Amble harbour tragedy in which three local men died is commemorated 80 years on

A plaque has been installed on Amble Pier to commemorate a Second World War tragedy in which three local men lost their lives.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 4:00 pm

The SS Coquet Mouth was working to keep the harbour’s main channels clear on July 4, 1940, when it triggered a German magnetic mine and immediately began to sink.

Most of the crew were quickly rescued but, sadly, Bob English, James Brown and Sydney Lockey died.

There are no written accounts of the incident but it is said to have been kept secret, with survivors told to remain silent, because the authorities did not want shipping or the crews to feel harbours were not safe.

An information board commemorating the SS Coquet Mouth tragedy has been installed on Amble Pier.
An information board commemorating the SS Coquet Mouth tragedy has been installed on Amble Pier.

Eighty years on, members of the local community felt it was time for some form of visual acknowledgement of the tragedy so local residents and visitors would know about it.

Michael Lewis and Ken Henderson discussed it with a few interested people and the idea of a commemorative information board was broached.

It was felt appropriate to not only give the information on this disaster but also to emphasise the vital role played by merchant ships and seaman during the Second World War - the very reason the dredger was working to remove the sludge and silt and keep the harbour mouth clear.

Cllr Helen Lewis, speaking at a meeting of Amble Town Council, said: “There were plans last year to do a really big information board about the incident and role of merchant seamen.

A plaque has been installed to commemorate the sinking of the dredger, SS Coquet Mouth, in 1940.

"That wasn’t possible due to Covid and things were put on hold but as the end of the year approached we decided to see if a smaller board only on the Coquet Mouth itself could be procured as a temporary tribute until the larger board could go ahead.

“The sign is now in place and actually went up between Christmas and New Year so we got it up in the 80th anniversary year which is what we wanted to do.”

Mr and Mrs Lewis donated the board.

Thanks were given to Warkworth Harbour Commissioners for giving its permission to place the plaque on the pier railings and Amble Town Council for its support with the project.

Amble Pier.

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