We will never forget you.

Hello Dear Reader,

Thirty years ago, in a hurricane which measured force 12, in winds that measured 90 knots and seas that reached 60 feet high, the crew of the Solomon Browne, all unpaid RNLI volunteers answered the may day call from the coaster The Union Star.

More than a dozen men answered the call and Trevelyan Richards, the coxwain, picked the best eight man crew for the job. He made sure he didn’t take more than one man from any one family. He knew how treacherous the sea conditions were; he knew they might not return.

The helicopter from RNAS Culdrose, with an American pilot called Russell Smith was scrambled and they did everything they could. The Union Star had already lost one anchor and had four shackles of cable out, they couldn’t in any way steady the ship enough for a winchman (Steve Marlow) to be able to get any one off the ship. It wasn’t until the helicopter was above the ship and Russell Smith checked three times in disbelief when he heard there was a woman and two children aboard the coaster. Unable to affect a rescue, it was left the Solomon Browne to try and rescue to crew and passengers.

The Solomon Brown was a 47 feet long Watson Class wooden boat. I want you to look down at your feet and pace out the 47 feet. It’s the size of an average yatch and yet there it was, in a force 12, in 60 feet waves, being thrown around, under the sea most of the time, pitching and rolling, now with her crew on deck with grappling irons trying to get alongside the Union Star.

The helicopter stood down. There was nothing more they could do. The Solomon Brown had managed to get four people off the ship. It looked as if they were about to head for sea and head home…………they didn’t. There were four souls left on that ship and they turned back and tried to get alongside again…………it was then  that Falmouth Coast guard lost contact with the Penlee Lifeboat. The maritime call continued “Penlee Lifeboat, Penlee Lifeboat, Falmouth Coastguard. over”. They continued to call for 45 minutes. That call was never answered.

On the 21st December, at 20.12, the Penlee Lifeboat, with an eight man crew, all local men from Mousehole, put to sea. She never returned and all lives of those on the Union Star and the Solomon Brown were lost. To this day, the lifeboat station at Penlee Point stands, untouched as it did that night as a memorial to

Trevelyan Richards, Stephen Madron, Nigel Brockman, John Blewett, Charlie Greenhaugh, Kevin Smith, Barrie Torrie and Gary Wallis.

Their incredible bravery and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Postscript – You can listen to the news report and the radio contact between Falmouth Coastguard and the Penlee Lifeboat on the links on this page – it’s haunting and, once listened to, will never leave you. Here’s the link to the RNLI

 Froogs xxxxxxxxxxx


24 thoughts on “We will never forget you.

  1. Loss is always profound and Trevelyan Richards did his upmost to provide those in need the best help possible.
    good choice for a post like those we rember on november 11th they deserve equal prase mand respect.


  2. Thank you for sharing this. As an Australian I did not know the story. I can only imagine the bravery of those involved and the horror for those left behind. we tend to dismiss the might of the sea and the bravery of those who sail upon her.


  3. Thank you for sharing that story, I am ashamed to say that I have never heard it before. It reminds me of my Dad who was in the Navy just after the war and was stationed at St Austell just after he was demobbed he married my Mum and one of the hymns at their wedding was ' For those in peril on the sea' everyone thought it a strange choice for a wedding but my Dad really wanted it and my Mum didnt have the heart to say no. Thanks again for sharing x


  4. AFter living for a while in a village with a lifeboat and seeing the men bravely put out to sea whenever they were needed, for whatever reason in whatever condition of weather, I thoroughly respect the brave souls that man these vessels.

    A tragic tale, and one that must be remembered. Thank you for sharing.

    They shall not be forgotton.

    Sue xx


  5. What a wonderful post, especially at this time of year. I have not yet listened to the link – will have to feel strong for that. The men of the RNLI are truly remarkable and are heroes, every one of them.


  6. I was 9 or 10 when this happens and I do remember again now that I read your story.

    It's brought tears to my eyes. Utterly heartbreaking.

    Thanks for sharing and ensuring our thoughts are with them and their families at such a time of year when we can get caught up in our own worlds and it's, in comparison, trivialities.

    RIP those brave, brave men and unfortunate passengers and crew.


  7. Thank you so much for this timely reminder, I remember the tragedy.

    Our family has lifeboat connections – and I have such respect for these men.

    God bless and keep them safe.


  8. I remember it well too. The bravery of those men, and all those who continue to risk their lives in the Lifeboat Service, is beyond belief.
    We must all do what we can to support their work, especially as they are now finding it increasingly difficult to finance the service.


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