The Spurn Lightship and WW2

Upon the outbreak of World War Two, the Spurn Lightship was forced to observe new rules for the safety of themselves and for the security of the country. The regulations set up during the war were then used to prepare schemes in case there should ever be another state of emergency.

The first real rule affected the use of wireless telegraphy as it became mandatory to gain a license for the use of it. The license was granted by the Post Master General and stressed the need to avoid interference with military signalling. The Admiralty, Army Council and Air Council could also now ask for the closure of a station if they believed the working of the station to be inconsistent with the free use of signalling.

Light Regulations


Changes were also made in the regulation of the lights. All lights within Board jurisdiction were classified as: E (to be extinguished), L (to be left burning in the interests of shipping, having been dimmed and screened), or E+ (to be extinguished, except in certain circumstances). The Middle (Spurn) Lightship was classified as E+ and only gave out light with the approval of the Flag Officer, for either HM Ships or Merchant Ships on days which had two dark tides. Even in these cases, the lights including the riding lights (the anchor light) had to be reduced in brilliancy. All lights were returned to full brilliancy after the war and the Spurn was re-classified as R in future times of emergency which meant that it was to have reduced light power except in fog.

A crew member, Mr Milner, who was aboard the Spurn when war broke out during 1939, remembers how they used to get around the problem of extinguished lights: When the crew would listen below deck for the sound of returning trawlers and rush onto the deck to shine torches onto the name of the ship. He also remembered the one instance when the Spurn was attacked by German aircrafts and the crew were forced to dodge the machine gun bursts that were being fired at them.

Provisions were also made in case of an enemy invasion. Buoys were allowed to have their moorings slipped and allowed to float out of position while lightships were to be towed to a safe position. In the case of the Lightship having to be abandoned they were instructed to empty all fuel and petrol into the River Humber.