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Knott, G., Master, 1915

Illustrated Chronicle 02/06/1915

Competency Certificate

On Tower Hill Memorial is the name of Master George Knott, serving with the Mercantile Marine who died 28/05/1915.

Greorge Knott was born at 44 Nile Street, North Shields, Northumberland, on the 6th January 1871, and was baptised on the 14th February 1871, at Christ Church, Preston Road, North Shields, to a Thomas Knott, [born Howdon, 1846], who married a Anne Nott [nee McKay], in 1868, she was born in North Shields 1850.

Thomas Knott was born at Main Street, at Howdon, Tynemouth, one of seven? children to a master butcher John, [born 1811] and Isabella, [born 1814], in 1846. In 1841, Thomas and Isabella were residing at Brunton Street, Wallsend.

In 1881, George now 10, was residing at 4 Tynemouth Road, with his sister Isabella. His father Thomas was an Engine Fitter.

On the 29th March 1895, George is issued with a second mate Competency Certificate from the Board of Trade, then issued with Certificates of Competency as First Mate on a Foreign Going ship on the 25th September 1896 and the 23rd November 1900

George Knott was married on the 16th December 1895, at Christ Church, to Jane Annie, [nee Gibson], born 1874 North Shields. The family had resided at Kensington House, Wrekenton.

George Knott was employed by the Messrs Runciman and Company for many years and served at least eight years as a Captain.

In 1901 George's family was residing at 38, Nelson Street, North Shields, Tynemouth, Northumberland, William Rainey Knott born at Acaster Malbes, a village near York, 5th May 1897, Esther Davidson born 1899, Robert Johnson, born 20th May 1900, and Jean Gibson Knott, born 1910, were born at North Shields. There was a 5th child but it died.

By 1911 the family are residing at 3 Grey Street, North Shields, Northumberland.

On the 13th/14th February 1915, the Newcastle steamer, Blakemoor, ship number 114820, [built 1901 on the Wear], went ashore on the rocks at Speeton, near Flamborough, at 5 am on Sunday, the 14th February due to the very heavy weather which was reported all around the British Isles at that time. The Blakemoor was bound from London to the Tyne in ballast, and the master was a Captain Knott. He was rescued along with the 21 members of his crew by the Speeton Rocket Brigade. The master Captain Knott had said that he did not leave the bridge from early Saturday morning until the vessel beached. The vessel went ashore under the 400 feet towering cliffs, and he and his men were brought up safely up the cliffs and taken to Speeton village.

Rev. D. Youngson has issued the following:

George Knott
Mercantile Marine Master SS Spennymoor
A Master Mariner of 3 Grey Street, North Shields, he was Initiated in Lindisfarne Lodge No. 2762, North Shields on the 21st November 1912; Passed 31st January 1913 and Raised in to St. George’s Lodge No. 431, North Shields, on the 13th March 1913 (Grand Lodge records state that he was Raised in Lindisfarne Lodge No. 2762, North Shields on the 4th March 1913).

He died on the 28th May 1915 aged 44 and is Remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial, London.

The SS Spennymoor (2733 grt) owned by W. Runciman & Co of Newcastle was captured and torpedoed by the German U Boat U-41, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Klaus Hansen, fifty miles south west off Start Point on a voyage from Sunderland to an unknown destination [Cardiff] with the loss of 5 lives.

He was Master of the S.S. Spennymoor, a collier built in 1915, on the River Wear by J. Blumer & Co, and owned by Moor Line Ltd, (W. Runciman & Co). On the 28th May 1915 it was on its maiden voyage from Sunderland to Cardiff when it was sunk by the German submarine UC-41, fifty miles southwest of Start Point, Devon. George was one of five crew members who died.

The press reported at the time:- The submarine ordered Captain Knott to launch the boats, and then started to bombard the steamer, firing about 20 shots at her. Later, when the steamer was well riddled, a torpedo was fired and struck her about amidships, causing her to sink. Whist one of the boats was being launched, she capsized, throwing her 19 occupants into the water. All clung to the boat, but one by one the captain and five men dropped off and were drowned. Two shots penetrated the engine room and injured the Chief Engineer, [Mr Olsson], {John Olsson; rank/rating, 1st Mate; age, 25; place of birth, South Shields; previous ship, South Pacific of Sunderland}, who is now in hospital. The chief engineer and several men were struck by splinters.

The "Western Daily Mercury." Plymouth. in an account of the affair, says the crew of the Spennymoor were given a certain time to leave their vessel, and the captain signified his acquiescence with the command to stop, but at the same time instructed the engine staff to get up speed to run away. This was done for a time, but finding it of no avail, he eventually stopped his vessel, which had in the meantime been fired at. On enquiry at the owners offices, [the Moor Line], the firm informed us by telephone that the Spennymoor had only been a week out from the builders.

Source : Shields Daily News Saturday 29/05/1915.

23 survivors of the crew were landed at South Shields gave an account of their experiences :- They stated that the submarine appeared 150 yards away on the starboard side, and fired a shot across the vessel's bows. The steamer then pulled up, and the submarine opened fired with two shots, doing considerable damage. One shot pierced the engine room, and the chief engineer, Mr H. Mitchell, [John H R Mitchell; rank/rating, 1st Engineer; age, 39; place of birth, Jarrow; previous ship, Inchmoor of London], of South Shields, was struck by some flying splinters, but not seriously hurt.

Boats were promptly launched, and unfortunately the port life boat, in charge of Capt. Knott capsized owing to the choppy sea, and its 19 occupants were thrown into the water.

The captain, Boatswain Campbell, [D. G. Campbell; rank/rating, Boatswain; age, 49; place of birth, New Brunswick; previous ship, Runic of Liverpoo]l, and a seaman named Young [Hilton Young, rank/rating, Deck Hand; age, 21; place of birth, South Shields; previous ship, Protestor of Newcastle, came from a well known shipping family as pilots], and an apprentice named Scott, [Gosforth], were never seen again.

A seaman named Dorf, [G. Dorf; rank/rating, Able Seaman; age, 35; place of birth, Riga; previous ship, Grasmere], was drowned in attempting to board the other lifeboat, and the donkeyman, Bracebridge, [J. Bracebridge; rank/rating, Donkeyman; age, 55; place of birth, Sunderland; previous ship, Gafsa of London], also of Sunderland, was missing. The 3rd Engineer Moffett, use to reside at South Shields, was the son of Captain Moffett who worked for the Walter Runciman Co Ltd on a liner.

Several other shots were fired at the steamer, and eventually she was struck by a torpedo and foundered. The survivors were rescued by the steamer, Broadgreen and landed at Falmouth. The survivors said the Germans showed the utmost indifference to their state, and calmly watched the men struggling in the water.

Source : Shield Daily NewsSaturday 31/05/1915.

It was further reported that a Dors, able seaman from Sunderland drowned, Callender, apprentice from South Shields was saved.

George's eldest son William Rainey Knott, also died in the Great War.

Acknowledgments : William Kirby, John Taylor and Ann Norman, Angela Conroy

George Knott is remembered in North Shields on N34.62, in Eighton Banks on E50.01, and E50.02, also at Newcastle on NUT176, in the National Masonic Roll of Honour, in the Masonic Roll of Honour and in our List of Ships’ crews.

The CWGC entry for Master Knott

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk