|Text of S.S. Nailsea Lass Press release by Derrynane Inshore Rescue Service;
S.S.NAILSEA LASS 70th ANNIVERARY COMMEMORATION at RATH Co. KERRY
On the 25th/26th February 1941, a damaged lifeboat with 14 souls on board was spotted by the Lamb’s Head Look Out Post approaching land. The personnel in the L.O.P. reported the sighting and because of the damage to the boat’s steering, fears were expressed that the lifeboat could be dashed upon the nearby rocks.
It was decided that a rescue attempt would be undertaken, amongst the men from the parish were: Patrick Roche, Patrick Looney, Denis O’Shea and Patrick O’Shea, and in the early hours of the 26th February the rescue party set out from Rath pier and succeeded in taking the lifeboat in tow into Rath pier near Caherdaniel. On board were 14 crewmen from the S.S. Nailsea Lass, which had been attacked and sunk by U-boat U-48 approximately 60 miles west of the Fastnet lighthouse. Unfortunately two crew had perished before being rescued and a third passed away following rescue. All three were interred beside the graveyard on Derrynane’s Abbey Island.
Mass on Saturday 26th February on Rath pier, given by the parish priest, Fr. Fergal Ryan, commemorated the 70th Anniversary of that tragic night and the local community took the time to remember all involved especially those from the community who risked their lives to save the crew.
The crew and officers of Derrynane Community Inshore Rescue Service are pleased to be carrying on the services as did their grandfathers on that fateful night in February 1941.
The S.S. Nailsea Lass, a steamship of 4,289 tonnes, registered in Liverpool was part of Convoy SL64s from West Africa and heading to Oban in West Scotland. The convoy comprised of 19 ships was dispersed on the 12th February following attacks by the heavy Cruiser Hipper. The ship was under the command of Thomas L. Broadford and it had a total complement of thirty six crew. On the 24th February, in the evening, the S.S. Nailsea Lass came under attack from the U-boat U-48.
After the crew had taken to the two lifeboats, the ship was sunk by torpedo, 60 miles west of the Fastnet Rock. The Captain and the First Officer were taken prisoner and ended up as Prisoners of War. The damaged life boat drifted north easterly and was spotted by members on duty of the Coast Watch Service on Lamb’s Head who manned L.O.P. No. 33 positioned south east of the village of Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry. Three crew members died following rescue at Rath and two others died in the second lifeboat which made land near Dingle. All died of exposure and are commemorated on Tower Hill Panel 71.
By coincidence, sailing as part of Convoy SL-64s was the S.S. Derrynane, registered in London, which was sunk on the 12th February 1941 by the Cruiser Hipper with the loss of all on board.
Lamb’s Head L.O.P. personnel were:
- Corporal J.O’Connell,
- J. O’Leary.
- E. Moriarty,
- T. O’Sullivan