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HMS FORMIDABLE - THE SCENE AT LYME REGIS

 

From the Western Times

2 January 1915

At 11.15 on Friday night, Mr and Mrs Harding of Lyme who had been dining out, were returning by way of the seafront, when they heard cries from the direction of the English Channel. Imagining that something was wrong, they ran for assistance, and in the meanwhile, Police Sergeant Stuckley also heard the cries of men in a boat.

The Police Sergeant  called for help and  Police Constable Rhydeout came to his assistance, together with several others who summoned a number of fisherman, including Coxswain R. W. Abbott. The idea at first, was to launch the lifboat but seas were running very heavily and breaking over the cinema on the sea front, and it had abated very little when the boat containing the distressed mariners was seen.

It was soon discovered that it wouold not be necessary to launch the lifeboat, for the whaler (known in the Navy as a pinnace) containing the survivors was already upon the beach. One of the men sitting in the bow threw a rope ashore and PS Stickley ran into the surf and caught it. He held on and in a few moments another man came to his aid. Just afterwards, one man on the boat jumped overboard with the intention of running ashore but he was so exhausted that he collapsed. He was carried seaward by the receeding surf and the Sergeant had to release the rope to save the man's life.

Plenty of help was soon forthcomiong and the men were assisted ashore. The boat was half full of water which lapped the faces of 6 men who were lying in the bottom.* They were removed as soon as possible and taken to the beach, where endeavours were made to bring them round. It was soon found, however, that the place was far too cold for this.

By this time, people in the houses on the front had opened their premises and the men were accommodated as quickly as they could be taken in. Many of them were sent to the Pilot Boat Inn. Everything possible was done for them and on Saturday, they were reported as having made a speedy recovery.

 

*Not all the men were lucky enough to be survivors. A total of 9 men died in Lyme. Their names appear at the foot of this page:

The Pilot Boat Inn, Lyme Regis

The Pilot Boat Inn in Bridge Street, Lyme

 

Men from HMS Formidable who died in Lyme Bay

William C. Eley - Stoker RNR B 9507.  SS 106878(Ch)

Horace F. Bernthal - Stoker 1st Class SS 112713 (Ch)

William Feldon - Petty officer 1st Class 178093 (Ch)

John W. Pells - Acting Leading Stoker K516 (Ch)

William W. Fawkes - Stoker 1st Class 30373 (Ch)

Henry A Souter - Stoker RNRT X 2373 (Ch)

Bernard Smyth - Boy 1st Class J 23725 (Ch)

and

The Russell twins - both volunteers from the St John's Ambulance Brigade

(said to have died with their arms around one another)

Henry - Senior Reserve Attendant M 10984

John - Senior Reserve Attendant M 10985

 

 

 
 
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