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Bella Fishing Boat

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The Bella was a fishing boat sunk by a German U-Boat on 25 September 1916 near Catterline Bay in the north east of Scotland. The crew was seized and the six on board were taken to Germany as Prisoners of War (PoWs): David Cargill, John Cargill, James Ritchie Jnr, skipper James Ritchie (Auld Briney), James Freeman Ritchie, and William Ritchie

The crew had originally thought to have been lost at sea, together with their boat, after wreckage from their boat was found off the coast. However, some two months later the skipper's wife received a postcard )postmarked Brandenburg) written by her son, with the news that the crew was alive and well - in a German PoW camp.

Fishing about 6 miles offshore, the crew must have been surprised to see the the German U-Boat rise out of the sea.

From reposts, it seems the Oberleutenant was rather apologetic as came alongside the Bella and informed the crew that they had been seen - and he was therefore obliged to take them prisoner. Once the crew had been taken off the boat, it is believed by some that the Bella was fitted with explosive charges and destroyed. leaving only the wreckage which was later found along the coast. The report also indicate that the U-Boat remained in the area long enough to offer the crew offered one last glimpse of Gourdon, through the periscope.

The crew would never have expected their fate to have taken this turn, as the fishermen were in a reserved occupation, so would not have been called up.

The men were landed at Wilhelm’s haven and transported to PoW camps. The younger crew members were employed as woodcutters, while reports suggest that the older men were 'treated like officers'.


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Aerial views


Catterline Bay


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