This vessel was built to the order of the Admiralty by Scott & Son of Bowling (Yard No.275) and launched as the John Langshaw on 20 March 1919. She was built to the specification of a Strath class steel steam trawler with dimensions of 115.8′ x 22.2′ x 12.2 and tonnage of 199.8t gross, 87t net. Powered by a triple expansion steam engine, made by Messers. W H Allen of Bedford developing 75nhp. Her offical number was 143257.
The picture above is of the Strath class trawler William Griffen also built by Scott & Son of Bowling and completed in 1918 (Yard No 272).
She was completed too late for action in World War I and was sold to the Crawford Fishing Company of Fleetwood and re-named Ethel Crawford (FD 404). She spent the remainder of her life working as a commercial trawler, changing hands in 1924 and 1932 between Aberdeen owners registered as A36, finally being sold to the Ardrossan Trawling Co. Ltd in 1941. Her offical number was 143257.
It was under this ownership that found the Ethel Crawford and her crew of ten, working south west of Ailsa Craig on 20 April 1945. Two days previously the German mine layer U218 had entered the Clyde and laid a pattern of 15 mines in the channel to the west of Ailsa Craig.
The exact circumstances of her loss are unclear, and we have to assume that she either hit or snagged one of the mines with her nets, resulting in the loss of the vessel and all her crew.
There is a ironic twist to this story that was to see the U218 return to the Clyde shortly after the German surrender. She arrived in early June 1945 where she was interned in Loch Ryan until later that year when she, along with around 115 others U-boats were towed off the north west coast of Ireland and scuttled as part of Operation Deadlight. U218 sank to her watery grave on 4 December 1945 and now lies approximately 142 km west of the Ethel Crawford, off Malin Head. Both wrecks are intact and periodically visited by divers.
The Wreck Today
The wreck in position 55° 13.058’N, 05° 15.057’W while not positively identified as the Ethel Crawford is indeed the remains of a trawler in a number of sections.
The two main sections are focsle and the stern section from boiler to rudder which sits upright. The focsle is lying on its starboard side and is covered in a net which rises up around 2 metres. Seabed depths around the wreck are 49-50 metres, the wreck rises around 3-4 metres at maximum. The wreckage is oriented 140°/320°.
For some reason there is one member of the crew missing from the memorial plaque, namely her Skipper – Arthur Middleton Scales (53) of Edinburgh. More details on the crew are in the first newspaper cutting above.