A Poppy
A Poppy

Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- Events - Loss of THV Vestal -
- 11 January 1940 -


The Launch to Trinity House Vessel THV Vestal was lost on 11 January 1940 while attempting to deliver stores to the Eddystone Lighthouse with the loss of seven men, including four from the Isle of Wight.

Event details

From : The Isle of Wight County Press 13 January 1940

Four Cowes Trinity House Men Drowned

Launch sunk at Eddystone Lighthouse

The tragic news reached Cowes yesterday (Friday) of the death of four local men engaged in the Trinity House service, as the result of an accident to a launch from the Trinity House vessel Vestal, while delivering stores to the Eddystone Lighthouse off Plymouth on Thursday. No news as to the cause of the disaster was available yesterday, the superintendent of Trinity House Wharf at East Cowes telling our representative that he had no information to give, but communications received by relatives conveyed the sad news that the following local men had been drowned:
James Vincent Briggs, aged 22, third son of Mr and Mrs H W Briggs, of Tower House, Newport-road, Cowes.
Reginald William Wyatt, of 4 Adelaide-grove, East Cowes, son of Mr and Mrs Wyatt, of Devonshire Villa, Mill Hill-road, Cowes, a married man with one daughter.
William E J Hammersley, of 16 Bridge-road, Cowes, who was married to a Lowestoft young woman only a month ago.
Reginald William Ernest Gibbs, 23, second mate of the Vestal, of Millfield, Old-road, East Cowes, who has been married about a year.
Another victim is T Reynolds, of Holyhead, who was engaged to Miss Olive Matthews, of 90 Arctic-road, Cowes.
Two other men who lost their lives are believed to be natives of Penzance, who joined the Vestal when she left East Cowes on Tuesday.
The only survivor is an East Cowes man, Charles Pike, of 1 Cambridge Villas, Cambridge-road, who is in hospital in Plymouth.


James Briggs is commemorated on the Cowes RC Church scroll of honour

James Briggs, William Hammersley, and Reginald Wyatt are commemorated on the Cowes War Memorial (panels dedicated 14 Nov 2010)

Reginald Wyatt is commemorated by a plaque in St Mary's Church, Cowes.

The Penzance victims were Seaman W Romilly Trenoweth, commemorated at Paul Parish Church, Paul, Cornwall, and Seaman E G R Stephens.

There is a Memorial tablet commemorating the men who lost their lives at the Harwich Depot of the Trinity House Service, which was unveiled on 11th January 2000, the 60th anniversary of the loss.

Information provided by : Charles Taylor

Reference : Woodman, Richard (1983), Keepers of the Sea, published by Terence Dalton.

Page last updated : 4 October 2014 (added link to Wyatt Memorial)


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