Lost trawler crew remembered

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Pictured left to right, Mayor of North East Lincolnshire Cllr Ian Lindley and Madam Mayor Mrs Helen Lindley, Richard Jones, historian, and Mrs Lucia Bird and Simon Bird, Regional Director Associated British Ports (Humber).

A plaque commemorating the loss of an ex-Grimsby trawler in World War Two has been unveiled at Associated British Port’s Port of Grimsby.

The HMT Othello was lost on 11th April 1941 in a tragic incident involving a Bridlington vessel, the Yorkshire Belle. The story was uncovered by author Richard Jones while researching for his upcoming book about the Yorkshire Belle boat sinking in a mine explosion in the entrance to the Humber Estuary.

Simon Bird, Regional Director for the Humber said: “We’re delighted that we could assist Richard in giving the plaque an honourable home at the port from which it sailed. It was appropriate it was placed next to our Royal Naval Patrol Service memorial, which lists those men and vessels who were lost during the second world war.

The Othello is named on there and was one of many trawlers requisitioned by the Royal Navy and used in minesweeping and boom defence vessel duties along the east coast. The RNPS was sometimes known as Harry Tate's Navy or Churchill’s Pirates, and they lost more vessels than any other branch of the Royal Navy.”

Richard Jones, author said: "I am extremely pleased that Grimsby is recognising this forgotten tragedy, and this could not have been done without the help of ABP who gave me permission and the UK Operational Support Services Ltd who paid for the plaque itself. To have a memorial that is now twinned with that of the Yorkshire Belle's in Bridlington now makes sure that the sinking of these two vessels will always be remembered."

Tragically 12 people onboard the Othello were killed, and their bodies were never found. The victims who lost their lives on the Othello are as follows: Keith Bean, Donald Blair, William Coupe, Herbert Crumpler, David Jones, Albert Laken, Fredrick McDonald, Frank Roper, James Russell, Walter Trench, John Wakefield, and Albert Williams.

Grimsby served as a minesweeping base in both world wars with trawlers being turned into minesweepers and boom defence duties. The first trawlers to be trialled for such duties were gifted to the admiralty in 1908 by George Alward, who was based at the port.

The FV Othello was owned by Forward Steam Fishing Company Ltd. until its requisition in 1939, and before that had been owned by Alfred Bannister (Trawlers) Ltd who it was built for in 1907. She was already a veteran of the 1914-19 campaign for the Royal Navy before being returned to her owners.

Over 800 trawlers from Grimsby and Hull fishing fleets were used in the Royal Naval Reserve, and over 200 were lost. The Othello had been working as a boom defence vessel, whose primary function was to lay anti-submarine nets in the Humber.

The plaque is displayed on a concrete plinth within a gravel garden created by ABP’s civil engineering team.