On the Captain’s order the five women were taken off first.
It involved a nerve wracking climb down a swaying rope ladder into the pitching lifeboat. There was a danger of being crushed as the swell continuously rammed the lifeboat against the side of the ship. Waves lashing against the seaward side flung spray up over the top deck which poured down on top of them.
Stewardess Robert later said she found this a more harrowing experience than leaving the sinking Titanic.
The surgeons and senior medical staff were next to leave. The crew was ordered to remain until last, but three men pushed forward and clambered down into the lifeboat. Captain Nielson later described them as “cowards”.
Langlands was anxious to get away from the buffeting against the ships side and as there were now seventeen people onboard, in addition to his crew of fourteen, he made for the shore where willing hands helped the rescued seventeen on to The Scar.
The Coxswain immediately turned the boat for a second trip. Again there was a ceaseless battering of the waves and, as he had feared, the two holes below the waterline had been enlarged.
Eighteen more men were taken off, including Fred Reddiough and Anthony Waterworth.
The lifeboat was almost awash. The second journey was very much slower than the first, and as they entered shallow water, submerged rocks inflicted severe damage to the already weakened hull.
A further trip was clearly suicidal. After conferring with Captain John Milburn, Lloyd’s agent at Whitby and a senior member of the Lifeboat Committee, it was reluctantly decided that the John Fielden was of no further use.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981