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Lifeboat Memorial - St. Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales

1910  and  1956

Lifeboat The Gem 1910 In memory of

Coxswain John Stephens
Lifeboatman Henry Rowlands
Lifeboatman James Price

Who died on the St. Davids lifeboat "The Gem"
13th October 1910.

In darkness and gale force winds, the 12 oared lifeboat "The Gem" was launched to assist the ketch "Democrat" which was dragging its anchor near the Bitches Reef in Ramsey Sound. Having successfully rescued the 3 man crew. The lifeboat was unable to row clear of the reef and was swept ashore and wrecked with the loss of the coxswain and two crew members. The 15 survivors spent 14 hours on wave lashed rocks until they were rescued by two shore boats from St. Davids.


The "BBC News" on 09 October 2010:
St Davids RNLI seeks 1910 lifeboat tragedy descendants

Staff and volunteers at St Davids RNLI lifeboat station are trying to contact descendants of their 1910 crew.
It comes ahead of the 100th anniversary of the worst tragedy in the station's 141-year history.
On 13 October 1910, the Gem, went to rescue three crew stranded in terrible weather aboard Democrat, a ship delivering coal to Ramsey Island.
The rescue was a success, but the sail-assisted rowing boat was driven onto the rocks, and three on the Gem died.
Yet somewhat miraculously given the conditions, 12 lifeboatmen, and the three rescued sailors, survived, after clinging to rocks for over 12 hours.
They were eventually rescued when lifeboatman Will Thomas managed to dry out matches sufficiently enough to set fire to his oil skins, and attract the attention of boats in nearby Porthclais harbour.
In the aftermath of the disaster Sydney Mortimer, skipper of one of the Porthclais boats which rescued 10 of the survivors, received the RNLI's Silver Medal.
Two years later he became the youngest coxswain of the St David's lifeboat, aged 18.
The incident highlighted the vital role of the RNLI in Pembrokeshire, and when the Gem was replaced, it was with the first petrol motorboat in Wales, and one of only about a dozen then operated by the RNLI around Britain.
The experience also provided valuable lessons in how to improve the cork life jackets of the day, saving many more lives in years to come.
Coxswain of St Davids lifeboat, Dai John, explained how the disaster continues to resonate around the city to this day.
"Being a lifeboatmen runs in families. My own father and grandfather served here, and the same goes for many of the rest of our 26 volunteers and three staff.
"I think the last of the Gem's survivors died in the 60s, but many of our fathers knew them, and we know many of their children."
"We're desperate to try and spread the word about these men, because if their descendants don't know about them, they ought to.
"It can be scary enough putting out in bad weather, when you've got the latest boats and equipment. So the bravery of those men, who went out during gales and high seas, in little more than a wooden rowing boat, is truly astonishing."
They have managed to trace between 50 and 60 descendants of six of the men involved that night, spanning four generations.
But 12 will have no family members at Wednesday's anniversary events.
The day of remembrance will start at 0900 BST, when the current crew will drop a wreath where the Gem sank.
That will be followed by a memorial service at St David's Cathedral and the dedication of a plaque in the city's Memorial Gardens.
RNLI Cymru spokesman Jimmy Phillips said: "As well as the three men we lost aboard the Gem, we'll also be remembering Ieuan Bateman, who was washed overboard in 1956.
"The events which have been organised are primarily in honour of these men's extraordinary bravery, but it's also an opportunity to explain a little bit about what we do.
"In our 141 years, the St Davids lifeboat has deployed over 420 times, saving a minimum of 360 lives."

Lifeboat SWN Y MOR  1956 In memory of

Lifeboatman Ieuan Bateman

who was lost on service with
the St. Davids lifeboat "Swn y Mor"
8th November 1956.

In darkness and gale force winds, the "Swn y Mor" was launched to assist the French trawler "Notre Dame de Fatima" which was without power and sinking near Skokholm Island. Having rescued the eight man crew, the lifeboat was heading into Milford Haven when it was completely submerged by heavy seas during which timecrew member Ieuan Bateman . . . overboard.


Ieuan Bateman Ieuan Bateman
was 21 when he lost his life at sea.

The "BBC News" on 08 November 2006:
Lifeboat hero tribute 50 years on

Relatives of a lifeboatman who drowned while rescuing eight French fishermen will join an RNLI crew to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.
Wreaths will be laid off the west Wales coast near where Ieuan Bateman's body was recovered after the rescue in 1956.
The 21-year-old was on the St David's lifeboat Swn-y-Mor which saved eight trawlermen off Skokholm Island.
He was washed overboard on the way back to shore and given a posthumous award by the French government.
His close relatives, including his brothers John and Byron, will attend the service 50 years to the day that he died.
John Bateman said: "In those days you joined the lifeboat when you were 15 and then you made your way up on to the crew.
"I remember I was on my home from school when the maroons went off. It was really bad conditions."
The trawler - Notre Dame de Fatima - had sent a distress signal about 4.5 miles from Skokholm.
The lifeboat crew were able to remove all of its crew.
"When my father came home we went down to the station and stayed there until we were told the lifeboat had taken off eight survivors and was headed back to Milford."
The family returned to their farmhouse believing his brother was safe and went to bed.

"It was unusual for car lights to come down to our little cottage in the early hours of the morning but it was the police and the head launcher to tell us that my brother was missing," he added.
His body was recovered two days later at West Dale Bay.
France posthumously awarded Ieuan Bateman its lifesaving silver medal and he was also recognised by the French Lifeboat Society.
Despite the tragedy his three younger brothers were not put off joining the lifeboat crew at St David's and have completed more than 100 years of service between them.
John Bateman said Wednesday would be an emotional day for his family.
"In St David's we are never short of crew - it's saving lives and doing something for the community."

Remark: RNLI = Royal National Lifeboat Institution

Lifeboat The Gem Ieuan Bateman
Lifeboat "The Gem"
1885 - 1910
Lifeboat "Swn-y-Mor"
1936 - 1963


This page is dedicated to all the women and men who risk their life to safe the life of others.




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