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  Inter-War Period 1918-1939 - In Memory of


Lieutenant  CHARLES FREDERICK PAUL RN, 1882-1930 and the officers and crew of HM Tug St Genny, lost 12 January 1930


with thanks to his Great Grandson, Patrick Toche

Lieutenant Charles Paul RN (click to enlarge)  return to inter-war, 1918-1939



Patrick's great-grandfather Lieutenant Paul was the captain of the St Genny and drowned in the 12 January 1930 disaster. He knows little about him other than that "he became an orphan very young and was brought up by his 'uncle and aunt', and started to work on ships 'at 14.' " He sent Naval-History.Net the following material, most of which speaks for itself.




right - believed to be HMS St Genny







Published in "The Times" 14th January 1930.


HMS St. Genny

Sunday 12th January 1930






Further news of the severe gale which swept a large part of the country on Sunday night emphasizes its intensity. Many deaths were caused by accidents on land and sea.


The most serious loss of life occurred when the naval tug St. Genny was struck by a huge sea and sank in the English Channel off the island of Ushant. Three officers and 20 ratings were lost, and there are only five survivors.


The loss of the St Genny was officially announced yesterday as follows:-


The secretary of the Admiralty regrets to announce that H.M. tug St. Genny, of the Fleet Target Service, attached to the Atlantic Fleet, sank in a severe gale at approximately 8.20 p.m. yesterday (Sunday) evening with the loss of 23 lives, about 32 miles north-west of Ushant.


The following have been saved:-

Petty Officer Henry BROTHERTON, J 20237.

Stoker George BROOKS, K 10343.

Signalman William SULLIVAN, J 64480.

Able Seaman Hector ELLIOTT, J 43713.

Able Seaman Alfred J. JENKINS, J 03625.




Lieutenant Charles Frederick PAUL.

Commissioned Gunner Philip Stanley LEAN.

Boatswain Charles Henry Beedell BURREN.


Harold BANKS (A.B.), J 32459 (Chatham).

Herbert George CIVIL (C.E.R.A., 1), m 804 (Chatham).

Alfred Edward Lionel COOMBES (Sto. 1st), K.X. 76581 (Chatham).

Richard Robert COTTON (Sto. 1st), K 62113 (Chatham).

James CROWTHER (Sto. 1st), K 16109 (Devenport).

Thomas FRAY (E.R.A., 2nd), M 34649 (Chatham).

Leonard Charles GREEN (Sto. 1st), K 62435 (Chatham).

Frederick James Benjamin HEBEL (Ldg. Sto.), K 59712 (Chatham).

George Arthur HOWES (A.B.), J 105307 (Chatham).

Sydney Richard KELLINGTON (A.B.), J 92220 (Chatham).

Claud William Nevell KEMP (Off. Std. 2nd), L 12749 (Chatham).

Frederick Andrew KNIGHT (Sto. 1st class), K 65419 (Chatham).

Paul MAITLAND (A.B.), J 100943 (Chatham).

William Henry PEPLER (E.R.A. 1st), M 14878 (Chatham).

Frederick George PINK (Ldg. Sto.), K 59106 (Chatham).

Albert James PRIEST (Off. Std. 3rd), L 14694 (Chatham).

Henry Albert RAVEN (Sto. 1st) K 58432 (Chatham).

Sidney Silvester TITMUS (A.B.) J 106605 (Chatham).

John Thomas WILLIS (Ldg. Sto.) K 2294 (Devonport).

Thomas John WILLOUGHBY (Tel.) J 48094 (Chatham).



Published in "The Times" 14th January 1930.

(From Our Correspondent)

Weymouth, Jan. 13.





News of the disaster to the tug St. Genny was received with surprise in the Atlantic Fleet at Portland. It was pointed out that while she was not a very large vessel, she was well built and very powerful, and had weathered very severe storms off the French coast during similar journeys with the Fleet in previous years.


Information received at Portland this evening shows that at the time of the disaster, 8.20 on Sunday evening, the wind was blowing at a rate of between 70 and 80 miles an hour, and at times reached 100 miles an hour. The St. Genny, her sister tug, St. Cyrus, and the sloop Snapdragon left Portland together on Saturday, and hove to about 30 miles N.W. of Ushant in

the hope that the storm would abate. The three ships were within half a mile of each other. After one huge wave had swept the St. Cyrus and the Snapdragon, the look-out men missed the St. Genny. Searchlights were thrown on the spot where she was seen last, and several men were observed struggling in the water. The two ships approached the spot, and life lines were thrown to the drowning men, who were wearing lifebelts. In this way five men were saved. Owing to the heavy seas it was impossible to launch a lifeboat.


The light cruiser Frobisher, which was at Portland, was sent early this morning to give what help she could, but no men could live long in such rough sea, even if they had lifebelts or had found wreckage. It is believed that a huge wave stove in the plates of the St. Genny, that there was a tremendous inrush of water, and that only the men on deck had a chance to escape, those below being caught in a trap. The Admiralty has ordered an inquiry.


The departure of the Atlantic Fleet for Spanish and Mediterranean ports has been postponed for 24 hours in consequence of the rough weather. The ships will leave port at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon.




The following telegram has been received by the Admiralty:-


"The King is much distressed to hear of the sinking of H. M. Tug Saint Genny during yesterday’s storm, and asks that you will convey to the relatives of all those who lost their lives an expression of his Majesty’s sincere sympathy."


The cruiser Frobisher, escorting the sloop Snapdragon and the tug St. Cyrus, with the survivors of the St. Genny aboard, arrived off Plymouth at 8 o’clock last night, and anchored in the Sound. It was understood that the survivors would remain aboard during the night and land at Davenport Dockyard this morning.




The St. Genny belonged to the "Saint" class of the fleet tugs built late in the War, and was of about 425 tons gross, with a length of 135ft., beam of 30ft., and a maximum draught of 14½ft. She was a single screw ship, with engines of 1,250 horsepower, giving her a nominal speed of 12 knots. The St. Cyrus and the St. Genny were attached to the Atlantic Fleet Target Service, and the latter finished a refit at Chatham yard only on January 4, before leaving for the Mediterranean to take part in the spring cruise of the Fleet.


The St. Genny had been commanded since April 30 by Lieutenant C. F. Paul, R.N., formerly second-in-command of the fishery protection trawler Kennet.


Lieutenant Paul was born on November 18, 1882, and was promoted to the warrant rank of gunner in August, 1914, and appointed to H. M. S Lord Nelson, flagship of Admiral Sir Cecil Burney. He remained in the ship when she was sent to the Eastern Mediterranean, where she was flagship of Vice-Admirals de Robeck and Thursby. From October 1 1917, he served in the destroyer Express. He was promoted commissioned gunner in August, 1924, and lieutenant in June, 1928, after two years at Chatham Gunnery School.




Published in "The Times" 15th January 1930.

(from Our correspondent)

Plymouth, Jan. 14.






The full account of the rescue of the survivors of the naval tug St. Genny, which foundered in the gale on Sunday evening when about 40 miles off Ushant with the loss of 23 lives, reveals the heroism exhibited by the captain and crew of the sister tug St. Cyrus, who rescued five men in seemingly impossible conditions.


The St. Genny was steaming to Gibraltar in company with the sloop Snapdragon and the tug St. Cyrus, and was sunk by mountainous seas at a quarter to 8 on Sunday. The story of what happened was told by Lieutenant Henry Melville, the captain of the St. Cyrus.


The St. Cyrus herself, it appears, had a very narrow escape from disaster. About 3 o'clock on Sunday afternoon, soon after the gale sprang up in the Channel, the tug had her steam steering gear put out of action. This put the vessel in great danger, as if she had got broadside on the heavy seas she would have stood little chance. The captain ordered the rigging of the temporary hand-steering gear, and while taking part in this dangerous work received a blow from the uncontrolled rudder which broke his little finger and shattered two other bones in his right hand. By the time the temporary gear was fixed the St. Cyrus had fallen a long way behind the other boats.


The tug struggled against the gale at a speed of about four knots, when at 7.45 an S. O. S. signal was observed. The signal seen must have been the last flash before the lamp went out, as the next thing noticed was the burning of calcium flares in the water, showing that men were in the sea. These flares are set off automatically when life-belts are immersed in water. The captain thinking that he was still many miles behind the St. Genny, thought at first that a merchant vessel was sinking. The St. Cyrus, lame herself, with huge seas washing her gunwales, proceeded to the scene as quickly as possible. Her searchlight could not be brought to bear upon the figures struggling in water, but they could be seen in the light of the flare, and some of the men shouted that they were members of the crew of the St. Genny.




An amazing scene followed, and according to the crew only the coolness and expert seamanship of the captain made it possible to save lives with the ship almost half sinking herself. The gunwales of the tug were under water, and the crew, fighting to keep their own washboards free, began flinging lines and lifebuoys to their comrades, who were being pitched hither and thither like corks. About eight or nine members of the St. Genny's crew were all who were seen by the rescuers. The others, it is assumed, had been carried out of reach, or, as empty lifebelts betokened, given up the struggle with the intense cold and the fury of the storm. Two men were seen on the weather side of the St. Cyrus, where they could not be reached without turning the ship. The captain shouted to them "All right, we will get you in a minute," but they were never seen again. The crew of the St. Cyrus, including the officers and stewards, helped in the rescue work, standing in water reaching at times to their armpits. Mr. A. E. Harding, the Bos'n was stunned by at big wave almost as soon as he came on deck.


After the rescue work had lasted about half an hour, it became evident that no others on that side of the tug could be saved. In trying to turn to pick up the two men who had been seen on the other side the St. Cyrus very nearly capsized, and the attempt had to be abandoned. The St. Cyrus, lame and waterlogged, with every man onboard wet to the skin, beat her way at four knots for nearly 11 hours. The five survivors were transferred to the Snapdragon, which was several miles away when the tug sank.


The Snapdragon brought the men into Devonport this morning, and during the afternoon an official court of inquiry was held on board. The survivors were sent later to the Royal Naval Barracks before proceeding on leave. Lieutenant Melville had only just joined the St. Cyrus, and was making his first trip in her.



Sister-ship HMS St Cyrus, which took part in the rescue of survivors





Hansard (House of Commons Daily Debates)


Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha 1893 - February 16, 1957


1. Plymouth Devonport December 6, 1923 - July 5, 1945


1. Parliamentary Secretary 1931 - 1932

2. Financial Secretary 1932 - 1934

3. Minister of Transport 1934 - 1937

4. Secretary of State for War 1937 - 1940

Titles in Lords

1. Baron Hore-Belisha January 14, 1954 - February 16, 1957


Mr Benjamin Tillett

1860 - January 27, 1943


1. Salford North November 2, 1917 - December 14, 1918

2. Salford North December 14, 1918 - October 29, 1924

3. Salford North May 30, 1929 - October 27, 1931




HC Deb 28 January 1930 vol 234 cc879-80W


Mr. HORE-BELISHA asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether, in the inquiry into the loss of the Admiralty tug "St. Genny," in the recent gales, the question of the advisability of sending these small craft out in stormy weather will be investigated?


Mr. ALEXANDER A Court of Inquiry has already been held, and the point in question has also been investigated. The question of the advisability or otherwise of sending small craft to sea in unsettled weather is always present to the mind of the senior officer, who has the ordering of the movements of His Majesty's ships under his command. The weather at Portland when the "St. Genny," in company with the sloop "Snapdragon" and a sister tug left on Saturday afternoon, 11th January, was fine and gave no indication of the approach of a storm of such exceptional severity as was in fact encountered. The first warning of a severe gale, though issued at the earliest possible moment by the Meteorological Department, was broadcast to shipping shortly after noon on Sunday. By this time the vessels were approaching Ushant. I should like to add that the conduct of all concerned on this occasion appears to have been highly creditable. In the conditions of wind and sea prevailing at the time, very little in the way of saving life was possible, but the excellent handling of the remaining ships resulted in five survivors from the "St. Genny" being picked up from the water.



HC Deb 30 January 1930 vol 234 c1193W


Mr. TILLETT asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether reports from the meteorological stations are available for the use of the Admiralty; and, if so, whether warning of the impending gale was sent to the officers responsible for ordering His Majesty's Tug "St. Genny" to sea on Sunday, 12th January?


Mr. ALEXANDER The reply to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. As regards the second part, all the weather forecasts issued by the Meteorological Office to ships at sea were received and considered by the Commander-in-Chief, who despatched the "St. Genny" and her consorts from Portland on Saturday, 11th January. By the time the special gale warning was issued shortly after noon on Sunday, 12th January, as stated in my reply of 28th January to the hon. Member for Devonport [OFFICIAL REPORT, column 880], the vessels were approaching Ushant. They were already in the storm area, and any action to recall them to shelter would have been impossible and dangerous.



HC Deb 12 February 1930 vol 235 c432W


Mr. HORE-BELISHA asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he proposes to publish the finding of the court of inquiry into the "St. Genny" loss?


Mr. ALEXANDER No, Sir. It is contrary to Admiralty practice to publish the reports of courts of inquiry.



HC Deb 12 February 1930 vol 235 cc401-2


Mr. HORE-BELISHA asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the Admiralty tug "St. Genny," which was lost in the recent gales, and the "St. Cyrus," which went to her assistance, were supplied with Carley floats; and, if not, whether he will see, in order to prevent further calamities, that this type of craft is supplied with Carley floats in future?


Mr. ALEXANDER The reply to the first part of the question is in the negative. With regard to the second part these tugs had sufficient life belts on board for everyone. Although it is improbable that Carley floats would be of much help in conditions such as prevailed in the recent gales, arrangements have already been made for the provision of them to all such vessels.


revised  9/4/12