I was handed a copy of Sea Breezes dated April 2018 and noticed on page 6, a small article concerning the tragic loss of the ferry, Princess Victoria, January 1953.
I was a boy seaman aged 16 serving about the destroyer HMS Contest based in Rothesay and my duty was ‘Captain’s Flunky’. We had been exercising with submarines also based in Rothesay Harbour, but returned early due to poor weather.
However, events had us returning to sea where I witnessed senior members of our crew wearing lifelines, throwing nets, rope ladders etc keeping some survivors afloat who had been thrown into the sea as their lifeboat crashed into our port quarter. Such high seas. With our searchlights on, we stayed in the area before steaming to I think Londonderry, or maybe Belfast.
At dawn the following morning, we returned to the area and picked up bodies of the dead which were lined up on the quarterdeck. Some were without eyes due to the gulls. I remember a small child in a life-jacket. So sad.
I am 83 years old and live in sheltered accommodation but remember that shocking day every January. Full admiration goes out to those lifeboat crews. Such bravery. I enclose two photos of this tragedy.