The Hera

On the night of the 31 January-1 February 1914, the “Hera” was wrecked on the outer stones of Gull Rock just off Nare Head in Veryan Parish.
Only five of the crew of 24 survived. Fifteen bodies were eventually recovered and are buried in the churchyard of St Symphorian’s Church, Veryan. The Captain, whose body was sent back to Germany for burial, and the three men whose bodies were never found are commemorated on the memorial stone that marks what is reputed to be the longest marked grave in the country.
Hera at sea
The Hera at Sea

Originally the Richard Wagner, the 1994 ton Hera was owned by Rhederei Aktien of Hamburg. On that February night the Hera was 91 days out of Pisaqua loaded with Chilien nitrates, and closing the Lizard. The weather was rough with a gale blowing, and Captain Lorentz was unsure as to his exact position. He thought to sail slowly into Falmouth bay and pick up the flash of either St. Anthony’s light or the Lizard. As dusk fell the weather steadily worsened and as the hours passed they still saw no shore lights. At about midnight the second mate reported land ahead. Captain Lorentz ordered the Hera put about, but the ship was slow to answer the helm and seconds later the Hera was impaled on Gull Rock.

You can read more about the Hera and the events of the night of 31 January/1 February 1914 by clicking on the link below. There is also a booklet available to be purchased in the church.

The Hera

Some photo’s relating to the Hera can be seen by clicking on the link below:

The Hera Photos

The Centenary Weekend 1-2 February 2014

On the weekend of 1-2 February 2014 the loss of the Hera and her crew, and also the part played by those involved in the rescue was commemorated in Veryan Church with a Requiem Mass and the re-dedication of the grave. On Saturday 1st February there was an exhibition of artefacts, photos and reports which was opened by Bishop Chris Goldsmith (Bishop of St Germans) & Revd Steven Wild (Chairman of Cornwall Methodist District).  One of the most amazing events in that memorable ’Hera’ weekend was the visit by Mrs Kathleen Benney (neé Frost) who was the baby in her mother’s arms in the photograph taken in 1914 at the graveside. Mrs Benney came to see the display in the church and was photographed, appropriately, beside her own infant image. That evening there was an evening of song and story to commemorate and remember, with Du Hag Owr, Philleigh Shout, Trounce Guy and Charles Fox.

The Requiem Mass took place on Sunday 2 February at 11 am with Revd Jon Robertshaw preaching and the re-dedication of the memorials by Canon Doug, Ven Roger Bush (Dean of Truro Cathedral) and Revd Mark Dunn-Wilson took place at 3 pm that afternoon with the German Honorary Consul (Plymouth) Mrs Angela Spatz in attendance.

Photos of the weekend can be seen here: Hera Commemoration Weekend 2014

The Wreck Today

In 1959, a group of divers explored the wreck having been taken to the site in the fishing boat of Les Johns and William Arthur Blamey. Among the items recovered were some of the ship’s portholes. A group of divers from the sub-aqua club of RAF St Mawgan began to investigate the wreck in 1970. After many dives they located the wreck and brought up a number of artefacts including links of chain, pulley blocks and lumps of coal stamped with a crown and “Cardiff”. some of these items, along with photographs, were presented to the then landlord of the “New Inn” Veryan for permanent display in the bar. Since the early dives, the wreck has been visited several times with more artifacts recovered.

Today the Hera lies well broken up and scattered on a rock and sandy bottom in about fifty feet of water. It is a very pretty dive with most of the metal spars and plating covered in beautiful plumose anemones. There is plenty here to see and lots of fish life especially large Pollack and a rather large orange coloured starfish.
On 16 March 2014 a commemorative plaque was placed on the wreck.