PZ.613 Hawa Dilli

Hawa Dilli  – PZ.613 : 1935 – 1962
ex- Albania – PZ.613 : 1897-1916
ex- Orion – PZ.613 : 1916-1935;

In the winter of 1935, the Penzance registered auxiliary motor fishing boar Orion was sold to Captain Cuthbert Bellin Wallis,1 who gave his home address as the Yacht Achilla, c/o Westminster Bank, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex. Born in 1880, he would then have been about 55 years of age. Wallis re-registered her under the name of Hawa Dilli (heart lifter), on December 1st 1935, but she retained the fishing number of PZ.613.2 Under this re-registration her registered dimensions etc., were:

Length of KeelLengthBreadthDepthTonnageNumber of crew
Ft.Ft. TenthsFt. TenthsFt. TenthsGross – NetMen – Boys
46.051. 515.26. 834.00 – 34.006 – 0

If the new name of the boat was not unusual in itself, a more unlikely name than Cuthbert Bellin Wallis, for the owner of a Cornish fishing boat, is hard to imagine. There is reason to suppose that she now became a pleasure boat, though her owner or skipper presented her fishing certificate at the Custom House for endorsement as a working fishing boat on January 13th, 1936. Even so, if she was being used as a pleasure craft, she was not registered as a yacht in Lloyd’s Register of Yachts – though his Achilla – 15 ton cutter, ex Dormouse; and Freelance – 11 ton yawl, ex-Brixham smack of that name – were.

When Wallis acquired the Hawa Dilli he also registered her as a British vessel – probably for cross-channel cruising. She was then allocated the Official Number, 164,791, being registered in the Port of Penzance under 1/1936. As a British vessel she was listed in the annual Mercantile Navy Lists, under a number of different ownerships – both as a motor vessel, and as an auxiliary sailing vessel – between 1937, and 1958+.

Meanwhile her registration as a British Sea Fishing Boat, was transferred to folio 177, in the same register at the beginning of 1936,3 when her dimensions were recorded as:-

Length of KeelLengthBreadthDepthTonnageNumber of crew
Ft.Ft. TenthsFt. TenthsFt. TenthsGross – NetMen – Boys
46.051.015.57.123.93 – 13.473 – 1

These dimensions gave her reduced tonnage measurements, both gross and net register, and her normal crew was reduced to 3 men and a boy.

Presumably Wallis was her owner when the following event occurred, but he may or may not have actually been on board, at the time of the accident. Note her headline definition.

Explosion Starts Fire In Yacht – BRIXHAM THRILL – Prompt Action Saves Two Other Craft.

Both residents and visitors near the Prince of Orange Statue at Brixham Quay on Saturday had the thrilling experience of seeing the Penzance motor cruiser Hawa Dilli, now used as a cruiser yacht, with her engine-room ablaze.

A loud explosion was heard, and the masts of the Hawa Dilli rocked with such force that for a moment it seemed as though all the standing gear on the deck would collapse.

One man clutched the mizzenmast shrouds, and another was observed to hastily come on deck from the engine-room, from which dense clouds of smoke emerged.

The shout of “Fire” soon hastened persons on the vessels Terminist and Inspire, moored on the port side of the Hawa Dilli, to pour a bountiful quantity of water into the engine-room by means of buckets, whilst others in small boats put off from the quayside to render what assistance they could.

The application of chemicals soon had the conflagration extinguished. As far as could be ascertained, no one received any serious injury. Crowds lined the Embankment, and were most commendatory in their praise of the expeditious manner in which the men tackled the situation.

Mr. W. Dyer ‘phoned for the Brixham Fire Brigade, but almost immediately cancelled the call, thanks to the promptitude of all on the scene. Had the blaze extended on the lugger the safety of the other two vessels would have been endangered, because they were aground at the time. The main damage was confined to the engine-room and motor.

Western Morning News, Monday, September 21st, 1936.

None of those on board were named in this report, but less than two months later, on November 23rd, Wallis relinquished his ownership.

From the Penzance registers of sea fishing boats, Mrs. Mary Maud Laity,4 of 35, Killigrew Street, Falmouth, became her owner on November 23rd 1936, with S. J. Laity as her skipper.

Despite being referred to as a ‘yacht,’ and ‘motor cruiser,’ in the above report, her fishing certificate was again presented and endorsed by a Custom House officer on April 7th, 1937, when John W. Hughes, of Glen Isla, Deganwy, N. Wales, became her owner, with a T. Slack, as her skipper. Subsequently, by an undated endorsement, Slack was replaced as skipper by Thomas Clayton, of 11, Horsefall Grove, Dingle, Liverpool, and during this period her fishing certificate was successively presented for endorsement in August 1938 & 1939. I’m not sure of any pre-war fuel restrictions, but if there were any, as a ‘working’ fishing boat she would have had some exemption, or have had an allowance.

Whether or not she was now being employed as a working fishing boat, a correspondent of the Western Mail, was on board the Hawa Dilli, in the summer of 1939, when salvage vessels were desperately trying to recover the sunken submarine H.M.S. Thetis.

Salvage Ships Seem to be Grappled to Wreckage – From Our Own Correspondent – On Board the Hawa Dilli, Sunday.

For some 24 hours now I have been on board the 20-ton sail and motor vessel Hawa Dilli lying on the edge of the tragic square mile of water off Lynas Point, where the little fleet of salvage and Navy vessels is unceasingly at work upon the operations which, it is hoped, will bring the submarine Thetis to the surface.

It was early evening yesterday when we reached here from Llandudno, some 15 miles away. While daylight lasted we cruised up and down as near as we dared to the place where the Thetis lies more than 20 fathoms deep with her dead.

“Any idea when she’ll be raised,” is the question we have asked whenever we have got near enough.

“We are working away all the time, but we cannot say when there will be any results.” Is the invariable answer.

Only one vessel of the fleet has remained motionless since we arrived. She is the salvage vessel Salvor, and she has lain there all the time at one end of the wreck never moving. One of the huge camel-raising vessels is lying alongside her.

Every other ship has swung about on her cable as the tides turned. The Salvor, however, appears to have been made fast to the wreckage so that she cannot swing.

At the other end of the wreck is the salvage vessel Vigilant, and although she is moving with the current a list to the port side is an indication that she also is grappled onto the sunken submarine.

With daylight and slack water this morning activity came to a height again. We could make out the divers coming and going over the ship’s side.

Western Mail & South Wales News, Monday, June 5th, 1939

With political tension mounting in the British Isles and across Europe, as Chamberlain endeavoured to broker peace with Hitler, by the end of August ‘Our Special Correspondent’ [now syndicated to a number of other papers], was still covering the Thetis salvage attempts, though by this time there was no possibility of any of the crew still being alive.

On Board the Hawa Dilli, Monday: The submarine Thetis, steel coffin of 99 men, was raised from the blue clay bed of Liverpool Bay to-day where she has been lying since disaster overtook her during her trials on June 1st.

Suspended by steel cables beneath the salvage ship Zelo, she was successfully towed for 8½ miles towards the Anglesey shore.

Two months of difficult and dangerous labour and two disappointing failures were rewarded by a completely successful operation. The experts are confident that the Thetis will be taken the remainder of the 17 miles from the scene of the disaster to Red Wharf Bay without mishap.

Dawn was breaking as I watched from the deck of this small fishing boat the start of lifting.

As the tide rose the Zelo settled down in the water as the strain of the submarine began to be felt.

About nine o’clock, when the tide had been running is for some four hours, the salvage experts decided that the cables were doing their work properly and that the towing could be attempted.

Then, slowly, the tugs got their loan [load] under way.

At about three miles an hour towards the dim outline of Anglesey towing went on steadily for nearly two and a half hours.

By the time high water had been passed. The Zelo was manoeuvred to a standstill and anchored.

Further moves will be made at every tide until the Thetis is well in shore.

When the Thetis is in shallow water it is believed divers will be able to fix air pipes to her and raise her by means of compressed air to the surface before finally beaching her at Red Wharf Bay.

Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Thursday, August 29th, 1939. – and several others

At this point the reports cease, and the Hawa Dilli slips into obscurity once more – though on December 31st, 1940, her fishing certificate was yet again presented for endorsement.

As hostilities continued the Hawa Dilli was commandeered for war service, and her Penzance Fishing Register was so endorsed for 1941 through to 1944 – when her registration was transferred to a new Penzance Register – No 6, in the original Penzance Custom House series, folio 88.5

By this final re-registration her dimensions were give as:

Length of KeelLengthBreadthDepthTonnageNumber of crew
Ft.Ft. TenthsFt. TenthsFt. TenthsGross – NetMen – Boys
46.051.015.57.123.93 – 13.473 – 1

She was still in the ownership of John William Hughes, with Thomas Clayton continuing as her master, though her register had been endorsed as being on OHMS for 1944 & 1945.

After the war the Hawa Dilli was returned to her previous owners, and ostensibly continued fishing – possibly as an inshore trawler – though her register only states ‘nets’ – usually implying drift-net fishing. She was still described as an Aux Motor Lugger, with Fore & mizzen sails, and her register was endorsed to verify that her fishing certificate had been duly presented for confirmation of her continued employment as a fishing boat in 1946, 47, & 48. During this period one T. J. Thorpe, of Salton, St. George Drive, Deganwy, officially became her skipper – but no reports mentioning her have been discovered during this period.

PZ 613 Hawa Dilli at anchor (Jan Pentreath collection)

Ketch rigged, this change of rig was never recorded in her register, and the basket hoisted on her fore-stay should only have been hoisted when the crew were fishing. I’m guessing that the gent standing by the wheelhouse, with his right hand grasping one of the mizzen shrouds was her current owner.

Then, in June 1949, John William Hughes (her managing owner), registered the vessel in the ownership a single ship company ‘Hawa Dilli Limited.’ T. J. Thorp continued as her skipper, and throughout she retained her Penzance fishing number, PZ.613, and her register as a fishing boat continued to be so endorsed annually from June 3rd, 1949, to July 1956.

About this time she was photographed alongside the quay at Conway, when – with her white hull – she appears to have been very much a cruising motor yacht, possibly used for charter-fishing trips – though there does appear to be a trawl ‘door’ lashed to her starboard mizzen shrouds.

PZ 613 Hawa Dilli alongside at Conway (unattributed postcard)

In 1957 the Hawa Dilli’s tonnage was once more re-admeasured, when her gross tonnage was reduced to 24.08 tons, and her net register tonnage to 10.84 tons. Subsequently, on January 22nd 1958 ownership passed to V. O. Farrell Limited, 29, Great Charlotte Street, Liverpool, when a J. Bond was endorsed as master.

Less than four months later, on May 27th, 1858, ownership passed to Alan Newell, of 2 Brook Road West, Waterloo, Liverpool, when Newell also became her master. Her register as a fishing boat continued to be endorsed annually from May 1858, to January 1962.

But then the Hawa Dilli ‘s life-line ran out:

CITY MEN RESCUED FROM RAFT – Boat Sank in Bay – FISHING:

Two Liverpool men spent five hours floating on a raft in Liverpool Bay last night before they were rescued unharmed by the Rhyl lifeboat.

They were Alan Newall of Brook Road West, Waterloo, the skipper, and his mate, John Neary of Skirving Street, Liverpool, the crew of the 23 ton ketch Hawa Dilli.

The lifeboat raced to their aid yesterday after the pleasure steamer St. Tudno, on its way from Llandudno to Liverpool, reported seeing red flares about four miles from the Bar lightship.

Mr. Neary said last night: “We left Liverpool at seven in the morning and were fishing off the Constable Buoy. During the afternoon the boat sprang a leak and went down quickly.

“We climbed aboard the self-inflating dinghy and were adrift for five hours before we were picked up.”

The coxswain of the Rhyl lifeboat, Mr. A. Campili, said: “The two must have drifted for about twenty-five miles in the dinghy. They told me they had set off five flares to try and attract attention of ships which they saw passing very close. They were trying to attract a Dutch ship and did not notice the lifeboat until it was quite close to them.”

Liverpool Echo, Wednesday, June 18th, 1962

A report of the lifeboat service was published in the R.N.L.I. Journal:

STEAMER PASSENGER SPOTS FLARES Rhyl, Flintshire. At 7.25 on the evening of the 12th June, the coastguard informed the honorary secretary that a passenger on board the steamer St. Tudno of Liverpool had reported seeing red flares six or seven miles north-west of the H.E. buoy in the estuary of the river Dee. The life-boat Anthony Robert Marshall was launched at 7.38 in a gentle southwesterly wind and a slight sea. It was half an hour before high water. The life-boat carried out a search for some time without success, and the coxswain reported that a pilot vessel which had also been searching, had seen nothing. The search was continued by the life-boat, and at 8.47 the coxswain reported that a red flare had been seen three miles south-west of the Bar lightvessel. When the life-boat reached the position a rubber raft was found with two men on board. They were the crew of the ketch HawaDilli of Liverpool, which had sprung a leak and sunk off Orme’s Head. The two men had used all their seven flares and had been adrift for over five hours. They were taken on board the life-boat, which reached her station at 11.23. The two men went to hospital, but were discharged, and members of the Rhyl ladies’ life-boat guild arranged transport to Liverpool for them. The men made a gift to the branch funds.

The Life Boat, September, 1962, Vol.37; Issue 401, p.330

A few days after the event her Penzance register was endorsed:

VESSEL SUNK IN LIVERPOOL BAY 12:6:62.

TOTAL LOSS – ADVICE RECEIVED FROM OWNER 15:6:62

G.R. 200 TO R.G.S. 15:6:62.

Which brief comment marked the end of a fine Mount’s Bay lugger, after 65 years of service.

There was, however, an incidental post script in 1969, when it was announced that the:

SKIPPER of the trawler Hawa Dilli which sank in Liverpool Bay seven years ago, Liverpool-born Mr. Alan Newell, aged 48, is to take over the Bull Hotel, Denbigh.

Liverpool Echo, Saturday, December 20th, 1969

Her loss must have carried some Merseyside notoriety!

Tony Pawlyn
Commenced 16/12/2017, Amended 20/08/2020

  1. In the 1911 Census return, Cuthbert Bellin Wallis, single, aged 30, a Retired Army Officer, Born in Bloomsbury, now living alone, he was then residing in 15 Penwerris Terrace, Falmouth. He served as an army Captain during the Boer War, and WW1. He died in the Truro registration district during the 3rd quarter of 1973, aged 92
  2. CRO/MSR/PENZ No.10, folio 44
  3. CRO/MSR/PENZ No.10, folio 177
  4. Probably the widow of Samuel John Laity, Porthleven fisherman. Both residing in 15, New Street, Falmouth in 1911. She died 27th March 1951
  5. CRO/MSR/PENZ, No.12, folio 88