15th July 1947

Racing yacht Westward is blown up off Guernsey

When TBF Davies died, he left specific instructions that his racing yacht should be scuttled off Guernsey. Davies himself had been born on Guernsey – and lived there – but had died in Durban five years before his wishes were carried out.

The Westward, as it was called, had been built at Rhode Island and once belonged to the Kaiser. Worth £60,000 (around £2.3m today), it had frequently raced against King George V’s yacht, Britannia, and was well-known in Dartmouth where it was berthed.

Indeed, it was so well-loved that despite the fact the date of its sinking had been kept a secret until the very last moment, Dartmouth residents had turned out to see it off and, according to the Western Morning News, “The smoke of the tug [that took Westward] along the estuary was so dense that some local people believed a smoke screen was being thrown out to hide the schooner’s departure.”

Westward’s sinking

A report in The Times read,

In accordance with the owner’s will, two members of the crew, Skipper Aldis and the sailmaker, Mr James Foster, were the last to be on board. Two souvenirs were taken from the Westward – the wheel and a punt.

The Western Morning News described the sinking in more detail:

Preliminaries completed, the explosives in the hold of the vessel were detonated by means of a switch from the cabin of the tug and also by a time fuse. There was a loud roar as the explosion took place, with clouds of smoke billowing in mushroom fashion into the clear sky, intermingled with pieces of timber which fell over a wide area of the sea. Westward gradually settled and disappeared from the view of the men watching in the tug, leaving only a few floating spars.

Davies was a millionaire who had made his fortune as a stevedore (dock worker who loads and unloads ships) in South Africa.

 

FREE Guernsey history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Guernsey's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want. We'll also keep you up to date with our latest book releases and early-bird discounts.

 

Other events that occured in July

Guernseyman Edward Tupper killed by cannibals 1st
Alderney is occupied by German forces 2nd
Seigneur of Sark, Michael Beaumont, dies aged 88 3rd
Guernsey hosted the Island Games 2003 closing ceremony 4th
New coins are minted for Guernsey 5th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry Museum opens 6th
Victor Hugo statue is unveiled in Candie Gardens 7th
First Commando raid of the Second World War 8th
Birth of Sark-based writer Mervyn Peake 9th
Guernsey nurses go on hunger strike 10th
ITV broadcasts first episode of Island at War 11th
A Guernsey man posted himself to Sark 12th
Murderer Peter Robin sentenced to death 13th
Victor Hugo plants his United States of Europe oak 14th
Point Law runs aground off Alderney 15th
Racing yacht Westward is blown up off Guernsey
BBC made its first ever Channel Islands broadcast 16th
The Star received some “grave” news 17th
The Guernsey Martyrs were burned at the stake 18th
Prince Charles and Camilla visit Guernsey 19th
President Garcia is re-floated in Saints Bay 20th
Typhoid suspect holidaymaker flies home 21st
Guernsey Controlling Committee’s Sir John Leale died 22nd
Alderney to Guernsey radio connection established 23rd
Val des Terres was first opened for traffic 24th
The BBC broadcasts from Sark for the first time 25th
Guernsey court escapee was caught again 26th
Braye du Valle was gifted by the crown 27th
Murderer sentenced to death in three hours 28th
Guernsey bought Herm from the mainland 29th
Albert Lamy appointed Guernsey Police Chief Officer 30th
Guernsey to Jersey plane crashed into the sea 31st