Daily Event for February 15, 2015

Built at William Gray & Company in 1900 for the Pyman Steamship Company of West Hartlepool the steamer Membland was 330' long with a beam of 47' and registered at 3,027 tons. She was owned by the company until Feb. 9, 1915 when she was sold at auction to Macbeth & Company of Glasgow for £30,000. The new owners took possession of the ship at Hull on Feb. 12 or 13th. The ship was inspected and found to be in "as good a condition as you could expect to find a vessel of her age'. It was also noted that the ship carried two lifeboats, two jolly boats and enough lifejackets, distress signals and other safety devices to comply with the regulations of the day.

The new owners planned to sail her to the Tyne and pick up a load of coal for Buenos Aires on the 13th, but a storm prevented her departure for two days. On February 15, 1915 Membland sailed out of Hull into the North Sea, under the control of a Humber pilot. He guided the ship to the Spurn lightship where he disembarked the ship at 10:30 a.m. The pilot reported seeing the ship at 10:40 on course at 8 knots in fine weather. The voyage was about 130 miles and would be overseen by a North Sea pilot, but the ship came to grief for unknown reasons and was never seen again.

It is not known how she sank, but it is assumed that she hit a mine and went down quickly as there were no survivors and none of the boats or life-saving equipment was ever found. In April one Mr. William Wright claimed to have found an oak stave on which was written "Membland, torpedoed engine-room port side. Good-bye dear." The piece of wood was found near Hornsea, which is about half way between the mouth of the Humber and Flamborough Head. It was judged that the piece of wood was a hoax as the hand writing could not be matched to anyone known to have been on the ship (relatives submitted samples to the inquiry). It also appeared to have been in the sea for much longer than two months.

To the best of my knowledge the wreck has not been positively identified to this day. Divers have found wrecks at two positions which they consider could be the Membland. One position given is just off Whitby (north of Scarborough), the other is in the Dogger Bank (which seems very unlikely). The official inquiry thought it to be unlikely that the ship could have passed Flamborough or Scarborough without being seen, but this was just a theory. The board felt that the ship sank before reaching Flamborough. Today, 100 years later, the cause of her loss and the twenty-five souls in her is still unknown.
© 2015 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honour
In memory of those who lost their lives in
SS Membland
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Andersen, E.
Fireman and Trimmer
Danish national
Bergs, Charles
Swedish national
Brotchie, John
Ellis, Leonard J.
Ordinary Seaman
Age 17
Finon, John
Fireman and Trimmer
Freer, Thomas
Able Seaman
Grant, Charles
Guthrie, William
1st Engineer
Guthrie (Mrs.)
Wife of 1st Engineer
Husdell, Edward
1st Mate
Husdell, (Mrs.)
Wife of 1st Mate
Husdell, (child)
Child of 1st Mate
Jansson, John
Fireman and Trimmer
Swedish national
Johnsen, C.
Danish national
Johnson, N.
Norwegian national
Lewis, William
Engineer Assistant
Mather, R.
McDermott, William
Page, R. E.
North Sea Pilot
Porbom, Wemer
Swedish national
Richards, Alfred
Able Seaman
Smith, Alex
Fireman and Trimmer
Tattersall, Richard
Fireman and Trimmer
Taylor, Guy H.
Fireman and Trimmer
United States national
Ware, Percy
2nd Mate

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