Second-Engineer J W Knowles, of 17 Moorside Terrace, Eccleshill, has had a very fortunate escape from being blown up or drowned for on Sunday, April 22nd, his ship was mined and cut in two.Seen on Saturday, he looked not worse for his recent adventure and the power of his handshake suggested no weakening of his nerve.He said that the vessel he was on was one of our merchant ships which was being convoyed with nine others into a certain English port and his vessel was ninth in line.
Immediately in front of them was a Spanish vessel and other neutral vessels were in the group. They were well in the fairway when, without the slightest warning, their vessel was cut clean in two by striking a mine.He was below at the time and had to wait until the steam had somewhat cleared to tell where he was and how to get out.He was able to seize some of his belongings and then make his way on deck. Most fortunately for all the crew, when the vessel parted, the vacuum
made by the explosion was the means of drawing the two parts together and the air-tight bulkheads helped to keep the shattered vessel afloat for some time before she sank, V-shaped to the bottom.Swim for his lifeThe other vessels came crowding round to render all the assistance they could and every member of the crew was saved, though one man had to swim for his life.The harbour officials were extremely kind and it was a stroke of good fortune that they were all saved
Engineer Knowles was in Australia on the outbreak of war but came over to England at the call of duty that he might become an air pilot.He paid the usual fee of £100 to learn the business and after getting well on the way, the medical men discovered that his heart was not strong enough to stand the strain of flying and consequently he entered the merchant service as an engineer.After a short rest, he is expected to go to sea again.Shipley Times & Express 25 May 1917