The steel steam trawler Windward Ho was launched from the Beverley yard of Cook, Welton and Gemmell on 18th August 1902. She measured 121.8′ x 21.5′ x 11.5′ and weighed 226 gross tons, 78 net tons. She was powered by a triple expansion steam engine by C D Holmes and Co Ltd., Hull delivering 63 net horse power. Owned by S T White and Co Ltd., Hull and registered there as H692 she fished along the east coast and north towards the Faroese and Icelandic fishing grounds. She continued in her role as a fishing vessel after the outbreak of World War One in 1914.
On 9th May 1917 she was en route to the northerly fishing grounds and was approaching Rattray Head under the command of her skipper, George Eadam. He had a crew of seven men aboard. Meanwhile the German mine laying U-boat UC-49 commanded by Oberleutnant Alfred Arnold was patrolling the Scottish east coast. On 3rd May they stopped and sank the Danish sailing vessel Helge in the middle of the North Sea. On 4th May the submarine arrived off Aberdeen laying her deadly cargo of mines close to the approaches to Peterhead harbour. Four days later they stopped and sank the Norwegian steamship Tore Jarl east of Sumburgh Head before returning south to head for home.
George Eadam was seemingly unaware on the newly laid mines off Peterhead and so, on 9th May, his unfortunate vessel collided with one of UC-49’s mines and sank quickly with the loss of all hands. The mines laid by UC-49 claimed a second victim when, on 14th May, the trawler Bel Lily also became a victim of the German’s mines with the loss of another ten fishermen’s lives.
The wreck of the Windward Ho was discovered by Buchan Divers in 2007 who have identified her from her distinctive design and layout. The wreck lies in position 57° 25.500’N, 001° 45.449’W oriented 135/325 degrees sitting upright and in tact in 47 metres with a least depth clearance of 40 metres. The divers indicated that the wreck has some serious explosion damage to her propeller and stern but is otherwise fairly recognisable.
We would like to acknowledge the assistance of Buchan Divers – www.buchandivers.com in the preparation of this article.