The Netmaker

"The Netmaker" the story follows four families who are all linked in some way to the Wilkinsons Lemonade Factory that was bombed during WW2. This is a tribute to the 107 people who lost their lives on 3rd May 1941


67. 67

“The rain has stopped.’

 “What time is it?’

Nancy looked at her watch; its one thirty and still time to catch a few more fish before we leave.’



Since the arrival of Jim Hardy the former skipper of the Sandpiper that had been torpedoed a month ago nearly they had been working together. Jim shared his knowledge on the fishing grounds with his friend and skipper of the Northern Gale Geordie Johnson.

The partnership had been productive and young Alec Lowery was shaping up to be a good deckhand. He would never forget how Alec had risked his own life to save him when he was knocked unconscious and left with a broken arm. He treated him like his own son. Alec hadn’t had that from his own father who had abandoned him.

The herring had started their migration and were moving further northwards so Geordie and Jim plotted a course to follow the shoals and catch them.

 They listened out for the shipping forecasts around the area but none were being given out now because the Germans were listening in too and this was how they were sinking the vessels. It was a risk going out they all knew that; but were prepared to take that risk in order to make money. Many had been put off by the thought of going out after the Sandpiper, the Albatross, and the Highlander were sunk off the Scottish coast.

Eighteen crew members were lost that month; Geordie spoke with his crew and his friend and they all decided that they had to make a living one way or another so off they went. Jim used a heavy metal cup that was filled with grease. It was dragged along the sea bed then brought aboard where Jim tested the sand. If it were too muddy down there they moved until a good sandy bottom was found this would be where the herring would be found. They had to be careful for rocky ground could destroy the nets and they were expensive. Geordie Johnson joined his crew every trip to mend or make new nets they were the most important piece of his fishing equipment other than the engine which “Winka Watson took good care of. Loss of power would mean that they would be stranded and at the mercy of not only the sea but the enemy as well. In all the years Geordie had been fishing he’d never had to be towed back to port and that was because he was so meticulous when it came to the running of his boat. Everyone had to play his part and he included himself too. There was no room for error or complacency on board his boat. He prided himself on its efficiency. All his crew respected him for it. They sailed for Seahouses off the North East coast because they had been tipped off that large shoals of herring were in the area.

On the morning of the 9th of April 1941 they spotted the gannets diving into the sea and they quickly shot the nets. It was raining hard and there was a bit of a swell. The rain soaked the faces of his crew and the wind blew them from one side to another as they fought the elements.

“Hang on lads shouted Geordie from the wheelhouse it’s going to be a bumpy ride.’

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