20TH JUNE 1918 AGE 45
BURIED: HULL WESTERN CEMETERY, UK
Richard Pawson was killed in a famous, or perhaps one should say, infamous, incident when a German U-boat fired on a group of six trawlers returning to their home port in Hull from a fishing trip in Icelandic waters. The trawlers were 55 miles south of the Faroe Islands when U-53 opened fire. Five of the trawlers had guns and after a three and a half hour engagement the trawlers eventually saw off the U-boat. The incident received much press publicity where it was viewed as a classic David and Goliath event since there was only one RN officer among the trawler crews, the rest of them were all civilian fishermen.
Richard Pawson was a 'spare hand' on the trawler SS Aisne. It was Aisne that achieved a direct hit on the U-boat just as the trawlers' ammunition was running out and the order 'prepare to ram' was about to be given. But Aisne herself had been badly hit: one crewman, Pawson, was killed and four others wounded.
Aisne returned to port and Pawson was buried in Hull Western Cemetery. His grave was not originally marked as a war grave but his name was included on the Mercantile Marine Memorial on Tower Hill. However, from the records, it looks as though his grave acquired a Commission headstone in 1998 and someone, the records do not record who, chose an inscription from the 'sailors' hymn:
Eternal Father strong to save
Who arm does bind the restless wave,
Who bids the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.