Whitby Coastguard Station is on top of the East Cliff, 200 feet higher than the piers, so Albert Jefferies, the coastguard on duty saw the ship 20 minutes before the sentry, at 3:40 a.m. He could see that the ship was about a mile out from the harbour mouth, not heading straight for the pier as the sentry thought. She was in the wrong position and the course she was travelling would take her straight on to the tip of Whitby Rock. This dangerous hazard was marked with a bell and the light buoy, but because of the war the bell had been silenced and the light turned off. Jefferies acted promptly. He began signalling with a morse lamp to warn the ship of the danger. As soon as he thought they would hear it, he switched on the foghorn.
For thirty long minutes Albert Jefferies kept on signalling. The Rohilla did not alter course, reduce speed, or give any indication that the danger was realised.
© Ken Wilson 1981