Greek tragedy of the Letchworth

SHE certainly had an interesting life, starting out in wartime here in the North East but ending her days in peacetime in Greek waters.

She was the Letchworth, which consensus pretty much identifies as having been that picture we saw of a ship with a heavy deck cargo of timber.

It had a certain timeliness as the Ice Prince, which sank recently off the south coast, was also carrying wood, large bundles of which are now being washed ashore between Selsey Bill and Worthing, and even as far away as Brighton.

It was suggested that she could have been the Warkworth (ex-Fort Dauphin) or the Queensworth (ex-Empire Citizen), both other ships of RS Dalgliesh's fleet.

But we're clear now she was actually the Letchworth, which reader Alf Dadswell recalls was also known to load esparto grass at Tunisia.

Kevin Blair in Hebburn tells me she was built in 1942 by William Gray & Co Ltd, West Hartlepool, as the Empire Caxton.

In 1945, she became Letchworth for Watergate SS Co Ltd, with RS Dalgliesh Ltd as managers.

"Watergate SS Co Ltd. and RS Dalgliesh Ltd shared the same office address in Newcastle, along with Robert Stanley Shipping Co," says Kevin.

In 1956, she became Peterland for Sagland Ltd, then in 1959 Pamit for Padre Cia Nav SA, and in 1962, Christos for Compania Maritima Samournavi SA under the Liberian flag.

On March 31, 1967 she grounded on Kandeliusa Island, south of Kos. She was floated off but sprang leaks and sank north of Crete.

Says Kevin: "What's happening in the photo is the cargo of wood is being loaded aboard the Letchworth using the ship's derricks.

"If it was unsafe for the ship to berth then the cargo would have been brought out to the ship.

"In this case smaller boats would have towed wooden rafts out to the Letchworth to load. They would have been secured to the ship's side and lifted on when the ship was ready for them."

My thanks to others who got in touch.