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Gourdon and the First World War
The Bella


When the fishing boat Bella was line fishing off Catterline in 1916, she was accosted by a German U – boat and her crew taken on board the submarine.

The Bella was blown up by the Germans, and her crew taken to Germany, where they remained until the end of the hostilities. Their names were:
Skipper James Ritchie (Auld Brimy); his son Jimmy Ritchie (fishbuyer); William Ritchie; James Freeman Ritchie; John Cargill (auld Johnny) and his son David Cargill (Davity). 
Fae her hame port of Gourdon the Bella set forth,
Wi a crew of six men they steered a course for north,
It wis 1916 wi’ the country at war,
But the lads of the Bella they didnae get far.
Line fishing it wis the task of the day,
As they shot their lines just off Catterline Bay,
To hunt fine silver fish and tae Gourdon tae sell,
When the hunters became the hunted themselves.
A German U – boat had surfaced and came closing in,
Took command of the Bella and all of her men,
Wi the crew taken prisoner by German marines,
The Bella wis blown in the water intae smithereens.

There was skipper James Ritchie, Auld Brimy by  name,
His son Jimmy Ritchie, a fine lad o his ane,
James Freeman Ritchie, William Ritchie and a’
On that German U – boat they were a’ taen awa.’
Auld Johnny was the tee name for old John Cargill,
And Davity his son wis taen prisoner as well,
In the morning six fishermen were working and free,
And by nightfall they were sailing for far Germany.
Now what wis the sense in such an event,
Fower Ritchies, twa Cargills tae Germany went,
As prisoners of war for two years they stayed,
For fishing that day in Catterline Bay.

When they returned tae their hames and in Gourdon set foot,
I’m sure they oft wondered whit it wis a’ aboot,
For the whole German navy and yon Kaiser fellah,
Scared o’ six Gourdon men and their boat called the Bella.
© Ramsay April 2007 (Seethe model boat Happy Return downstairs for more.)

This panel is dedicated to the work of Robert Gove and Roy Souter, in preserving the rich maritime heritage of Gourdon.

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