British Steamship TREVEAL of 5200 tons. – Captain C. Paynter and a crew of 43. Cargo Manganese Ore & Jute. Good detail in Dive Dorset: 208 p153; Clarke: GPS; 50 35.15N; 02 04.90W. & LARN. Comprehensive detail in Smith: pages 30-33. Salvaged by the GLENMORE. Times
Whilst all wrecks are tragic, this was particularly so, because of they were so unlucky with the weather and badly let down by the local services.
TREVEAL arrived at Portland at 6 o’ clock on the evening of the 09/01/1920 to seek a pilot due to the appalling weather. None was available and despite his misgivings he was ordered by the ships agent to continue his voyage. Once out again in the open sea the Captain Paynter radioed for the assistance of a tug. For some unaccountable reason the Admiralty tug, from the Naval dockyard was currently unavailable and the Weymouth tug was undergoing repair. TREVEAL was being driven towards St Alban’s Head, finally striking the Kimmeridge Ledges near Chapman’s Pool. Then followed an exchange of messages with the Coastguard at St Alban’s Head. The Captain said he was ‘ashore hard and fast’ and asked if there was a good landing place nearby. To his amazement he was told “Yes, straight ashore”, but you had better wait till daylight. The Coastguard presumably meant Chapman’s Pool! The Captain then tried to contact the Naval Officer at Portland saying there was still no sign of the tug. In fact it was midnight before the tug PILOT finally left port. They failed to find TREVEAL and were forced to return to Portland. They tried again at 5.30 a.m., found her, but failed to get near because of the sea state, and once again returned. Meanwhile a Weymouth tug PETREL managed to tow the Weymouth lifeboat FRIERN WATCH, a 12-oared Watson to the area. Again it was impossible to get close because of ferocious seas. Just after 9 o’ clock the Captain sent his last message “For God’s sake send us some assistance”.
The crew finally decided to abandon ship in the only two lifeboats that were left, both were swamped and capsized.
Thirty seven crew were drowned in Chapman’s Pool while the wreck remained intact less than a mile from shore in about 48 feet of water! Only two local men gave assistance, the Reverend Horace Piercey, the young curate of Worth Matravers, and a young fisherman, Frank Lander. They were awarded bronze medals by the Royal Humane Society. Only seven seamen were saved including a 15 year old cabin boy. Two unidentified bodies were buried in the local churchyard twenty others were returned to their families at the expense of the steamship company.
Later the cargo of Jute and Manganese was salvaged. Detail and photographs in LePard pages 44 & 45. Fredrick Kelly of HMS VICTORY, stationed with the local Coastguard was court martialled on 13/08/1920 for negligence of duty in that he had not at once taken the necessary steps to inform the authorities of the windward lifeboat that the TREVEAL was ashore. He was dismissed his ship and severely reprimanded.
1 – Main Source: The Loss of the Treveal, Dorset Shipwreck Mystery by David Pushman. Downsway Books, ISBN: 0951762125. 1999.
2 – Hampshire & Dorset Shipwrecks by Graham Smith.
3 – Legg: p40-46; Burnett: p52 & LR: 1919-20 No. 28577(T) See also GLENMORE which sank 24/03/1922 while salvaging the jute.
Day of Loss: 10
Month of Loss: 1
Year of Loss: 1920
Longitude: 50 35.15
Latitude: 02 04.90