With this day 100 Years Back, that a Skewen jump, SS Main sank after being assaulted by German U-boat UC75 at the First World War.
Thomas Soderstrom was among people on the boat who died except the captain, who lived, together with all the crew. Sue Ware, his great-granddaughter, shares the story of what happened.
After being fired on by German U-boat UC75 that the SS Main awakened.
The Main had found shelter in the storm at Luce Bay in Scotland’s west coastto obtain the U-boat had sheltered there.
This Main’s fate was sealed, she was not the boat but her link to my family and to Skewen means that she’s a place in history.
The SS Main belonged throughout the early part of the 20th Century to The Main Colliery Company.
The boat was constructed for use in the coal trade between Ireland Skewen and Northern France at Glasgow in 1904.
With a gun in her quarterdeck the Main was armed at the Beginning of the First World War and also had just two Royal Naval Reserve Gunners.
Though she was registered at Cardiff she was a Skewen boat being loaded with coal from the principal collieries in Skewen Wharf.
She had a crew of 13.
My great-grandfather Thomas Soderstrom was the first mate in the Main and arrived to reside with their four children and his wife Annie in Skewen.
He fulfilled Annie Davies at Swansea, she was from Landore, they wed in 1900 and after spending several years sailing the globe so that he could be near his family, he chose to perform shorter voyages.
Their Skewen home was Cardonnel Road, River View.
From that point it was stated that the boat coming back up the river bringing daddy home could be seen by the family. Thomas was Swedish and was from the Aland Islands in the Baltic, he became a naturalised British subject in 1913.
The Main was on her way back into Skewen from Belfast when she met on a stormy night in conditions with the U-boat at Luce Bay.
The captain had gone into his cottage and was awoken at 2.30am on October 9, 1917, once he heard shelling as if from a machine gun.
He may see the submarine on the side about 200 metres away and hurried up on deck. It became evident that the boat sank and the life boats had been launched.
The crew were able to enter one of the life boats but at the confusion that it was not feasible to ascertain if all hands were safe or not.
On the next hours the ship capsized on several occasions and was washed by the seas, each time were left. Eventually Robert McCorquodale, the captain, was left living. He survived 15 hours in the water and was washed up in Port William on the eastern shore of Luce Bay.
The sinking had a devastating impact on Captain McCorquodale and also a letter to the secretary of the primary Company he wrote of his despair in “the loss of all of my crew as well as the fantastic old boat Main”.
My great-grandmother was abandoned to look after.
She was introduced with the original model made by the shipbuilders and the model was at her home in St John’s Terrace for several years before she introduced it to Coedffranc Parish Council in the 1950s and it may still be viewed on display in the Carnegie Community Hall.
One of the aspects of this story is that if you wanted to see the mess of the Main, that tore off the coast of Scotland, you would need to dip off the coast of Norfolk near town of Cromer.
Where people were permitted to see the boat for a little fee the Main was closed in 1919 and brought into the village of Drummore.
This isn’t something that would be regarded as appropriate today the money collected was used to fund a memorial to this ship.
The boat was re-named the boat along with Marden worked until 1929 when it awakened after being in a collision.
There was again a crew of 13. They all survived.
The Main Colliery Company substituted the Main with a brand new boat The Goodwill of Bristol and Robert McCorquodale was the captain.
He expired on the anniversary of the sinking of the Main on board .
After a few years in decline The Main Colliery Company closed in 1928.
Their collieries at the Skewen and surrounding regions had closed and it was the end of an era.
Because we view it in photos of this period was no longer necessary coal mining in the area was in decline and Skewen Wharf.
My grandfather told me this story once I was very young.
He informed me about the trip he took to France on the Main along with his father and the way he queued up with the remainder of the crew to receive his “cover” from Captain McCorquodale.
He was the sole person in the faculty, including the employees, who had been out of the 27, when he went to college.
The family became famous in Skewen and possibly their surname is going to be remembered by a few.
We, remember the lives of all 13 of their crew, men from England, Scotland, Latvia, Ireland, Norway, West Indies and India as those who did not return and died performing their task at a time of great risk.
We remember them and the terrific loss suffered by all who knew and loved them.