ONE of the most incredible seafaring family tales in recent times has surfaced in Weymouth.

The exploits of the Symons family, their contact with the sea and their role in famous sea incidents is packed with astonishing facts.

George Symons was a lookout on board the ill-fated White Star liner Titanic, which sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912.

His surviving niece, Dawn Gould, from Weymouth said: "As the ship went down he was put in charge of Lifeboat Number 1 which he helped to row away from Titanic."

George was in the lifeboat for many hours until the Carpathia liner, one of several ships to answer the Titanic's call for help, arrived at the scene.

Dawn said: "George was amazed to find that one of the Carpathia's crew helping to rescue him was his brother, Jack!"

It seemed that fate was destined to bring them together and there could be few worse places for the two brothers to accidentally run across each other than Gallipoli.

This hellish First World War confrontation between the Allies and Turkey left hundreds of thousands dead - but not George and Jack, who somehow ran into each other ashore and then incredibly stumbled across their other brother, Bob, who had been seriously wounded there in action with the Marines.

Dawn said: "The family always thought that it was a miraculous coincidence for all three of them to meet in the middle of war. Bob was still having shrapnel removed from his body 60 years later."

The amazing Titanic rescue link-up between George and Jack was reversed a few years later when the Carpathia was torpedoed by the German submarine U55 on July 17, 1918, off the east coast of Ireland.

Dawn said: "The Carpathia sank and Jack managed to get off only to find his brother George was one of the crew of the ship which picked him up."

Another First World War family link comes with Dawn's grandfather, Robert, who was chief diver at Portland Dockyard.

She said: "He was responsible for sinking the battleship HMS Hood in the channel to prevent German submarines from getting into Portland Harbour."

The Symons family association with the sea moved on to the Second World War when Bill Symons, the younger brother of George, Jack and Bob joined the Merchant Navy.

Dawn said: "He was on the tugboat at Portland which rescued people off HMS Foylebank, a merchant ship converted into an anti-aircraft ship which was attacked by German dive bombers in July 1940."

It was during this action that Leading Seaman Jack Mantle won a posthumous Victoria Cross for staying at his gun and continuing to fight enemy aircraft despite being seriously wounded.

Not long after this Dawn herself joined the fray as a junior reporter on the Southern Times in 1943, getting grim first hand knowledge of the conflict.

She said: "I used to have to go round to people's homes, all people I knew, and say I had heard their son had been killed in action and could I have a picture of them for the newspaper. It was not much of a job, not very nice for a teenager.

"I also used to help look after refugees at Alexandra Gardens in Weymouth because I was only about 13 at the time and my mother couldn't leave me on my own.

"Sometimes there were 30,000 refugees a day coming in to Weymouth, first from Belgium and France and lastly from the Channel Islands. They had been dive bombed, machine-gunned, the lot. Some of the tales were terrible."

Dawn herself has a very personal memory of the Second World War... she married a German Messerschmitt fighter pilot prisoner of war.

She said: "I met him when I was in the Land Army at Beaminster and he was a prisoner of war at Parnham House."

They married in 1948 but he was sadly killed in a car accident in Germany in 1961.

Dawn later met and married Gordon Gould in 1962, continuing the services link since he was in the Royal Dragoon Guards. The couple still live together in Newstead Road.

Dawn said: "As a family I don't know many could beat us for our seafaring or wartime connections. My proudest possession is the scrapbook of all my memories and the family's memories. It is irreplaceable."