A Well known Goole seafarer. Captain John William Footitt, whose present address is 109, Hook Road, Goole receives the award of M.B.E. in the New Year Honours List. A native of Brotherton, he went to sea as a boy of fourteen and at the age of 63 is master of a vessel chiefly engaged in coastal work. He had several adventures at the time of the collapse of France, and was a Trinity House pilot during the last war.
Captain Footitt's early sea career took him to many parts of the world in the old windjammers. At the age of about twenty-five he got his mate's certificate and about two years later his master's certificate. He frequently sailed out of Goole and before the last war he was master in the vessel owned by Messrs. G.T. Gillies, of Newcastle. During the was, however, he was a Trinity House pilot and he had many exiting experiences. On one occasion was a vessel in his care sunk, a grainship being torpedoed off Whitby. Capt. Footitt came unscathed through that experience.
After the war he returned to Messrs. Gillies' boats and five years afterwards was made a Freeman of the City of London.
About ten years ago he joined Messrs. T.H. Donkin and sons, of Middlesbrough, and among the vessels he captained was a former well known Goole trader, He continued to go to sea when war was declared and the spring of 1940 saw him engaged in a series of adventures in which he had narrow escapes from death and capture at the hands of the enemy. Capt. Footitt's ship was in the port of Ghent when Hitler invaded the low countries, and, acting on his own initiative, sailed from the port just in time. Next he had a cargo for Calais, where he went while the neighbouring port of Boulogna was already in German hands. A bridge separated his vessel from the open sea and the French refused to open it. Fifth Column activity was expected and finally the British Navy blew up the bridge, and, amid severe bombing, his ship was able to proceed. She landed despite her small size, well over five hundred refugees at Folkstone.
But Captain Footitt had not finished with the French yet. He was ordered to St. Nazaire and while there the Nazis occupied Nantes. He was unable to discharge his cargo and brought his vessel safely home to this country.
Since then he has almost without a break been running through dangerous coastal waters and brushes with enemy planes and E-boats have become almost commonplace with him. Much of his time has been spent in the channel and he has on very many occasions had to run the gauntlet in coastal convoys through “Bomb Alley.”
He and Mrs Footitt live at 74, Lake Drive, Hull but are at present staying with their son-in-law and daughter, Mr and Mrs. Hopley, at Goole. Their only son, Mr J.W. Footitt, married Miss Ruth Hopley, of Goole, and he is an engineering instructor at Hull Technical College, having previously been a marine engineer. Their other daughter is Mrs. Robson, of Lincoln. When the award was announced Capt. Footitt was away at sea.
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