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......The sad news reached Swansea, Port Talbot and district at six o‘clock on Friday night (through the medium of the "South Wales Daily Post") that Pilot W. E. Ames, one of the Port Talbot pilots, and his apprentice, named Clifford Ladd, were drowned in the Channel. The information at first was very meagre, but a short time afterwards the pilot boat Alarm of which Ames was the owner, arrived at Port Talbot dock in charge of the assistant, a man named Phillip Lodge, and an apprentice.

......Our Aberavon representative immediately saw Lodge on his arrival and gleaned the following account of the sad disaster. Lodge says that they spent Thursday night in Ilfracombe Harbour, waiting the arrival of the German ship Alsta. They left Ilfracombe on Friday morning at 7.20 and proceeded down Channel, when they came across the Alster which was making for Port Talbot. When near Moat Point, about 10.30 a.m., Ames made an unsuccessful effort to get to the ship, being prevented by the heavy seas which were running.

.....Both vessels were going along rapidly, but the ship got ahead about half a mile. Ames and his apprentice, a youth named Clifford Ladd, of Curgos Terrace Port Talbot were in a punt and were being towed with about 20 fathoms of line behind and were making an effort to get up to the Alster again. Suddenly Lodge saw a tremendous sea coming upon them. He shouted to Ames to look out, but too late, and without a moment's warning Ames' punt was swamped and he and the apprentice Ladd were upset and the punt turned turtle and broke away.

.....Ladd immediately disappeared and was not seen again. Lodge tacked the yawl round and observed Ames swimming about in the raging surf for some minutes. He also saw the body of Ames floating and endeavoured to get hold of it, but the swell was so great that it was utterly impossible to get near it, and finally the body disappeared. Lodge remained on the spot for an hour and a half in a vain endeavour to pick up the bodies, and was also joined by the Bristol tug Columbine, but nothing was seen of either of the two unfortunate men. The punt also disappeared. Lodge says that the seas were mountains high at the time.

.....Ames was a very well known and highly respected pilot, and had been at Port Talbot five or six years, having come from Cardiff Docks. He leaves a widow and four children.

.....The apprentice Ladd had been on the Alarm about 12 months. His mother only removed to Port Talbot a few months ago from Cardiff. Great sympathy is felt in the district with the bereaved families, and the fatality has cast quite a gloom over the district.


.....It is a remarkable coincidence that the ship ''Alster'', which the unfortunate pilot Ames and his apprentice were trying to board when they lost their lives, has been connected with the loss of no less than seven lives.

May 1907

.....There had been bad weather for several days and the “Alster” had been signalling for a pilot so as to proceed she was short of food and water. The “Alster” was a 3 or 4 masted brigantine.

We Thank Edward Travers-Smith for sending us the article

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