Monday, June 10, 2013

Anstruther ....sun, sea and history

  The  sun was stronger than I expected … the air was so still …there was a calmness I had never before experienced when sitting watching the harbour  and its boats at Anstruther …
….and then I realized what the difference was …no seagulls.

                                             (Click on the collage strips for a better look)
 Whether it was too early for them or that they had already got used to visitors obeying the notices not to feed them …I really do not know but there was not one in the sky or on the paths around the waters edge.
The stillness was unbelievable …the few marshmallowy clouds  that sat suspended against the bright blue background, appeared to be static. I intently stared at them, with markers in my vision, not believing that they were actually still…but they were.

 I had come out on this glorious day to enjoy Anstruthers renowned Fish and Chips but it was far too hot …I had stopped for a coffee and scone at the Boat house (last in the row of the photos).... and wondered what to do about lunch  as I watched some men at work….but I felt it would definitely include ice cream …preferably lots.
 I wandered up and down the harbour and noticed a sculpture I had not seen before….but I cant find any information about it …I assume it represents the nets that were used by the Drifters that caught the herrings.

 Here is a herring boat that belongs to the Fife Fisheries Museum …and a little about it.

 ‘The Reaper’ was a herring Drifter built in 1902.… the name coming from the nets that were used. The boom in herring fishing was around 1907, when they had become a delicacy in Europe. They could be caught off the east coast of Scotland during winter and spring months …. and the west and northern waters during the summer. The size of the boats were important as over a certain size there was a tax levied  on the owner. The boats eventually followed the shoals  even down to Yarmouth in England …and the Herring lasses followed the boats to the ports at which they would dock. The herring is a fatty fish and need to be gutted and cured faster than  white fish. These girls came from fishing villages all over Scotland …starting to learn the trade around the age of 15.
While the fishing on the whole was suspended in most waters during WWI, the seamen’s knowledge of the waters was used by the government, against enemy shipping.

Lastly a memorial …  previously missed by me… commemorate those who lost their lives in ‘The Battle of May Island’. This I had to read up on when I got home ….yet another  wartime secret.

 Most of the facts of this tragedy were only released in the 1990’s as it was a series of catastrophic accidents which had no enemy involvement….not even the relatives of those who perished knew anything …. they were told that their loved ones had been lost in active service.
Most of those who perished were the crews of K-class submarines …these were steam powered vessels with funnels to enable them to move at the speed of  surface ships but the funnel then had to be dismantled and stored, when they needed to submerge .

The account of the disaster is as  follows ….
On the evening of 31st January 1918, nine Submarines, accompanied by Battleships, Cruisers and Destroyers, left their winter base at Rosyth to rendezvous with Admiral Beatty’s fleet . Blackout regulations were in force as was radio silence.
Near the Isle of May, just across the water  from Anstruther, mine sweeping trawlers were patrolling , unaware of the movements of the submarines and their convoy….the scene was now set for the ensuing disaster.
The mine sweepers crossed in front of the fleet and the confusion began. ….K22 collided with K14 causing serious damage  ….then K22 was struck by a battle cruiser ….another cruiser hit K17 which then sank but her crew escaped into the water ….K3 and K4 stopped ... but K6 ploughed into K4  ….K4 was also struck by K7 which resulted in K4 sinking with no survivors. The last cruel blow was that some of the surface ships ploughed through those who had survived the K17 sinking, as they could not be seen.

 On that night over 100 died a few miles off Anstruther but at the time few, if any, who lived along that stretch of coast knew of what happened ...and it was kept a secret for a very long time. The final toll was higher…. closer to 200 …due to deaths from injuries.
The memorial was erected 84 years after the event  ….honouring those who perished in what was eventually known as ‘The Battle of May Island’.

On a lighter note ….the gulls appeared as if from no where ….early in the  afternoon.

Hope you enjoyed my day out in the sun ....rare up here I have to say ... and the little bit of history thrown in .... hope you found it interesting .
Take Care. xx


Rian said...

Love this post, Angie. And your pictures and little bit of history. Is all this close to where you live? It's beautiful... and I love seagulls. So glad they finally showed up.

BumbleVee said...

Your writing is descriptive ...I feel as though I were there with you.

Such a clear day! And the peace and serenity with no wonderful...

What a sad story ... and as usual, nobody owning up to it til somebody discovered it or made people aware of it and then... something has to be done.... finally..... but, how sad.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Angie, great post, beautifully written and full of really interesting facts too. I've been to Anstruther, a few years back, and dined at the famous fish & chip shop too. My late mother-in-law came from a boat building dynasty and she used to tell me stories of launching the boats her father built, and the herring fishing - she called them the 'silver darlings'. Indeed, I attended a boat launch at Buckie and danced at a few of the annual Fishermen's Balls - those were the days :) Elizabeth xx

Arkansas Patti said...

What a tragic happening and to think the families of those men never knew.
When you mentioned the lack of sea gulls, I find it eerie when there are no birds where they should be. It is like they know something we don't.

Carmen said...

The seagulls came out for lunch ;)

What a terrible and senseless tragedy. It's amazing what comes out years later. Thank you for this post Angie, I always love your day out posts - you find out so much about where you visit :)

okienurse said...

awesome post Angie! I loved all the pictures and the description of the lost submariners is so sad. Isn't it funny what gets covered up and then when it eventually surfaces gets swept under the carpet. Sad. Thanks for sharing.

Gill Edwards said...

what a great post Angie. I love all the stories as im a big history buff. What a tragedy that was and sadly not the only one like it during wartime.
It looks a lovely place to live.

Gill x