Gaul’s bell will ring in 40th anniversary of trawler’s loss

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THE rarely-sounded bell of the Gaul, recovered from 800ft down on the bottom of the Barents Sea, is to be rung at one of two services next month to mark the 40th anniversary of her sinking.

The anniversary of the sinking of the Hull supertrawler in February 1974, the worst single loss of life at sea from the city, comes as relatives await the outcome of DNA testing to see whether there is a match with remains found in Russia.

Families are expected to gather at the spot on St Andrew’s Quay where the fishing heritage charity Stand plans to erect a memorial to the city’s 6,000 lost trawlermen later this year for the service.

Hull Sea Cadets will ring the bell to mark the one minute’s silence, which is normally piped in with whistles.

The Rev Tony Cotson will lead the service on Sunday, February 9, with wreaths being cast into the Humber by two people, Andy Atkinson and Julie Naulls, who lost their fathers in the disaster.

The service organised by Stand usually focuses on two vessels, 
but treasurer Ron Wilkinson said the loss of life on the Gaul was such that they felt it should be dedicated to the one trawler this year.

Mr Wilkinson, a former skipper, said claims on social networking sites that the bell had been used at weddings and had been charged for were rubbish.

He added: “My thoughts always go back to the friends and shipmates who were lost and to the relatives. It is something that never goes away.

“These relatives are now in another period of uncertainty.They had 26 years of not knowing where the ship was, so there was no closure, then the wreck was found and remains were recovered, but now (with the discovery of up to 10 sets of remains on the Rybachiy peninsula) you have uncertainty again.”

Some relatives asked for another service on the Saturday – insisting that was when the trawler went down, although the official inquiry found it happened on the 8th or 9th.

This is being organised by the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes at the Bullnose, where Lost Trawlermen’s Day used to be held, and which some consider the spiritual home of the fishing community.

Mr Cotson, of St John’s Church, said he was happy to take the bell to that service too, if asked.