The K Lighter

The K Lighter

The wreck of the K – type lighter

 

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In the sea at Gully Beach, a few metres off shore, you will see the wreck of a small ship. (Pictured above, graced by Lynn in the foreground taking a better photo than mine!) On the left is the cabin, and further to the right the ribs of the bow. The records allow us to identify this vessel with some certainty. Primary sources show that on the night of 9th January 1916, during the final stages of the evacuation, a ‘K’ type lighter ran aground at Gully Beach due to the stormy weather conditions. A 1919 photo shows the vessel aground and still intact,  below, right. Image used under the IWM non-commercial licence, © IWM (Q 13917).

The lighter was to take off Major Colonel Maude and his-men, amongst others, but the accident meant that they had to walk to X beach to find alternative transport. When he had almost arrived there, Maude realised that he had left his valaise (kit bag) at Gully Beach, and he and his batman walked all the way back to collect it. They finally arrived at X beach again within minutes of the last boat casting off. The incident spawned a range of poems based on the popular musical hall song of the time ‘Come into the garden Maud’, one version going as follows:

Come into the lighter Maude,
the fuses have been lit.
Come into the lighter Maude,
and forget your ruddy kit!

There were several rather bawdier versions!

 

In calm conditions, it is safe to swim at Gully Beach and to reach the wreck of the lighter, which lies in no more than 1 metre of water. It is best to check beforehand to see if any current is flowing, and also to ascertain the wind direction. (If the wind is blowing from seaward to shore, which is usually the case, it will tend to push you ashore, which is safer. There are no discernable tides here).

Some kind of footwear is recommended due to the fringe of stones, weed and shells close to shore. Further out, and around the wreck itself, the bottom is clean soft sand. Wet boots or beach shoes are ideal. The usual disclaimers apply!

Close to shore, remains of the landing piers can also be seen.

 

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