Trinity House falls victim to the most severe of the air attacks on London.
When incendiary bombs landed on the wooden beams of the house, fire fighters were able put out the first fire caused by the bombs, but the shortage of water prevented their efforts to extinguish subsequent fires. On the morning of 31 December 1940 the staff found the whole of the Wyatt building and the offices at the back with their walls more or less intact, but the interiors completely gutted; apart from the separate East Wing, the only surviving portion of the building was the basement wine cellar. Many archives, rarities, fine models, hangings and paintings were destroyed, save for the paintings that had been at Bayham Abbey, and some archives and books that had gone to the countryside.
THV Triton is commissioned into service, built by Cochran’s of Selby. This vessel had a slightly altered design intended for lightvessel relief and towing rather than buoy-lifting.
THV Triton was initially designed as an Icelandic trawler, but her building was interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1939. As casualties to Trinity House’s fleet mounted, Trinity House took over Triton and converted her (while afloat) into a lightvessel relief tender. A later survey of the vessel stated that “the ship had unusually unkindly sea behaviour due to her conversion.”
Her length overall was 189′ 9″ and she sailed with a complement of 29. THV Triton was sold out of service 1963.
Trinity House Evacuates Alderney during the Second World War
In June 1940 the Cowes District relief by THV Vestal (formerly the first Patricia) was in progress, when she was suddenly ordered to the Channel Islands to evacuate “all Lightkeepers and their families and anyone else who wished to come.”
With no other means of evacuation promised, several islanders also came on board. The unaccompanied men occupied the lightsmen’s berth; couples occupied the officers’ berths or the large officers’ mess room; groups of young women kept together in spare cabins and the officers’ cabins.
The officers and crew slept where they could. In the stewards’ two-berth cabin were put a crippled girl, a heavily pregnant woman and the Alderney District Nurse. In the biggest spare cabin, formerly the state room of the Elder Brethren, were put six small children, three at each end of the big double bed, while their mothers slept on the deck beside them.