Wick Coastguard Rescues. 


Leith coaster - Servus.


As reported in the  "The Press and Journal" - Tuesday 8th December 1959.

Station Officer Eric Campbell


"New Double Drama On N-E Coast."

A  new sea drama unfolded last night off the death coast of Caithness, and another off the Buchan coast. A crippled steamer, gripped by the storm, drifted helplessly, then ran aground just a few miles from the spot where the Aberdeen trawler, George Robb, was wrecked with the loss of her crew of twelve less than twenty-four hours before.

She is the 360 ton Servus, of Leith, which was reported aground shortly before midnight on the rocky coast near Latheronwheel. It was while other vessels struggled to put a tow line aboard the Servus that word came of the third vessel, in distress off the Buchan coast. The storm's third victim, believed to be the Swedish freighter, Anna, was swept ashore at St. Combs, near Fraserburgh. The crew appeared to be in no immediate danger. The Servus ran into trouble when a pipe leading to an oil pump broke.

Engaged in the heartbreak struggle to put a tow line aboard her five miles off the Caithness coast south of Wick last night was the fishery research vessel, Scotia. The Scotia had the helpless vessel in tow. Then the line broke and repeated efforts to put a fresh line aboard failed until, with just one rocket left, the Scotia could only stand by the drifting Servus and wait for help.

Another Aberdeen fishery research vessel, Explorer, arrived on the scene, along with the Aberdeen trawler Aberdeen Progress. Cromarty and Buckie lifeboats also raced to the spot as the Servus set off distress flares, which were seen from Latheronwheel. Helmsdale lifesaving company were called out. The Aberdeen Progress tried to put a line aboard the Servus but without success as the stricken steamer continued to drift towards the coast.

The nine man crew of the Servus is believed to include several from Moray Firth ports. Mr. W. Lyall, manager of Edinburgh Shipping Company, her owners, said last night her skipper is Captain James Pirie, a Kincardine man.

Among the other members of the crew are believed to be three Rosehearty men. Alexander Crawford, 29, Pitsligo Street, and two brothers, Alexander Downie, 2 Queen Street, and Forbes Downie, 10 Dingwall Street.

Coastguards and lifesaving apparatus crews fought in the teeth of the gale to get a rocket line on board the stranded freighter Anna which was driven mercilessly ashore on the beach below the fishing village of St. Combs. And as they struggled in appalling conditions hundreds of villagers left their homes as word spread round the community of the drama on their doorstep.

They peered through the stinging rain and blown sand to catch a glimpse of the vessel which was firmly aground 200 to 300 yards off the shore. With the receding tide the crew, some of whom could be seen moving about the superstructure, were believed to be in no immediate danger. But some of the villagers who had watched the vessel being driven ashore said she had taken a terrific pounding in the angry seas.

Battens from her deck cargo of timber were strewn along the St. Combs beach. As the lifesaving crews from several centres raced to the scene, motorists drove their cars and vans into position on the sea front and directed their headlights on the stranded ship.

Attempts were made by the ship's crew to communicate by flashlamp with those on the shore, but no one could interpret the messages. Peterhead and Fraserburgh lifeboats were summoned but were unable to put to sea because of the storm. A message was then passed to Buckie lifeboat, which had been standing by the crippled Servus off Caithness, to go to St. Combs.

Further stories of the Servus can be read (with photo's) as reported by:
"The Scottish Daily Express" newspaper     Back to Wick Rescue's page


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