The SCOTIA was one of Holyhead's cross-channel ships, sank at Dunkirk on June 1st exactly 60 years ago. Thirty member of the ship's crew died, several more were injured, and up to 300 of the French troops she was carrying also lost their lives.
The ship's Master, Captain William Henry Hughes 54, at the time of the tragedy, recorded all that happened in his log book, prior to, and during this very sad day:-
On the 26th May, 1940, the Scotia with its full crew was at Southampton, under two hours' notice. The order came at
7.30pm on the following day (27th) to proceed to Dover with all possible speed. We left berth 42 at 9.30pm and passed through Spithead about 10.30pm. We arrived off Dover about 7am the following morning. I there received orders to proceed to Downs, and anchor to await further orders.
At 5pm having received orders and route instructions, we weighed anchor, and proceeded to Dunkirk, steering various courses as ordered and make for the Eastern Channel off Dunkirk, where we arrived at 9.45pm. The weather was calm and hazy.
We sighted several destroyers at anchor off the Eastern Channel entrance who were engaged in shelling enemy positions. We signalled destroyers for guidance and were told to proceed to Dunkirk. It was now getting dark, so I signalled for a pilot, but received no reply.
Dunkirk was all ablaze and dense cloud of smoke obscured the port. We could hear heavy firing form inshore and violent explosions in the port. Transport "Malines" was following Scotia, so we consulted as to procuring a pilot. "Malines" signalled "proceeding to Grave-lines".
About two miles ahead "Malines" was fired on from shore, so we returned, steering east, towards eastern end of channel. Several small craft lay about at the end of the channel, none of them showing any lights. It was now 0.55am Wednesday 29th.
Whilst going astern and keeping in mid-channel, the Scotia was struck abaft engine room, on the port side. It was sounded all round, but was found not to be taking any water and all