50 years ago this week: Friday, February 23, 1962

THE 545-ton motor vessel Kingsgate, of Hull, ran aground on a sandbank in Goswick Bay, north of Holy Island, about 10 o’clock on Saturday night.

Built on the Tyne she was sailing in ballast from Montrose to Sunderland.

The moonlight rescue started from land and sea after coastguards had seen the distress parachute fired from the vessel’s deck and her SOS was picked up.

Holy Island and Berwick boat crews put to sea but the latter was recalled before leaving the harbour.

Coastguards led the Life Saving Apparatus (LSA) crew, which travelled by tractor across several miles of sand guided by the lights of the coaster.

The Holy Island lifeboat was forced to stand off but the land crew managed to get a 100-yard line aboard on the second attempt.

Then they brought six of the crew ashore.

The rescued men were George Madill, AB Leonard Sprawks, AB George Mummery, Percy Howard, AB David Watt and Tony Skroyles.

Soaked and shivering they were taken back to Holy Island on the tractor.

The rescue almost cost the life of the 60-year-old cook Percy Howard, who told a reporter: “The line was tied to the mast. As I got into the buoy I took a headlong launch into the seas and went under.

“I was gasping for breath and almost semi-conscious as I felt myself being dragged through the icy water.

“Then someone grabbed me.”

Howard’s rescuer was PC Jack Douglas, of Scremerston, who had joined the LSA team after a journey across the sands from Goswick Fishery on his motorcycle.

He waded out almost neck-deep in the surf to grab hold of the cook.

“I could see this seaman was in real trouble,” said PC Douglas.

“The other men were busy operating the apparatus so I decided to wade out to him.”