Wick Coastguard Rescues. 


George Robb -  "Cruel Cliffs Of Death." 


As reported in The Bulletin and Scots Pictorial - Tuesday 8th December 1959


Station Officer Eric Campbell

 "Cruel Cliffs Of Death."

Only one body has been washed up at Duncansby Head, Caithness, where the whole crew of 12 were drowned yesterday when the Aberdeen trawler George Robb was wrecked in a hurricane. Aberdeen Town Council decided yesterday to set up a relief fund for the relatives and dependants of the crew, and to give 2,500 to the fund.

A gallant attempt to reach the crew of the trawler as it was being pounded by the mountainous seas, was made by the Longhope lifeboat from Orkney.  With the Wick lifeboat unable to leave harbour, because of the gale and the immense breakers at the harbour entrance, the Longhope lifeboat made a perilous crossing of the Pentland Firth. It got to within 300 yards of the stricken vessel, but could approach no farther because of the danger that it, too, might be thrown on to the rocks.

The first distress signal from the George Robb came shortly before midnight on Sunday. Immediately all rescue teams with rocket saving apparatus were assembled.


George Robb - Bulletin (Original picture reproduced  with kind permission.)


(Click on picture to enlarge.)

The trawler's distress signal was also picked up on the trawler radio wave-band by a son-in-law of Mr. William Green, of John O'Groats. He immediately informed Mr. Green, and realising that the ship must be less than a mile away they made their way along with other members of the family along the cliffs.

Mr. Green told "the Bulletin," that they saw the trawler at the foot of the almost 200ft. high cliff, being pounded by the heavy seas. "A hurricane was raging and giant seas were pouring over her, but we could not see any of the crew," he said. "As I flashed my torch towards the trawler, it answered with four blasts on its siren. It was impossible to get down the cliff face. It was as much as one could do to stand against the fury of the storm."

Inspector Woolcombe, coastguard service, said the trawler was located by searchlight. "we fired a rocket line but there was no one on deck to take it," he added. "It is most unlikely that anyone was alive on board at the time."

When there was no response to the rocket line, it was decided to suspend rescue operations until day-break.

he crew of the George Robb were:-
Marshall Ryles, 525 North Anderson Drive; Peter Dempster, 56 Alexander Drive, Hayton; B. Saborowski, 62 Crombie Road, Torry; William McKay, 67 Strathmore Drive, Mastrick; R. Dugan, 41 Arbroath Way, Kincorth; J. Findlay, 47 Davidson place, Mastrick; J. C. Adams, 54 Marchburn Crescent, Northfield; D. Lockhart, 72 Grampian Place, Torry; A. Smith, 41 Alexander Drive, Hayton; George Duffy, 42 Menzies Road, Torry; all of Aberdeen.

W. Farquhar, 1 Salter Crescent, Portknockie, and W. Duthie, 4 Beacon Cottages, Cairnbulg.

Skipper Marshall Ryles, who was 31, took over command of the George Robb when she was recently converted to diesel. Married with four of a family, he told his wife in a radio-phone call a few hours before disaster overtook the vessel that the weather was very bad and that he was in for a rough night.

Peter Dempster, the 24-year-old mate of the trawler, was married only four months ago. He had been going to sea since the age of 15.

Polish-born Bruno Saborowski, had been sailing on Aberdeen trawlers since his demobilisation 12 years ago. Mrs. C. S. Graham, his landlady, said yesterday, "I think his pet spaniel, Teddy, knew there was something wrong. He had been uneasy all night."

Albert Smith (45), married with four of a family, holds a mate's certificate, but sailed as a deckhand because he had been unable during the past few weeks to get a mate's berth.

James Findlay (30), also married with four children, had been involved in two previous ship-wrecks.

David Lockhart, deckhand, lived with his mother at 72 Grampian Place, Torry. A brother lost his life in an accident at an electricity sub-station in Aberdeen in January this year (1959).

John Christie Adams (45) leaves a family of six. He served on minesweepers during the war.

George Duffy (25) the only son in a family of five, had an artificial limb. He lost a leg when he was five. He had been at sea since he was 17.



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

Additional Reports:

the "Press & Journal" newspaper

The George Robb Skipper

the "John O'Groat Journal" newspaper

What Went Wrong?

the "Daily Record"  newspaper

Damage To Wick Harbour.

the "Scottish Daily Express" newspaper

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