasey, darling son of Jack and Mary and dear brother of Ena.

Nov 30th, service at St Nicholas, Wallasey, tomorrow at 11am and cremation at Landican afterwards.

MACLEOD Nov 26th lost on No1 pilot boat, Alexander Norman dearly beloved and devoted husband of Doris, funeral service at St Margarets Ch Anfield tomorrow 12.45pm, followed by interment at Anfield cemetery at 1pm.

MACLEOD Nov 26th lost on No1 pilot boat, Alexander Norman dearly loved brother of Jean and Edie, 3 Wharfdale Ave. Preston.

TULLY, Nov 26th in Liverpool Bay on Pilot boat No1, aged 19, John Spencer dearly loved only son of Mrs TULLY and Com E. TULLY. RNR, 26 Rocklands Ave, Rock Ferry, service at Rock Ferry Congregational Ch tomorrow at 2pm followed by interment at Flaybrick cemetery

TURNER, Nov 26th, lost in the Pilot boat disaster, aged 20, William Herbert, beloved youngest son of Joshua H. TURNER, 9 The Woodland Upton, interment at Allerton cemetery tomorrow 11am, flowers to Porter's Dingle.

WHITEHEAD David, lost on No1 pilot boat, dearly beloved husband of Marjorie and 2nd son of Mr and Mrs W. WHITEHEAD of Wallasey. Service at the Congregational Ch Rake Lane, tomorrow at 2.15pm followed by interment at Rake Lane at 2.45pm

YATES, lost on No1 pilot boat, aged 47, Harold Percival beloved husband of Beatrice Hay YATES, 7 Rydal Bank, Wallasey, Cremation at Landican cemetery, Friday next at 12.30pm.

November 30th 1939

HAMPSON, Nov 26th lost at sea, Thomas dearly loved husband of Lilian Dudson HAMPSON, Sadly missed, 1 Moorcroft Rd, Huyton

HAMPSON, Nov 26th lost on the CHARLES LIVINGSTON, aged 27, Thomas the dearly loved husband of Lilian and beloved son of Mr and Mrs HAMPSON of 113 Grant Rd, Dovecot [late of 12 Ruby St, Dingle] interment at Huyton churchyard, Saturday next at 10.30am.

LAWLOR, Nov 26th, lost on No1 pilot boat, James dearly loved husband of Mary Jane and beloved daddy of James and Vinny. Interment at Ford Cemetery on Saturday next at 9.30am

WARD, Nov 26th [No1 pilot boat] aged 20, Thomas Victor only son of Thomas and Margaret WARD and brother of Pana of 50 Scarisbrick Cresent, Norris Green, service at Christ Ch, Norris Green, tomorrow at 3pm, interment afterwards at Kirkdale cemetery.

Dec 5th 1939

JONES, Nov 26th, lost on No1 pilot boat disaster, aged 46, Albert Lloyd JONES the dear beloved son of Hugh and Catherine Lloyd JONES of 25 Whitehedge Rd, Grassendale, interment at Smithdown Rd cemetery tomorrow Wednesday at 3,30pm.


Board of Trade wreck report for 'Charles Livingston', 1939


The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the cause of the stranding of the "CHARLES LIVINGSTON" was the lack of proper seamanlike precautions by her Acting Second Master Pilot Ernest Bibby and the Court censures him severely for neglect and incompetence and orders him to pay the sum of fifty guineas on account of the expenses of the investigation.

Board of Trade wreck report 1940


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