At low tide, Harry Barter decided to make the attempt to swim for shore.
It was the terrifying choice that faced every man left on the Rohilla – whether to stay on board, or to take a chance in the rough sea. Neither prospect offered any apparent advantage. They had seen what happened to the men on the stern, and sooner or later they were on. They had also seen swimmers swept away by the current or dragged lifeless and bleeding from the water’s edge.
Harry was a strong swimmer and quickly covered the distance. He was within a few yards of safety, and people were already wading out to help him ashore, when a huge wave dashed him against a submerging rock and he was killed instantly.
A native of Worcester, he was just 28. After marrying a girl from his home town he obtained a job as a railway shunter in the goods yard at Barnoldswick Station. They rented a small terrace house in Skipton Road but the war started soon afterwards.
The body was recovered and buried in the family grave.
William Anderson and Buck Eastwood decided to make the attempt at the same time as Harry, and they all entered the water together. William joined up with a man named Moore and they swam off together. Moore’s body was washed up later. William was never seen again. Buck could make no progress and was hauled back on deck.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981