Admiralty, 19th February, 1915

The following Memorandum has been furnished by the Admiral Commanding the East Coast Mine sweepers, detailing the recent mine-sweeping operations off Scarborough.

From the 19th to the 31st December sweeping operations were conducted by the East Coast Mine sweepers with the object of clearing the minefield which had been laid by the enemy off Scarborough.

At the beginning there was no indication of the position of the mines, although owing to losses of Passing merchant ships it was known that a minefield had been laid.

In order to ascertain how the mines lay it was necessary to work at all times of tide with a consequent large increase in the element of danger.

The following officers are specially noticed for their services during the operations -

Commander Richard H. Walters, R.N., A. M. S. Staff, was in charge of the whole of the mine sweeping operations from 19th to 31st December. During this period a large number of mines were swept up and destroyed. By the 25th December, a channel had been cleared, and traffic was able to pass through by daylight.

Commander (now Captain) Lionel G. Preston, R.N., H.M.S. "Skipjack," on the 19th December, proceeded at once into the middle of the area where the mines had exploded to give assistance to the damaged trawlers. He anchored between the trawlers and the mines which had been brought to the surface, and proceeded to sink them.

Lieutenant Godftey Crask Parsons, R.N., H.M.S. "Pekin" displayed great skill and devotion to duty in continuing to command his group of trawlers after having been mined in Trawler No. 58 on 19th December. On this day his group exploded eight mines, and brought to the surface six more, Trawler No. 99 being blown up and Nos. 58 and 465 damaged, all in the space of about 10 minutes.

Lieutenant H. Boothby, R.N.R., H.M.S. "Pekin". When Trawler No. 99 ("Orianda") in which he was serving was blown up by a mine on the 19th December, Lieutenant Boothby successfully got all his crew (except one who was killed) into safety. Lieutenant Boothby was again blown up on 6th January, 1915, in Trawler No. 450 ("The Banyers").

Lieutenant C. V. Crossley, R.N.R., H.M.S. "Pekin." Whilst sweeping on 19th December, three violent explosions occurred close under the stern of his ship, Trawler No. 465 (star of Britain). He controlled the crew, and himself crawled into a confined space near the screw shaft, discovered the damage, and temporarily stopped the leak sufficiently to enable the pumps to keep the water down and save the ship.

Skipper T. Tringall, R.N.T.R., Trawler "Solon," No. 55, on his own responsibility went to the assistance of the Steamer "Gallier," which had just been mined on the night of 25th December. It was low water at the time and dark, and the "Gallier" was showing no lights, so had to be searched for in the mine field.

Skipper Ernest V. Snowline, R.N.T.R., Drifter "Hilda and Ernest," No. 201, carried out his duties as Commodore of the Flotilla of Lowestoft drifters under Chief Gunner Franklin, R.N., in a most satisfactory manner. He kept to his station in heavy weather, standing by the S.S. "Gallier" after she had been damaged by a mine.

Lieutenant W. G, Wood, R.N.R., Trawler "Restrivo," No. 48, did excellent work in going to the assistance of damaged trawlers on 19th December, and performed the risky duty of crossing the mine field at low water when sent to bring in the "Valiant," which had been disabled by a mine.

Skipper George W. Thornton, R.N.T.R., Trawler "Passing," No. 58, displayed great coolness and rendered valuable assistance to Lieutenant Parsons in controlling the crew when No. 58 had been mined.

Skipper William Allerton, R.N.T.R., Drifter "Eager," No. 202, kept to his station in heavy weather, standing by the S.S. "Gallier" after she had been damaged by a mine.

Sub-Lieutenant W. L. Scott, R.N.R., Drifter "Principal," went alongside the Trawler "Garmo" in a dinghy to rescue a man at considerable risk to himself and his boat, as the vessel was floating nearly vertical at the time, with only the forecastle above water. She turned completely over and sank a few minutes after he left her.

Skipper Thomas B. Belton, R.N.T.R., Drifter. "Retriever," No. 223, kept to his station, marking the safe channel for shipping when all other drifters were driven in by the weather.

The following are also commended for Good Service done under dangerous conditions:-
Robert. A. Gray, Engineman, R.N.R. No. 694ES, M.S.Tr. No. 465.
William A. Lewis, P.O., Icl., O.N. 178498, M.S.Tr. No. 450.
Christopher Briggs, Engineman, R.N.R. No. 1542ES, M.S.Tr. No. 450.
William Gladding, Cook, R.N.R. No. 223T.C., M.S.Tr No. 450.
Robert Frost, Second-Hand, R.N.R: No. 81D.A., M.S.Tr. No. 49.
Edwin F. Frankland, Deck Hand, R.N .R. No. 248ID.A., M.S.Tr. No. 49.
George Newman, Engineman, R.N.R. No. 625ES, M.S.Tr. No. 451.
William R. Kemp, Engineman, R.N.R. No. 846ES, M.S.Tr. No. 49.

Source: The Gazette (London Gazette), issue 29076, dated 19th February, 1915.
Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.