Friday, 1 October 2010

Dunkirk wreck found

Tomorrow I'm spending the day on Paddle Steamer Waverley, so one story in today's news seemed particularly well-timed. The wreck of a less fortunate paddle steamer, sunk in 1941, has been discovered by divers.

HMS Snaefell was built in 1907 for pleasure trips around South Wales. Owned by the Barry Railway Company, its original name was PS Barry. It served in the First World War carrying both prisoners and troops, before returning to civilian life as HMS Waverley. When the Second World War broke out, it returned to duty under its final name. A Dunkirk 'little ship', it safely evacuated over 1,000 people. A year later, though, it was sunk by a direct hit near Whitley Bay. Shell cases around the site indicate that it had done its best to fight back.

The wreck has now been rediscovered by the Silent Running Dive Team and skipper Allan Lopez - not north of the Tyne, where it was believed to be, but off the coast of County Durham. It is a war grave - three men died when it sank - so will be left intact on the sea bed.

Further reading: The Guardian; ChronicleLive.

1 comment:

Keith at Tregenna said...

The Paddle Steamer Barry

Our Paddler the Barry was a beauty in her day,
She cut the cloth and sails were off, she was out to pay her way.
Sailing from her birth place as a lady of the sea,
A Princess of our channel roads she was born to be.

Designed to give much pleasure, she sailed from Barry Port,
A fine young Lady of the waves, she never danger sought.
The roads of the Bristol Channel saw her Pleasure days,
When her Country called her, she voyaged in defensive ways.

To the early conflict she bravely sailed from Wales,
Returned in all her glory via the Dardenelles.
Mentioned in dispatches, she had a tale to tell,
This saddened grey old lady, had seen a bit of Hell.

Of the town’s own paddler and of her claims to fame,
She once cruised just the channel then safely home again.
She was our favourite butterfly boat, well known in her day.
Meant only to came out in summer, in a butterfly way.

There were many changes in those earlier days,
Her make up was updated, painted many ways.
Her adoptions also saw a change in her very name,
From: Barry to Barryfield, to Waverley and back again.

Her bravery long forgotten, heroic actions passed,
She was lost in 41, the conflict was to be her last.
She paddled to save our Nation, for Country and the King,
A beauty built for Barry Town proudly did not give in.

Her demise saw her as Snaefell, a heroine in her way,
A little ship at Dunkirk she helped to save the day.
Just a short year later the Luftwaffe made her pay.
She has become a war grave, destined to end this way?

It seems quite normal now to get on with modern life,
Forgetting, past achievement the old day’s troubles and strife.
Forgetting Miners Fortnight and the Barry’s excursion ride,
A day out on a steamer, if wet you sailed inside.

Words KG.

A near 10 foot working model of the Barry is currently on display at the County Library, King Square, Barry Dock.