National Lost Trawlermen’s Memorial Day

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:05 pm on 13th December 2021.

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Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Labour, Kingston upon Hull East 9:05 pm, 13th December 2021

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady, who makes the point better than me, I suspect, and very passionately; I spotted the Minister listening intently while she spoke.

While fishermen are among those commemorated on the Tower Hill memorial in London, their relative absence from the wider story of this country’s war effort should be further evidence of the need for a National Lost Trawlermen’s Memorial Day. We mark Lost Trawlermen’s Day in Hull on the last Sunday in January, deliberately and for a significant reason: with high winds and stormy seas, it was always a perilous time for Hull’s fishing fleet, with many losses occurring at that time of year.

However, January 1968 marked one of the darkest periods in our city’s history, the triple trawler tragedy, when the St Romanus, the Kingston Peridot and the Ross Cleveland all sank within weeks of each other, with the loss of 58 lives. Only one man survived. The devastating blow dealt to Hull’s tight-knit fishing community was a call to arms, and the headscarf revolutionaries, led by Lillian “Big Lil” Bilocca, achieved more for safety at sea in a few days than others had achieved in many decades. Dr Brian Lavery paid tribute to her in his book.