Tuesday, 9 December 2008


122 years ago in the North of the Irish sea, 3 lifeboat crews went to the rescue of the 12 crew of a foundering German Barque, the 'Mexico'. The Southport lifeboat the Eliza Fernley launched first but capsized and 14 of her 16 crew drowned. Next the St Annes lifeboat the Laura Janet also capsized amidst mountainous seas and all 13 of her crew drowned. Finally a third lifeboat from Lytham got to the Mexico and in a long operation saved all of her crew and returned them safely to shore. In total 44 lifeboatmen went to sea that night. Only 17 returned.

The Times carries the full story this morning. I couldn't read it without feeling awestruck by the matter of fact way in which these men surrendered their own lives for those of others. You might also like to look here and here to read further.

A public fund for relief of the sixteen widows and fifty orphans was opened.
The RNLI contributed £2,000, the queen and the emperor of Germany also contributed. A further result of the tragedy was that the world's first ever charity street collection was held to raise funds for the bereaved families. Though the first, this collection lay the foundations for the RNLI lifeboat days which are now held regularly around the country.

(Thanks to the BBC for the Photo)


Phil Parker said...

This makes me wonder - how danagerous is lifeboating ? How many volunteers die each year and how does that affect recruiting ?

Anonymous said...

Remarkable and appalling. I hadn't heard this story.

News reports and more here ...

Mark R

Anonymous said...

After reading this a question comes to mind. Do you have to be able to swim to become a lifeboatman? Do you know of anyone on your team who can't?

Douglas Wilcox said...

Truly humbling.