Welsh lifeboat disaster remembered

Wreaths are to be laid at sea today to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a Welsh lifeboat disaster

Coxswain John Stephens and two other lifeboatmen aboard the St David’s lifeboat Gem were lost when the boat was driven onto Bitches Reef in Ramsey Sound in a ferocious storm on 13 October 1910.

Twelve other lifeboatmen, as well as three crewmen they had rescued from the ketch Democrat were spotted clinging to the rocks the next morning. Despite continuing severe weather, they were rescued by boats from Porthclais, one of whose skippers was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal as a result.

“It can be scary enough putting out in bad weather when you’ve got the latest boats and equipment,” said St David’s lifeboat’s current coxswain, Dai John, “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.” Following the wreath-laying, a memorial service will be held at St David’s Cathedral, and a Gem plaque will be unveiled and dedicated at the Memorial Garden at the Cross Square, St David’s.