Scarborough RNLI to host annual service of remembrance to mark one of worst disasters in town’s history
Picture by Neil Silk
Three crew died when the ECJR lifeboat overturned in the South Bay in a terrible storm on December 8, 1954.
In atrocious conditions, with enormous waves and a howling gale, the lifeboat had been at sea all afternoon, escorting fishing boats back to the harbour.
As the lifeboat approached the harbour for the eighth time that fateful day, when it was only about 200 yards away from safety, a gigantic wave smashed over the boat.
The coxswain, who saw it coming, shouted for the engines to be put into neutral and for everyone to “hang on!”
Almost completely submerged by the wave, the boat was driven forward for about 30 yards by a solid wall of water.
The boat sheered to port. The next wave struck the boat on the port quarter and the ECJR capsized.
The deaths of coxswain Jack Sheader, second coxswain John Cammish and signalman Francis Bayes devastated their families.
The ECJR received only superficial damage and within 48 hours, a new crew had been formed, including all five survivors – Ernie Eves, Bob Crawford, Mickey Scales, Jitta Sheader and Allan Rennard.
Every year since the tragedy, the anniversary has been commemorated by a church service remembering those three in particular but also other lifeboat crew who have perished at sea.
They include Frank Dalton, who died in an accident in tumultuous seas on December 9, 1951.
The service is due to begin at 6.30pm.
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