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The Loss Of The Lifeboat, The 'Solomon Browne'

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Image credit - Penleecluster.org

Lieutenant Commander Russell Smith, the pilot of the Sea King helicopter, recounted:

 
The greatest act of courage that I have ever seen, and am ever likely to see, was the penultimate courage and dedication shown by the Penlee lifeboat crew.
 
‘They were truly the bravest eight men I've ever seen, who were also totally dedicated to upholding the highest standards of the RNLI.
 
In the year ninteen eighty one on the nineteenth day of December A day the town of Mousehole in Cornwall, will always remember An R.N.L.I. Watson class wooden lifeboat, the 'Solomon Browne' Launched from Penlee lifeboat station in that little coastal town. A coaster on its maiden voyage had set sail from a port in Holland With a large cargo of fertiliser for the town of Arklow in Ireland Eight miles off the English coast, water breached the engine room Hundred mile an hour winds blew, the darkness added to the gloom. The crew tried to restart her engines but their efforts were in vain Outside conditions worsened with hurricane winds and heavy rain The coaster was the 'Union Star' and it was floundering helplessly It had now lost the use of its engines and was at the mercy of the sea. The captain radioed the coastguard to report their dire situation Who then contacted air sea rescue at Culdrose naval station. A Royal Navy helicopter was scrambled to try and rescue the crew But in the powerful hurricane force winds, it was impossible to do. Sixty foot waves battered the ship and the sea showed no mercy Its tall mast rocked to and fro that would have caused a catastrophe The helicopters winch line was too short and so they had to abort And a distress call was made to Penlee Station, to launch the lifeboat. Because of the relentless hurricane conditions raging out on the sea The captain of the lifeboat chose seven, just one from each family That night the gates of hell opened as they struggled across the sea The helicopter pilot said he'd never before, witnessed such bravery. Eight people were on board the 'Union Star' and the lifeboat rescued four They radioed the helicopter to say, they'd try and rescue the other four The lifeboats lights went out and contact with the coastguard was lost Their heroic rescue mission was doomed and with their lives paid the cost. The helicopter was very low on fuel and had to head back to base And when they returned to the scene later there wasn't a trace Both the 'Union Star' and the lifeboat had been capsized by the waves Sending both ships crew and the lifeboatmen, to their watery graves. The next day wreckage from both vessels was washed up ashore That was a stark painful reminder of the events the night before Sixteen people lost their lives that night, to the unforgiving sea Eight from the 'Union Star' and the eight lifeboatmen of Penlee. The next day papers reported, on that heartbreaking tragedy And an appeal was made for the families of the men lost at sea All up and down the country people donated generously And people the world over, sent messages of sympathy. The lifeboatmen of Penlee were awarded medals posthumously For their dedication to duty and their extreme gallantry Within days volunteers came forward to form a new crew To carry on saving lives at sea, because that's what they do. Every year the Christmas lights on the nineteenth day of December Are turned off for one hour so that the bereaved families can remember. One illuminated cross and two angels, are left on in their memory Shining brightly across the town of Mousehole and out across the sea. After the disaster they closed down the Penlee lifeboat station And now stands as a memorial to those brave mens dedication Everything has been left in place as it was, on that fateful night And to have carried on using it, just wouldn't have been right. A new lifeboat station was built in Newlyn in nineteen eighty three Just over a mile up the coastline from the old station at Penlee It still bears the same name and that name will always be Associated with men of great courage and extreme bravery. Written 28th September 2021.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021




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Date: 11/26/2021 1:38:00 PM
Oh the cruuel rain and the wind.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 11/26/2021 2:01:00 PM
Thank you very much Ken, the sea can be a dangerous place when hurricane force winds are blowing. Tom
Date: 10/24/2021 1:39:00 AM
No wonder this one received the potd award, Tom! Acts of courage such as this one are not meant to get lost in the passage of time. ~ Regards // paul
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/24/2021 1:51:00 AM
Thank you very much Paul, not many would have attempted a rescue in hurricane force weather conditions, they were a special breed of men, I remember the tragedy well nearly forty years ago. They are commemorated every year and rightly so. Tom
Date: 10/9/2021 11:14:00 PM
What a poignant tribute to this crew, Tom. Excellent write!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/10/2021 1:52:00 AM
Thank you very much Jennifer, it happened over forty years ago and I remember the tragedy well. Such bravery shown by those men. Tom
Date: 10/5/2021 3:32:00 AM
So many things I can say about this wonderful depiction. Us humans want to save lives even at the cost of our own. I imagine the life boat coming to shore on that side of heaven. If we were in dire straights, to know there is a margin of hope in being rescued, gives us strength. The worst is when the weak and craven refuse to step up. May we learn from our mentors how to be the best of mankind! Again congratulations for a most deserved POTD! <3 Kim
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/5/2021 3:58:00 AM
Thank you very much for your return visit and congrats Kim, their bravery has not been forgotten and they are remembered every year with a flotilla of boats to honour them. They knew they went out at great risk to themselves but still went to try and save others. Tom
Date: 10/4/2021 7:53:00 PM
Heartwarming as it is heartbreaking, you have penned yet another masterpiece, Tom. Bravo, Maestro!! ~ Gershon
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/4/2021 11:57:00 PM
Thank you very much Gershon, there's not many who'd venture out in 60 foot hurricane force winds to attempt a rescue. Tom
Date: 10/4/2021 4:55:00 PM
Dear Tom, you have penned such an amazing tribute to these brave men caught in harrowing circumstances. Such a tragedy! You are a gifted storyteller and your gripping poem is epic. Congratulations for your exceptional and poignant poem being recognized with POTD honors. A superb choice! Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/4/2021 5:02:00 PM
Thank you very much for your congrats Susan, it was such a tragic story to tell but what shone through was the bravery of the lifeboat crew who risked and sadly payed with their lives trying to rescue others. I hope you are keeping well. Tom
Date: 10/4/2021 2:43:00 PM
I see you got a POTd. BIG congrats on a well deserved win, tom
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/4/2021 4:55:00 PM
Thank you very much for your congrats and return visit Andrea. Tom
Date: 10/3/2021 4:39:00 PM
Hello Tom ... wow! A sad scene of history written in poetry format, as you have on many occasions. Plenty of readers would never these historical tales if it wan't for your poems Tom - Lindsay
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/4/2021 3:51:00 AM
Thank you very much Lindsay, it was a terrible tragedy forty years ago this year. Their bravery has never been forgotten. Tom
Date: 10/3/2021 2:12:00 PM
So very sad but so creatively penned dear friend this one and all your wonderfully researched stories deserve POTD twice over, I applaud your poetic skills Tom, and hope that you enjoyed this day and the deserved honor that goes with it. Blessings, Jennifer
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/3/2021 2:14:00 PM
Thank you very much Jennifer, I'd been meaning to write a tribute to those brave men for some time and finally got around to it. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Had a busy day at my daughters doing D. I. Y. Tom
Date: 10/3/2021 1:46:00 PM
PS. Congrats on POTD Well deserved
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/3/2021 1:51:00 PM
Thank you very much for your congrats Judy. Tom
Date: 10/3/2021 1:45:00 PM
A fine tribute to two crews of very brave men. Bravo my friend. God Bess, JB
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/3/2021 1:51:00 PM
Thank you very much Judy, they thought nothing of going out in hurricane conditions to try and save others, all dedicated and unpaid volunteers. Tom
Date: 10/3/2021 10:35:00 AM
Congratulations Tom, on this well deserved POTD! I was drawn into this incredible story of such tragedy and selfless bravery. Penned so well, I read it close to tears, holding my breath, for the next line. A wonderful heartfelt tribute, Tom.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/3/2021 12:11:00 PM
Thank you very much Sandra, it was a terrible tragedy that happened forty years ago this year, I remember it well. Tom
Date: 10/2/2021 6:44:00 PM
Congratulations on POTD with one of your epics!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/3/2021 12:09:00 PM
Thank you very much Kim, such a terrible loss of life. Tom
Date: 10/2/2021 7:41:00 AM
Such an amazing tribute to these very brave and dedicated men Tom. A wonderful write and such a sad ending. Truly a wonderful POTD and should be POTW too. So many congratulations Tom, with kindest thoughts Ann xx
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 10/2/2021 8:21:00 AM
Thank you very much Ann, it was such a terrible tragedy, watched a documentary recently and they were interviewing the crew, it made it even more real seeing those brave men in life. And as you know all dedicated and unpaid volunteers. Hope your weekend is going well. Tom
Date: 9/30/2021 12:44:00 PM
Sad story you have penned in this one. I hope that they were prepared to go on to a better place. Men who go to sea have to be made of some tough material. I enjoyed reading your story in poetic form. Sara
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 1:05:00 PM
Thank you very much Sara, it was a terrible tragedy but as you say they were a tough breed of men. Tom
Date: 9/30/2021 8:52:00 AM
Poetic tribute to dedicated seafaring men who willingly put their lives in danger when rescuing others. All souls R.I.P...Delice
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 10:51:00 AM
Thank you very much Delice, true heroes who didn't think twice about going out in atrocious conditions. Tom
Date: 9/30/2021 6:09:00 AM
Amazing writing... so engrossing and enriching... Wonderful. Your poems reveal your brilliant mind and tender heart and fill us all with wonder and amazement. You're a wonderful poet and story teller. God bless you and congrats on POTD. Love, Gina
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 6:25:00 AM
Thank you very much Gina, I'm happy you enjoyed it. Have a great weekend. Tom
Date: 9/30/2021 4:16:00 AM
What a fantastic story of bravery and dedication. my dearest friend, Tom. A superb narration that absolutely deserves the POTD Honor! God bless you! A FAVE!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 4:22:00 AM
Thank you very much for your congrats Demetrios and for faving it, they were without doubt the bravest men I'd ever heard of, putting others lives before their own. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 9:49:00 PM
Congratulations for a well deserved POTD.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:45:00 AM
Thank you very much for your return visit and congrats Victor. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 8:20:00 PM
Such a tragedy indeed. "Sending both ships crew and the life-boatmen, to their watery graves" This breaks my heart. Those brave men will always be remembered. This is tender and emotional, all at the same time. Congratulations Tom, on Poem of the Day. My best to you. ~ Brandy
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:45:00 AM
Thank you very much for your congrats Brandy. Not many would have ventured out that night but they did and lost their lives in that brave attempt to rescue people on the stricken ship. Hope you're well. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 7:22:00 PM
What can one say that has not being said in these worthwhile comments below, while i can only agree and endorse, which i certainly do, knowing that my great Grandfather on my mothers side, died at sea, being he was a trawlerman from Grimsby. Congratulations on potd, with this sad yet wonderful story.
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:43:00 AM
Thank you very much Harry, it can be a dangerous occupation working at sea, im sorry to hear about your grandfather. As you know when the weather changes it can mean life or death. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 6:52:00 PM
Congratulations, Tom, on your POTD. You are a great story-teller - and this is another of your epic poem. Best wishes ~ Mala
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:40:00 AM
Thank you very much Mala, forty years later that small community still feel the loss of those brave men who died that night. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 4:24:00 PM
What a wonderful epic poem, Tom! Those lifeboatmen were each a true hero. Your rhyming is spectacular! I love the stories your poems tell. Congratulations on an excellent choice as POTD!
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:38:00 AM
Thank you very much Ann, im glad that you enjoyed it. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 3:55:00 PM
You’ve told the story of the loss of the lifeboat Solomon Browne so well through this poem Tom, I remember the sad occasion it was heartbreaking for everyone concerned. Congratulations on your well deserved poem of the day… Belle
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:37:00 AM
Thank you very much Belle, they were all experienced fishermen and knew the sea well but that might it was sheer hell but they still attempted a rescue. Tom
Date: 9/29/2021 3:41:00 PM
Tom, you pen wonderful stories, you are a true storyteller and congratulations on receiving POEM OF THE DAY enjoy the honor ~ peace and tranquility _Constance
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Tom Cunningham
Date: 9/30/2021 12:35:00 AM
Thank you very much Constance, I'm happy that you enjoyed it. Tom
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