Gower Shipwreck - Wittezee, Overton Mere

Name: Wittezee
Nationality: Dutch
Location: Overton Mere
Date of Wreck: 12/11/1940
Cargo: None. Tug boat.
Visible Remains: Extensive remnants of hull stretching from bow to stern with signs of salvage.
Steel cable from the tugs towing apparatus and numerous other small fragments of hull.
Numerous steel body panels with visible door openings and base of a mast/chimney (removed November 2011).

The Wittezee was a Rotterdam registered tug which had been heading from Falmouth to Lamlash on the 12th November 1940 before it came to grief along the Gower coast. That day almost hurricane force winds were battering south Wales and the tug found itself pushed up against the rocks. A group of coastguards were able to persuade the crew to stay aboard the ship until the tide retreated and they were able to leave safely, efforts that were rewarded by the Netherlands government. As for the Wittezee herself, she became a complete wreck and was ultimately broken up and sold for scrap.

At low tides it is possible to walk out across the exposed rocks of Overton Mere and look upon what remains of the Wittezee. Now lying on one side much of her hull has been taken for scrap but it is still possible to trace her shape from bow to stern. In places the power of the sea has shaped the sheets of steel to perfectly match the underlying rock formations, a testament to the forces that once tore her apart.

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Nearby the tangled remains of the steel cable that would once have formed part of the Wittezee's towing capability can be found, whilst the wreck itself still shows an original manufacturers mark on one of the steel ribs.

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Away from the wreck site the ships wheel resides in the Ship Inn at Port Eynon. It was presented to the owners as a thank you for their hospitality on that fateful night.

Prior to November 2009 several large steel panels could be found much higher up the beach from where the hull currently lies. Many of those panels still showed signs of an internal structure, whilst the best came complete with hinges and a door opening and no doubt once formed part of the wheelhouse. Nearby lay the partial remains of either a roof or deck made from wooden planks fixed together with steel and sealed with tar. In the centre of this piece lay a circular fixing point and nearby the remains of either a mast or chimney. That steel tube was some eight foot in length and showed clear signs of the stresses that it was once placed under. Sadly all of these artefacts were removed during the installation of an outflow pipe by Welsh Water and are no longer present.

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