HMT James Ludford sank off the Tyne at 55 02’.483 N 001 16’.297 W in 50m on 14 December 1939. Information about the sinking is usually just "detonated a mine and sank off the Tyne" and I could not find anything different. However a lady called Beth Hill wrote to me after reading an article about my last book which mentions the James Ludford because her father, Leading Seaman John Mitchell RNR, was killed on the vessel.
Mrs Hill said:
"On 14 December 1939 JAMES LUDFORD (Lt.Cdr. Harry Richard John Lewis, RN retired) was searching for mines and was some 5-miles east of Tynemouth, when a mine detonated and she sank with the loss of 17 crewmen.
The trawler, which was based at North Shields, had been out searching for mines all day on the 13 December and on the way back to port, another mine was located; however Lt.Cdr Lewis said “We will mark it and take it in tomorrow”. Next morning Leading Seaman John Mitchell from Lossiemouth and a man from Golspie near John O’Groats, were working on deck when Lt.Cdr Lewis informed the crew that the mine was to be taken on board the trawler, which was his idea and not the way the men had been taught to treat mines. Ld/Sn Mitchell then moved away from his colleague and at that moment the mine exploded and blew John Mitchell to pieces. The other man was thrown clear over-board and into the sea, where he grabbed a broom handle and bits of wood from the sinking vessel. A ship then rescued him and he was taken to North Shields The man was given special leave and on arriving home, he told his father what had happened; he then wrote to John Mitchell’s wife’s mother, informing her of the incident and blamed the Skipper for the loss of the vessel and crew; only three out of the twenty men on board survived.
The men who died were:
Allam, George, Petty Officer, P/J 104781, MPK
Bourner, Leonard, Signalman, P/J 109164, MPK
Carpenter, Albert 36yrs, Stoker, P/K 61240, MPK
Crichhton, Alexander 31yrs, Seaman, RNR (Patrol Service), LT/X 7989 C, MPK
Graham, Malcolm, Seaman, RNR (Patrol Service), LT/X 7618 C, MPK
Kay, Charles Henry 36yrs, Stoker 1st Class, P/K 56987, MPK
Lewis, Harry Richard John 47yrs, Lieutenant Commander, MPK
Macarthur, Dugald 46yrs, Chief Skipper, RNR, MPK
Main, Alexander King 23yrs, Seaman, RNR (Patrol Service), LT/X 18718 A, MPK
Matheson, Alexander 31yrs, Seaman, RNR (Patrol Service), LT/X 77650, MPK
Meredith, Matthew, Seaman, RNR (Patrol Service), LT/X 7313 C, MPK
Mitchell, John 39yrs, Leading Seaman, RNR, D/ 6092 D, MPK
Parfitt, Thomas Frederick 44yrs, Chief Mechanician, P/K 26982, MPK
Pocock, Stanley John 40yrs, Stoker 1c, P/SS 121559, MPK
Stowell, William Charles, Seaman, RNR (Patrol Service), P/X 10322 B, MPK
Treagus, Arthur Frank, Stoker Petty Officer, P/K 23304, MPK
Warwick, Frederick 33yrs, Leading Stoker, P/KX 77134, MPK
Bronte’s Kriegsmarine destroyers: Z 4 (Richard Beitzen), Z 8 (Bruno Heinemann), Z 14 (Friedrich Ihn) & Z 15 (Erich Steinbrick) had laid the mines during the night of 12/13 December 1939, under the cover Z 19 (Hermann Künne).
The JAMES LUDFORD was a steel-hulled 438-ton ‘Mersey’ class steam trawler that measured: 45.11m in length, a 7.23m-beam and a 3.96m-draught. Cochrane, at Selby built and delivered her on May 1st 1919 for the Royal Navy as Admiralty Trawler No.4232. The single propeller, using one shaft was powered by a reciprocating (VTE) 600ihp steam engine that used one boiler and gave 11-knots. Normally armament consisted of two 3-inch guns (singles), but this varied.
After the WW1 hostilities ceased, JAMES LUDFORD was laid up in reserve in 1921; then she was brought back into commission in 1930 and was employed as a Mark Buoy Vessel.
In 1939 she was converted to Admiralty minesweeper No.4232 - Port No. T.16.
Probably not many people will find the post interesting or even the wreck, but I thought people should know what actually happened. The wreck should also be treated with some respect as it is a war-grave where 17 men died.