Another vessel ashore at South Shields
Gallant rescue of the crew heroic conduct of coastguardsmen exciting scenes

The gale off the north-east coast continues, but with abated force. The storm has now prevailed for four consecutive days. The sea still runs very high, although it has moderated since yesterday. Squalls of hail and rain are frequent, at times so thick as to almost obscure the view seaward beyond the line of the piers. The members the South Shields Volunteer Brigade again remained on duty last night, and a strict lookout for vessels approaching the harbour was kept, Deputy-Captains T. Coulson and G. R. Potts being in charge. It was not until 6 a.m. that the lights any vessel were discerned. She was coming from the southward, but was observed to be too far to the westward for clearing the outer end of the South Pier. The vessel gradually drifted behind the pier, and upon seeing this a signal was made by Robert Wells for the firing of the alarm guns. These boomed forth with a tremendously-loud report, and the brigadesmen already on duty were soon reinforced by officers and fellow volunteers. There was also the usual rush of spectators of both sexes. This was 6 30a.m., and that time faint traces of approaching day were seen to the eastward. The vessel stranded about two hundred yards to the south of the pier, and lay almost broadside to the sea, which broke against her port side, and sent the spray flying over her, sometimes high above the foreyard. The Board of Trade cart containing the rocket apparatus was taken along the sand, and placed in a position opposite the stranded vessel. The only rocket fired was admirably aimed, and went over the vessel's quarter. The line was secured by those on board, and the brigadesmen then sent off the hawser with a whip line. The brigadesmen at once commenced hauling on the line, and pulled it out the hands of the shipwrecked crew. After this a buoy was sent off to the ship with a line, but without the hawser. The crew apparently did not understand this —although the captain states that he did—for they took the buoy off the line, and placed it upon the deck of the ship. The brigadesmen thereupon hauled the hawser off a second time, and this time the craw bent the buoy on to the hawser. Seeing that the crew were failing to make proper use this means of saving their lives, Humphrey Ashton, coastguardsman, gallantly volunteered to be hauled off to the ship with a lifebelt. To offer was to act, and he was soon upon his errand of mercy, taking with a hawser. He was loudly cheered as he went along, now in mid-air and now completely immersed in the broken water. He got safely onboard and at once set about instructing the crew in the use of life-saving apparatus. Thomas Ewart, another coastguardsman, with equal trepidity, volunteered to be hauled off to the ship. He was sent away in the breeches buoy, and after the same ducking his gallant comrade, he too reached the deck of the vessel. Before many minutes elapsed the anxiety of the multitude on the beach was relieved by seeing the breeches buoy on its way shorewards with the first and youngest member of the shipwrecked crew within it. He was rapidly dragged through the surf, and hauled ashore. He proved be a youth apparently about 16 years of age. He was at once conducted to the Life Brigade House. Two other members the crew followed in quick succession, making their escape from the vessel in a similar manner. During the time that elapsed between the firing the rocket and the landing of the youth, the Tyne had been got out of the house on the sands and launched. The tide was at low water at the time, and made the task of launching the lifeboat a matter of great difficulty. She was soon got afloat, however, with the assistance of persons on the beach, and, manned by a sturdy crew was quickly alongside the stranded ship. The remainder of the crew, and the two brave coastguardsmen, got into her, and were bought to land, amidst the wildest enthusiasm. The shipwrecked crew were all received at the Brigade Watch House, where Mr Carmichael, assistant to Dr J. R. Crease, the hon. surgeon of the brigade, was in attendance, and kindly ministered to their comfort, assisted by the Rev. H.W. Farrar, chaplain of the Tyne Mission Ship who did all he could to cheer the men. Benjamin Heron and Mr J. H. Wood also assisted in this matter. Dry clothing supplied to the whole of the men, who been thoroughly drenched, hot coffee and biscuits were also given them, and heartily relished; they afterwards “turned in" to the bunks and were covered with warm bed clothes. They were all young and powerful fellows, and soon recovered from the effects of their exposure.

The vessel proved to be the schooner Fiid, of Egersund, Norway, and was bound from Mistley, to the Tyne, in ballast. The master of the ship, Captain Tamaean, states that he left Mistley on Tuesday last, and fell in with the bad weather the same day off the Outer Dowsing. From that time nothing but stormy weather was encountered, although neither crew nor vessel met with any mishap. When he found that he could not clear the end of the pier, he allowed the vessel run for the beach. The whole of the crew seemed to be heartily thankful for their rescue, and for the kind attention paid to them after being landed. The rocket cart was brought back to its station, which adjoins the Watch House, and the lifeboat was again brought up the beach to her station. The combined parties of rescuers then repaired to the Brigade House, where the roll was called. After this they were regaled with hot coffee and biscuits, and on all hands congratulations were expressed at the rescue of the crew. But for the failure the crew to make proper use of the apparatus, they would have been all landed in a quarter of hour after the stranding of the vessel, but as it was an hour and a half were occupied before the rescue was completely effected. Amongst the officers of the brigade who assembled for duty when the alarm was given were Messrs S. Cottew and T. G. Mabane, captains; and Mr S. Malcolm, hon. secretary. The number of members was very large. The vessel holds together, and should the weather moderate, as at present seems doubtful, she may be got off, and taken into the harbour. After the crew were landed, two screwsteamers were sighted in the offing. They approached and entered the harbour in safety.

South Pier, 11.00 a.m.

The schooner Flid held together well until after the tide had turned. She heeled over to seaward with every wave, and although she seemed once or twice inclined to tumble over towards the beach, she finally lay with her masts right down in the water pointing to the north-east. Twice the waves lifted her to an angle of forty-five, and then she came again without a vestige of mast or rigging. Every wave brings loose wreckage from the unfortunate vessel, The following is a list of the lifeboat crew, who were instrumental in bringing ashore part of the men:— Thos. Marshall and Jacob Hodgson, coxswains; Robert Pickering, John Donkin, Jas. Chamberlain, Thos. Bleasdale, Jas. Nicholson, James Purvis, Richard Thomson, Wm. Marshall, Robert Burn, Henry Marshall, Jas. Stephenson, John Purvis, William Purvis, Martin Purvis (sen ), Martin Purvis (Jan.), James Purvis, James Blair, and Robert Wells.

Source:Shields Daily Gazette 7 December 1872