“On Saturday 23 February 1918, I being master of the fishing boat ‘Girl Emily’ of Peel put to sea with a crew of four men, about four o’clock pm. Whilst about ten miles off Peel, fishing for cod, we encountered a German submarine which cam alongside of us. They asked if I was fishing, I answered “yes”. He then left us and came around on our starboard quarter, and when about one hundred yards away he fired at us, I was at the tiller and the shot struck a stanchion not a yard away from my front. i was severely wounded in the face with splinters. Some splinters entered beneath my right eye, and have seriously affected my sight.
The Germans then fired three times again the shots going through the bulwarks and the sail. They came alongside and demanded our fish which, as we were quite helpless we gave to them. There was £20 worth of fish, and they took all. I was in the Doctor’s care for three weeks, and the experience has also shaken my nerve, so that as a consequence I have not been able to prosecute my calling as a fisherman as profitably as before the accident.
I am sixty eight years of age and I might add that two of my sons served with his majesties [sic] Navy during the war, and one lost his life whilst serving King and country. I would respectfully ask if you can assist me to procure some compensation for the loss I sustained through the attack made on my boat by an enemy submarine”.
John Hughes, the skipper of fishing boat Girl Emily, to the War Pensions Committee, 1919
Quoted in This Terrible Ordeal: Manx Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War by Matthew Richardson