The following account is based upon an article in the "SHIPPING ILLUSTRATED" of November 7th 1908 and family knowledge.

Coming from Java and passing through the Suez Canal on the night of September 12th, in order to avert a collision, the ss Valentia struck the canal bank with considerable force. However, no ill results being apparent, the ship proceeded on her voyage. For some days after passing Gibralter stormy weather was experienced in Atlantic waters, and on the morning of October 6th the starboard bilge was found to contain nearly 8 feet of water.

Pumping began immediately but on the second day the water was still rising and it was believed the ship was seriously holed and in danger of sinking.

The exact position of the hole was not known and work began on finding it. This needed men to go down to the bottom of the ship and eventually drill through twenty nine walls of the steel seperating compartments until the leek was found. These compartments were only 4 or 5 feet square and their height no more than 3’6". It was a prodigious task lasting night and day for a week. Few men would have considered it possible, what with the confined space in which to work, the compartments often with a foot of dirty water swishing about in them and the air so foul that good light was impossible, A line had to be led through one hole after another as the passage progressed so that workers could guide themselves by holding it as they crawled in and out.

Eventually the hole was found and plugged and the ship arrived safely in New York and a cargo largely undamaged.

The Chief Engineer of the ship was William Leadson GILLINGS (1873-1950) of Fylingthorpe. His son, Major John Albert ‘Jack’ Gillings, in a letter dated 1971 pointed out that in those days there was no oxy-acetylene cutting equipment, electric drills nor pneumatic tools, and that each hole would have been laboriously made using "a flat drill and a hand operated ratchet".

The Valentia was 3,242 gross, 342 feet long, built at Sunderland in 1898 and owned by the International Line Steamship Co of Whitby whose Managing Director was Mr C.(Christopher?) MARWOOD.

The Captain was Owen Richards and other members of the crew involved included Charles Watson, chief mate, Alexander Stronach, second engineer. and Oscar Samuelen, carpenter.

A sad postscript is that the Valentia, whilst sailing in the Atlantic 16th July 1917, was struck by a torpedo from a submarine. She sank with the loss of 25 lives including the master.