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The World Wars (i)

 Model of the fishing boat 'Gowanlea'

Fishermen and fishing vessels from the Scottish east coast played a vital part in both World Wars. They were used for boom defence, as convoy escorts and for minesweeping and anti-submarine patrols. Some were involved in the Dover Patrol. These boats guarded the route of vessels ferrying men, ammunition and equipment from Dover to Europe for the war effort. Fishing boats protected the supply lines by patrolling and also by laying anti-submarine nets. Some of these boats were fishing vessels that were requisitioned for war service. Others were built by the Admiralty as military boats. The Admiralty vessels were given over to the fishermen after hostilities ceased to replace fishing boats that had been lost.

Some crews performed legendary feats of bravery. One such was the crew of the Gowanlea. This drifter managed to withstand an assault by three Austrian cruisers in 1917. The skipper refused to surrender and gave the order to fire. The gunner, Fred Hawley Lamb continued to fire despite an injured leg. They managed to hold off their attackers and escape to safety. The skipper Joseph Watt was the first fisherman to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Fred Lamb received the Distinguished Service Medal.

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