Wick Coastguard Rescues. 


George Robb - Double Drama On N-E Coast.


As reported in The Press & Journal,  Tuesday 8th December 1959

Station Officer Eric Campbell

"10 Minutes Would Have Saved The George Robb."

Ten more minutes could have saved the Aberdeen trawler George Robb and the twelve members of her crew. In that time the 91 ton trawler, bound for the fishing grounds, would have cleared the rocky North-East Caithness coast and been able to run before the 100 m.p.h. gale in the Pentland Firth.

ROBBpj.JPG (55995 bytes)

(These pictures are reproduced from the original Press and Journal newspaper - with kind permission.)

The George Robb in her graveyard...two pictures taken at Duncansby Head as the seas boiled around the wreck, pounding her to pieces.

(Click on  picture to enlarge.)

Robbp&j.jpg (20537 bytes)

Instead she was swept inshore and smashed to pieces against the jagged rocks at Duncansby Head with all hands lost. The body of only one of the crew has so far been recovered, but is still unidentified.

With the gale still at its height, sending twenty-foot high waves crashing against the ill-fated George Robb, which lies below the 200-foot high Stacks of Duncansby, people in the little villages between Wick and John O'Groats were last night talking of the mystery of what brought the ship and her crew to their doom. It was the worst disaster on the Caithness coast for years.

The Stacks at Duncansby Head - The Press & Journal

(These pictures are reproduced from the original Press and Journal newspaper - with kind permission.)

LEFT:   The Stacks of Duncansby...the deadly needle rocks which spell danger to any storm-bound ship driven on to them. 

RIGHT:       S/O ERIC CAMPBELL the rescuer who died.

(Click on a picture to enlarge.)

Station Officer Eric Campbell - The Press & Journal

No one knows what went wrong aboard the trawler when she was caught in the teeth of the gale. Was her steering smashed? Did her engines fail? Or did some other fault develop which put her at the mercy of the cruel sea? The only clue was a radio message from the stricken ship about 11.30 on Sunday night (6 December 1959). It read: "Making water rapidly. Require immediate assistance."

This brief message was heard on the trawler band of a radio set belonging to farmer William Ham (30) who lives at Mey, about eight miles from Duncansby. He immediately jumped in his car and drove with his wife Betty (28), a former nurse, to his father-in-law's house at Newhouses, Duncansby, near where the George Robb had gone ashore.

So began a dramatic rescue bid in which men risked their lives to try to save any survivors among the crew of the George Robb. Armed with torches, Mr. and Mrs. Ham, her father, Mr. John Green, (56) her brother, John (26) and her sister. Nina (24), set out to search along the treacherous cliffs. They were joined by a neighbour, Mr. Alex Sinclair (36), contractor.

Mr. Green Sen., told the story of their ordeal as he rested in his house, half a mile from John O'Groats. "It was a terrible night, one of the worst I can remember. We could hardly keep our feet, the wind was so strong. We had to walk across a moor for about a mile, and then we heard a siren."


Further stories of the George Robb can be read 
(with picture's) as reported by:

Additional Reports:

the "John O'Groat Journal" newspaper

The George Robb Skipper

the "Daily Record"  newspaper

What Went Wrong?

the "Scottish Daily Express" newspaper

Damage To Wick Harbour.

the "Bulletin & Scots Pictorial" newspaper

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