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19 OCTOBER 1965

North Sea Rescue Bid Hull Men Honoured

 

At a ceremony held in Hull today in the boardroom of the Hull  Fishing  Vessel Owners Association  Ltd, two Hull fishermen  Charles Patrick Vine  26  ( Chuck ) and Frank East 39  ( Bunk ) were honoured for bravery of the highest order ,whilst upholding the finest traditions of the sea.
On the 30th December 1964 their vessel the stern trawler Lord Nelson of Hull was steaming in the North Sea 8 miles off Cape Wrath Scotland in a gale force 8 wind when the alarm was raised that the mate of the vessel  Jack Richard Phillips 33 had fallen  overboard. Several Lifebuoys and an emergency inflatable life-raft where launched but was carried away by the wind and did not reach Mr Phillips who at the time was observed with his head above the water but making no attempt to reach the lifebuoys. Whilst Chuck Vine the cook aboard the vessel watched events unfold, without conscious decision he immediately leapt over the rail of the vessel into the freezing waters below. And struggling against the tide and the wash from the vessel in the freezing temperatures Mr Vine came within feet of Mr Phillips who suddenly disappeared from sight.

 

 

Charles (Chuck) Vine on the left with Frank (Bunk) East right and their wives, pictured with their awards from the Royal Humane Society. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As soon as the alarm was raised that the mate had fallen overboard skipper Norman Longthorpe turned and stopped the vessel, the crew  had thrown lifebelts into the water but struggled to free a life-raft , which when finally  released was picked up by the wind and taken away.  With the high winds, huge swells and freezing water temperatures survival time was only minutes in such conditions. Jack had gone overboard in his full compliment of deck clothing of sea boots, fearnoughts and two thick jumpers which would have  brought the onset of exhaustion on very quickly.  As Chuck Vine the cook of the vessel watched events unfold he kicked off his clogs and went over the side of the vessel swimming towards the mate in the freezing water, but as he got within feet of Jacky Phillips  he disappeared from sight.  Chuck dived  into the darkness of the freezing water  in a hope of  finding and  bringing  jacky  back to the surface, but  he could not locate him.  Jacky must have succumbed to the effects of exhaustion, hypothermia and the weight of his clothing dragging him deeper and deeper into the huge waves.

Chuck  also now suffering the effects of  exhaustion and hypothermia had to battle for his own survival and  headed back towards  the vessel, fellow crewman Bunk East had lowered a rope ladder and placing on a lifebelt went over the side, and assisted Chuck in getting to the ladder and back aboard the Lord Nelson.  Every available blanket and method to warm him was employed but he remembers constantly shivering uncontrollably , of which seemed to stem from inside his bones. 

 

THE SEARCH

Royal Humane Society`s Bronze Medal

The Lord Nelson along with the aid of a RAF shackleton aircraft searched the area for over three hours but no further sightings of the mate where made . The Lord Nelson then proceeded to port  and on docking there was no awaiting ambulance for Chuck Vine. He remembers well the old soiled smelly white fish coat picked up at the fish market and placed around him, before been sent of to the hospital in a taxi. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hero`s Welcome

 

On leaving the hospital penniless and as he had been landed, Chuck Vine  took a train to hull , where on his arrival there was no welcome committee , no trawler owner or even a runner, to enquire on his well being . He took a taxi home, praying that his father would be home to pay his fare.
Almost to the minute that Chuck had left the vessel and jumped into the sea, the owners of the vessel had ceased his pay. This was common practice for trawler owners in cases from desertion and accident to death.

Chuck explained that there was a clip that held the inflatable life-raft, which  due to the maintenance schedule by  the dock workers had been over painted  many times and when crewmen tried to release it, it was fast and did not immediately release. Had the catch released immediately on the inflatable life-raft, Chuck had no doubt  in his own mind that Jack would be alive today.

 

Bunk East was no stranger to the perils of the sea as  22 years earlier as a young deckhand he was the sole survivor of  the sinking of the Hull trawler Rochester  H59  when starting out on a fishing trip  and just out of the Humber she struck a mine and Bunk was blow off the deck into the water, been picked up by the trawler Ipswich.  

Copy of the Royal Humane Society`s Testimonial on vellum  to Charles Patrick Vine

I wish to thank both Chuck Vine & Harry Day for their contributions to this page