Newry Reporter Tuesday March 28th
Thrilling Story of Their Experience.
Carnarvon to Kilkeel in Open Boat.
The Welsh fishermen, J. E.
Jones (25), and a companion, Thomas J. Roberts a boy of fifteen,
both of Tudweiliog, a village near Pwllheli, Caernarvonshire, who
landed near Kilkeel, Co Down, on Thursday night, after thirty-five
hours at sea in an open boat, crossed from Belfast to Liverpool on
Friday night on their way home.
story of their experiences during their ordeal was told to a
“Northern Whig” representative before their departure. It was
learned that Jones had received a severe bruise on his leg; but in
his anxiety to get back to Wales had disobeyed medical advice that
he should have a few days rest in Kilkeel.
the opinion that their most thrilling adventure was at Kilkeel, and
is best described in his own words.
“About 9pm” he
said. “We managed to get down towards Kilkeel. We kept going
backward and forward in an effort to find the best place for
landing. When we thought we had located the most suitable spot we
ran the boat ashore”.
“There was a
very heavy sea at the time, and as soon as we struck ground our
craft capsized, throwing my companion and myself into the water”.
COLLAPSED IN THE
Roberts, who was
thoroughly exhausted, attempted to struggle ashore, but his legs
failed him, and he collapsed in a heap in the water.
“As the boat
lurched over” continued Jones. “I was struck on the head and knocked
almost senseless, but realising Robert’s danger I made a desperate
effort and, freeing myself from the halyard ropes, in which my legs
were caught. I succeeded in dragging him to the beach”.
“Having at last
reached shore we summoned up what little strength we had left and
tottering rather than walking, along the shore for about two hundred
yards we came to Mr. John Donnan’s cottage. Mr. Donnan did what he
could for us, and then took us to the coastguard station, where
Captain P. J. Greene, station officer, took control of us. He got us
some warm clothing and food, and we were put up for the night by
Asked to tell
something of their experiences during their thirty-six hours on the
water, Jones said they had to abandon hope of making Holyhead, for
if they had turned the boat in that direction she would have been
caught broadside by the heavy seas and swamped. There was only one
thing to do, and that was to run the boat before the wind in an
effort to reach the Irish coast.
“We only had two
jibs and an oar to help us,” said Jones, “and as soon as we hoisted
one sail it was torn in shreds.”
to sweep into the boat, and it seemed certain that she must go down,
but taking it in turns Jones and Roberts baled the water out with a
cap and managed to keep the craft afloat.
“You must surely
have thought you would never reach land?” Jones was asked.
“I gave up hope
many times” he replied. “But kept encouraging the boy by saying we
were all right”.
overtook them they were drenched to the skin, and without food or
fresh water they were well nigh exhausted.
said, the first ray of hope came at 5am, on Thursday morning when
they sighted the lights of a passing vessel. They cried for help,
and they believe those on board heard them. The ship circled round,
but unable to locate them proceeded on its course.
After dawn Jones
and Roberts were able to see the Irish coast, but they spent many
hours of anxiety before
they eventually reached Kilkeel. During the day about six vessels
passed, but their efforts to attract attention by hoisting pieces of
the torn sail on the mast proved unavailing.
“We are very
glad to be on land” said Roberts, and Jones joined with him in
expressing their thankfulness to the people of Kilkeel, for the
manner in which they had attended to their comforts.
their arrival in Kilkeel the coastguard sent messages to the homes
of Jones and Roberts, who received telegrams of joy from their
parents on Friday morning.
The Earl of
Kilmorey, who commands the Ulster Section of the R.N.V.R., was among
those who visited the men during their sojourn in the County Down
As they hurried
off to catch the Liverpool boat, Jones jocularly remarked:-
“Remember only good seamanship saved us”. He is of the opinion that
it is the first time that two people have crossed the Irish Sea in a
Many thanks to Catherine Hudson, Kilkeel, for
all her help.