Men of the Viknor still remembered

NOT FORGOTTEN ... lost Viknor men are remembered every year on the island of Colonsay.
NOT FORGOTTEN ... lost Viknor men are remembered every year on the island of Colonsay.

SHE is gone but definitely not forgotten.

Tributes continue to be paid to HMS Viknor a century after she sank with the loss of 295 lives, 52 of them men from what is now South Tyneside.

The ship, which before the First World War had plied pleasure cruises to Norway from the Tyne, is thought to have struck a mine while on patrol in the Atlantic, off the coast of Ireland.

Following my recent piece on her, I have heard from several readers who had relatives among the dead.

One lost both great-grandfathers, firemen James Lindsay and Joseph Murray, both naval reservists.

JP Keith Ahmed lost his grandfather, Henry Milliken, who lived in Holborn in Shields and left a wife and six children.

Keith was kind enough to send me several photographs of what remains of the Viknor as she lies on the sea bed.

“The exact location of the vessel remained lost for over 90 years until it was discovered in 2006 by the Irish survey ship Celtic Explorer,” he says.

“In 2010 a diving team from Ireland not only dived on the wreck but also took photos. She lies in deep water and has broken into three sections: the clipper bow, the engine room and the stern section.

“A flag, the Red Duster, was laid over the wreck at the request of the grandson of the ship’s surgeon, Vernon L Matthews, as a token of respect to all who perished.”

On the Hebridean island of Colonsay, another reader tells me, schoolchildren annually place crosses on the graves of Viknor men whose bodies washed up there.

I am also grateful to an on-line reader who supplied details of the 10 men from Jarrow who are known to have gone down with the Viknor. These, alone, drive home what a maritime catastrophe the ship’s loss was for this area.

They included:

n James Adam. fireman, 30, husband of Amy Adam, South Street, Jarrow.

n Leslie Charlton Arkle, writer second class, 19, born in Gateshead.

n Thomas Burn, cooper, 25, born Jarrow, husband of Jane Burn, Council Street, Houghton-le-Spring.

n Donald Campbell Mackay, carpenter, 25, born Wick, Scotland, husband of Margaret Mackay, Union Street Back, Jarrow.

n William Pattison, painter, 37, born Coxlodge, Northumberland, husband of Mary Pattison, Hibernian Road, Jarrow.

n John Richardson, greaser, born Jarrow.

n James Hodgen Riley, fireman, born at Dinapore, India, husband of Bridget Riley, Walter Street, Jarrow.

n John William Sayers, fireman, 39, born Chester-le-Street, husband of Alice Sayers, Hibernian Road Back, Jarrow.