Part of the Acorn Archive

Hearts of Oak



SS Isabo



Built  1914 Cant. Nav.Triestino

For Soc. Anon di Nav. Marco U. Martinolich, Lussinpiccolo, Italy.

6,827 tons

422ft x 54ft x 27ft 4ins

2,800 ihp; 12 knots; triple-expansion engines.

The Italian steamship ISABO bound for Hamburg from Montreal with grain, became stranded on the Scilly Rock, off Bryher, Isles of Scilly, on the afternoon of 27th October 1927, in a dense fog. Islanders on Bryher heard the ship's siren and rowed the CZAR from Great Porth to Scilly Rock. Motor boats IVY and SUNBEAM also set out. The Isabo broke in two some hours after striking and the cargo spread itself over the sea, adding to the already difficult task of the lifeboat. Heavy seas and grain covering the sea, as well as large timbers ( cargo hold separators ) prevented a full rescue; and so 11 men remained clinging to the rigging throughout the night. Another spent the night on Scilly Rock, itself. Some, by morning, had held on to floating wreckage, attempting to reach shore, one was left holding on to the mast head, the third officer.

Of the ISABO's crew of 38 ( Italians and Estonians ) who had set out from Lussinpiccolo in Italy, 28 men were rescued by the Bryher boats and 4 by the lifeboat. Six men had drowned and one died from exposure.






Janie Slaughter with my gran Thompson 1936


My aunt May Pascoe ( nee Thompson ) used to tell me the story, as she remembered. One of the men rescued from the rigging by the lifeboat owed his life to Janie Slaughter who revived him with mouth to mouth resuscitation when he collapsed on St Mary's. She then looked after him for three weeks, She called him “My Boy” or “My Poor Boy”. After spending that terrible night clinging to the masthead, he was completely black and blue from exposure and bruising. Janie Slaughter said that when he was brought ashore she thought he was an African.


Forty years later, Signor Rolli from Venice, by then in his sixties and a sea Captain, returned to thank Janie Slaughter again, for his life.




Janie Slaughter was my grandfather’s second cousin [ my grandfather was Francis Orlando ( Frank ) Thompson ]. She was born Annie Jane Phillips; in 1902 aged 18, married James Thomas Maddern, and later married Samuel ( Sam ) Slaughter. My mother knew them as Auntie Jane and Uncle Sam. I have been handed down the pictures Janie gave to my grandfather, with her descriptions of the photographs and the paintings done by my grandfather’s cousin Harry Barrett, second coxwain of the ELSIE.


3rd Officer Rollo with Janie and Sam Slaughter



The heroes of Bryher


W E Jenkins, S Pender, W T Pender, F Jenkins, AT Jenkins,

N Jenkins, J J Jenkins; and the Reverend Pearce.


C Jenkins, E R Jenkins, S T Jenkins,

J Jenkins, J E Pender and S G Jenkins.


E Jenkins, S Jenkins and J S Jenkins.


Full Story at


21st January 1955, lifeboat CUNARD together with gigs SUSSEX and CZAR went out to rescue the crew of the Panamanian steamer MANDO, on route from Hampton Roads to Rotterdam, with a cargo of coal. The 7,170 ton MANDO headed through the Atlantic fog and came into the northern rocks, striking Golden Ball reef, near the Men-a-Vaur.  One of the seamen rescued knew the situation well, as he was the pantry lad from the ISABO, rescued from the rigging.

Matt Lethbridge was again the coxwain, his son being second coxwain, this time.


David Podd named three of his trawlers after these islands,


See the pages on the WH Podd Fleet


Bryher is a special island where I feel at home. I have often sat at Shipman Head with a high sea running; here, where the last bastion of land meets the Atlantic, the sea and jagged rocks are a fascinating yet cruel sight. It is not unusual to see raging horses of foam in Hell Bay, stretching in the sunshine, to Mincarlo and Scilly Rock, whilst all around the sea is running it’s normal self.

When the weather is wild, this area is not the place to be for any life.

Tranquil beauty becomes a raging monster. The Scillonians meet this with their tradition, knowledge and resolve.


Raymond Forward