Ramsgate Lifeboat
Our thanks go to Barry Cox and the RNLI, for allowing us to use these service accounts from the book "Lifeboat Gallantry".

Name Index




Service Reports

MILLER William, Boatman

7 September 1826: The Eliza and Jane was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands in heavy weather. Mr. Miller, with a crew of 12, launched his boat from Ramsgate beach at 6 a.m., reached the Sands and then hoisted out a small boat. In three trips the Master, his wife and five crew were rescued - they had been lashed to the rigging for four hours, the vessel being completely under water. On the first trip, the Master's wife and the clothes belonging to the crew were transferred. All were landed safely at Ramsgate at 1.30 p.m.

GIMAR Edward, Captain, French Brig Le Norman

18-21 December 1828: En route from Bourbon to Havre, off Cap d' Antifer, Département Seine Maritime, France, the brig Le Norman came across the brig Auguste which had been dismasted 12 days before some 350 miles out into the Atlantic, while on passage from Cherbourg to Sète in the Mediterranean. The vessel was driving fast on shore, and two men had already been washed overboard. Captain Gimar decided to get a line on board and tow her off. He succeeded but, in a heavy gale during the night of the 19th, lost two topsails and was injured himself. As his crew were worn out, he lay to all night and resolved to try to gain refuge in Dieppe. The morning of the 20th brought high seas and a gale at tide time, so that no Pilot would put out which forced them to lay off all night and make sail to prevent being driven ashore. The following morning found them off Dungeness, where a Pilot was taken aboard and the casualty towed to safety to Ramsgate harbour. Captain Gimar declined to claim salvage or any other reward. The French Consul (a Briton) applied to the 'Royal Institute for Preserving Lives from Shipwreck' for its medal to be awarded as an expression of international appreciation of the fact that he had saved six lives as well as the vessel.

HOGBIN James, Coxswain

26-27 November 1857: In a hard north-east gale, the Lisbon brig Caminha drove on to the Goodwin Sands, off the east Kent coast. The Ramsgate Harbour Trustee Beeching lifeboat Northumberland launched at 9 p.m. Under tow by the steam tug Aid, she went to the scene and, driving over the shoals through heavy surf, found the small Broadstairs lifeboat alongside with her crew on board the brig. As the brig's crew refused to leave, Coxswain Hogbin and his men remained alongside until the brig filled and began to break up, which damaged and disabled the small lifeboat. With their combined crews of 30 men and with the damaged lifeboat in tow, the Northumberland set sail across the shoals, striking heavily in the broken water. The two boats came into contact, which totally destroyed the damaged vessel, but the Northumberland reached Ramsgate harbour safely. The medal was awarded, also, in consideration of many previous rescues, mostly at night from the

JARMAN Isaac, Coxswain

3-4 December 1863: On the evening of the 3rd during dreadful weather, rocket signals were seen coming from the Tongue Lightship, which indicated a ship in distress. The Ramsgate steam tug Aid set out at 8.45 p.m. with the Beeching class lifeboat Northumberland in tow. In mountainous seas and with a near hurricane raging, they reached the London to Melbourne emigrant ship Fusilier fast in the sand on the Girdler Bank some miles north of Herne Bay, Kent. Going alongside at 2 a.m., the lifeboat took off, one by one, 25 women and children and transferred them to the tug waiting nearly a mile away in Princes Channel. Returning to the casualty, the Coxswain repeated the operation three times during which, with huge seas sweeping over both vessels, 40 women and children and 36 men were transferred by 6 am. The Captain and crew remained on board in anticipation of refloating the ship at the next high tide. The tug left at daylight to land the survivors, but the lifeboat, which it must be remembered was an open one, continued to stand by, then, an hour and half later, saw the tug Aid returning. Sailing toward her, the Coxswain was informed that another casualty had been seen aground on the Shingles Bank, ten miles north of Margate. The Greenock ship Demerara was found on her beam ends with a shattered hull, and had her crew clinging to the rigging. Running across the broken waters on the sands, the lifeboat got alongside the wreck, took off the crew of 18 (including an 11-year-old boy) and the Pilot and put them aboard the tug. All reached Ramsgate safely. The lifeboat had been out for over 16 hours.

JARMAN Isaac, Coxswain

FISH Charles Edward, Bowman

For long service and in acknowledgement of Coxswain Jarman's and Bowman Fish's continued gallant services in the Ramsgate lifeboat. Outstanding services in this period included those to the brig Zeeploeg and the barque Norma (1865), the schooner Zephyr (1866), the schooner Mizpah, the barque Aurora Borealis and the brigantine Amor (1867), the brig Britain's Pride (1868) and the schooner Chafton Winkel, the brig Carl, the barque Highland Chief and the barque Emilie (1869).

READING Daniel, Master, Ramsgate Harbour Steam Tug Vulcan

19 March 1872: The Ramsgate lifeboat Bradford, the steam tug Vulcan and the Broadstairs lifeboat Samuel Morrison Collins went out in a fresh north-north-east gale and a heavy sea and saved the crew of eight of the brig Defènder of Sunderland which had gone on the Goodwin Sands. Reading was awarded the silver medal for this service and for his general gallant services in assisting to save lives from wrecks on the Goodwin Sands'.

SIMPSON James, Mate, Steam Tug Aid

WHARRIER William, Engineer, Steam Tug Aid

'In acknowledgement of their gallant services extending over twenty years on occasions when the Ramsgate life-boats had been towed by that steamer to vessels in distress and have saved nearly five hundred lives from shipwreck on the Goodwin Sands'. Among the services which involved the tug Aid were those to the barque Norma (1865), the barque Aurora Borealis (1867), the ship Highland Chief and the barque Emilie (1869), the brig Volunteer (1870), the barque India (1871) and the barques Ystroom and Amazon (1873).

FISH Charles Edward, Coxswain

GOLDSMITH Richard, Second Coxswain

BELSEY Henry, Crew Member

BERRY David, Crew Member

COOPER Thomas (Senior), Crew Member

COOPER Thomas (Junior), Crew Member

FRIEND Thomas, Crew Member

GOLDSMITH John, Crew Member

GOLDSMITH Stephen, Crew Member

MEADER Henry, Crew Member

PENNEY Robert, Crew Member

VERION Charles, Crew Member

PAGE Alfred, Master, Steam Tug Vulcan

WHARRIER William, Engineer, Steam Tug Vulcan

AUSTEN William, Crew Member, Steam Tug Vulcan

KNIGHT Charles, Crew Member, Steam Tug Vulcan

REVELL Edward, Crew Member, Steam Tug Vulcan

WOODWARD George, Stoker, Steam Tug Vulcan

YARE Richard, Stoker, Steam Tug Vulcan

6 January 1881: At 2 am. on the 5th in tense darkness, an easterly gale, frequent snow squalls and below freezing temperatures, the 1,238 ton barque Indian Chief four days out from Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, and bound for Yokohama, Japan, grounded hard on Long Sand at the mouth of the Thames, off Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. During the day, apparently, she broke her back, lost her boats, and two men were drowned. She suffered further damage in a heavy sea at 5 p.m. The survivors took to the rigging but, by 3 a.m. on the 6th, only 12 remained after the mizzen mast fell. Following unsuccessful searches by the Harwich and Clacton lifeboats, the steam tug Vulcan arrived on the scene towing the Ramsgate lifeboat Bradford. Casting off, Charles Fish headed the lifeboat towards the wreck, then veered a piece of wood down on a number of ropes' ends, tied together. This enabled a hawser to be dragged aboard the wreck by which means the lifeboat's crew hauled their craft under the wreck's quarter. The lifeboat took off the 12 survivors, transferred them to the steam tug, which took the lifeboat in tow again and returned it to Ramsgate through heavy broken water, after 26 hours at sea.

Full graphic accounts of this service appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 11th and 18th January, and were reprinted in the Lifeboat Journal of 1st February. On February 11th, H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, a member of the R.N.L.I.'s Committee of Management, presented all the medals at a ceremony at the Ramsgate Coastguard Station.

WHARRIER William, Engineer, Ramsgate Steam Tugs

Awarded to William Wharrier on his retirement 'who had held the position 44 years and during that period had been in charge of the engines on all occasions when the tugs had been out with the lifeboat'.

FISH Charles Edward, Coxswain

A service award 'on his retirement through ill-health, from the post of Coxswain … He had been out in the lifeboats belonging to that station three hundred and fifty-three times during the past twenty-six years and had thus helped to save eight hundred and seventy-seven lives from different shipwrecks'. This was the first gold clasp to be awarded. Appointed Second Coxswain in 1866 and Coxswain in 1870 his previous gold medal was awarded for the Indian Chief service in 1881 and, in the subsequent period, major services included those to the ships Attila and Ganges (1881), the barque Egmont (1882). the barque Georgia, the ship Wilhemina and s.s. Boadicea (1883), s.s. Skandinavian (1884), the barque Rhuddlan Castle (1885) and the barque Frederike Carolina (1886).

PAGE Alfred, Master, Ramsgate Harbour Steam Tugs

Awarded to Captain Page, 'who has been Master … since the 1st of April 1874 and has towed the Ramsgate lifeboat on every occasion of service since then'. Among his many services, were those to the barque Bucephalus (1875), the barque Atlantic (1876), the ships Indian Chief and Ganges (1881), the barque Egmont (1882), the barque Georgia and s.s. Boadicea (1883), the barque Rhuddlan Castle (1885), the barque Frederike Caroline (1886) and the fishing lugger Verbena (1889).

WATSON Thomas James, Captain, Smack Britain's Pride

BURTON William, Crew Member, Smack Britain's Pride

HURLE Edwin, Crew Member, Smack Britain's Pride

FISHER Arthur Edward, Crew Member, Smack Britain's Pride

12 December 1891: In a very heavy sea during a strong northerly gale, the Glasgow ship Enterkin was wrecked on Galloper Sands, off Harwich, Essex. Captain Watson and his crew were able to save an apprentice from the wreck.
Awarded 'on his retirement in consideration of his long and gallant services in towing the Ramsgate lifeboats'. During he period since the award of his last medal in 1892, services were given to the barque Telegraph (1892), the schooner Sarah Elizabeth (1893), the smacks Blue Bell and Daisy, the steamer Almendral and the brig Hondeklip (1894), s.s. Beacon Light and s.s. Lady Wolseley (1895) and the ship Kommander Svend Foyn and the smack Ismene (1898).
14 September 1906: An open boat capsized off the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour in a strong west-south-west breeze and rough sea. Of the five persons on board, only the boatman could swim. Seeing this, John Hawkins lowered himself by a rope from the East Pier and swam out. One lady and a gentleman were clinging to the boat but the other two and the boatman were more or less under water. Hawkins got hold of the lady, swam with her into shallow water and dragged her unconscious on to a sand bank where 'he used the usual method of restoring the apparently drowned', with success. The other members of the party were picked up by two watchmen who had put out in a boat.
20-21 November 1916: Signals were seen at 7 a.m. from the New York s.s. Sibiria which had driven aground on the Goodwins in exceptionally bad weather. The North Deal Reserve lifeboat was launched and towed out to the wreck but, although she made four attempts, nearly capsizing on the first three and finishing on her beam ends on the fourth, she was unsuccessful. Her mizzen mast and sail were torn out of her and a thwart carried away, so she was forced to return to Deal. Meanwhile, the Ramsgate self-righting lifeboat Charles and Susanna Stephens was being towed out by the tug Aid and reached the scene at 11.30 a.m. She veered down across the Sands several times, constantly filling with water until one of her bollards was wrenched out, injuring two of her crew. With her cable parted, the lifeboat was compelled to return to Ramsgate which she reached at 4.30 p.m. Later, she received an urgent message to say that, with the crew still aboard, the Sibiria's decks were almost under water. She set out again at 7.15 p.m. but found that the Kingsdowne lifeboat had fought her way through and had just taken off the last of the 52 man crew. They were landed at Kingsdowne at 12.45 a.m. on the 21st.

KIRKALDIE Douglas Stephen, Coxswain

20-21 August 1952: The New York s.s. Western Farmer, Norfolk, Virginia, to Bremen with coal, collided with the Norwegian tanker Bjorgholm 18 miles east-south-east of Ramsgate, Kent. Both the Dover lifeboat Southern Africa and the Ramsgate lifeboat Prudential launched, the former diverted to Walmer to pick up a doctor. When the Prudential arrived the steamer was anchored one and a half miles north of Sandettie Bank buoy and had started to break up. Coxswain Kirkaldie took off seven of the crew, an operation made much more difficult by leaking diesel oil. The ship's Master ordered all of his crew into the two ship's lifeboats which got clear just before the wreck broke into two. The Ramsgate lifeboat took on board men from one boat and a man who had jumped into the sea. The Dover lifeboat took the 13 men from the second boat, but five men still remained on the wreck's stern part which was partly awash and drifting. Coxswain Kirkaldie went alongside, took them off and landed them at Ramsgate at 3.16 a.m.
27 November 1954: Gales of exceptional force had been blowing for several days off the East Kent coast and, early in the morning, it was noticed that the South Goodwin light vessel had disappeared. Lifeboats at Ramsgate. Dover and Walmer were warned and, during the night, the first two launched and carried out searches of the Goodwins without success. At daylight, the vessel was located on her beam ends, lying on her side where she had drifted. The Walmer lifeboat launched. The combined efforts of all three boats could not detect any survivors, therefore a call was made to 66th Air Rescue Squadron. U.S.A.F., which provided a helicopter from its base at Manston, Kent, near Ramsgate. A second sortie at 9 a.m. by Captain Parkins noticed a solitary figure - a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries bird watcher - clinging to the light vessel's superstructure. Ignoring the normal rules, the helicopter was brought down to 30 feet and, in spite of the wreckage and spray, the lone survivor was plucked from his refuge and landed safely at Manston.

This was the first R.N.L.I. medal to be awarded to any pilot of any aircraft and also the first service given by a helicopter when lifeboats, although present, were unable to render the necessary help.
26 December 1985: In rapidly deteriorating weather, the French trawler Gloire à Marie II went aground in a storm, south of Ramsgate. Kent. The Waveney class lifeboat Ralph and Joy Swann left her moorings at 8.15 p.m. after she first experienced great difficulty getting her crew on board from the pier. Despite hazardous conditions in the shallows, Coxswain Cannon manoeuvred the lifeboat close to the trawler, and two lifeboat crewmen boarded her. A tow was passed and the casualty brought off. The tow was then dismantled and the trawler, with her seven man crew, escorted into Ramsgate harbour under her own power.

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© Ray Noble
9 November 1999: HMCG were advised by Falmouth Coastguard of an Inmarsat alert from a vessel «RASMUS», giving a position on the north of the Goodwin sands. At the same time, reports of red flares were received, and launch of both lifeboats was requested. The weather conditions were Force 7 with a very rough sea. On arrival on scene, Lifeboats found the 18.9 metre yacht «RASMUS» aground on the North Sand Head, being driven on by the strong northerly winds. The yacht was pounding on the ground as it was driven over shallow patches, and it’s mast had broken, partially lying across the deck and part in the water, along with all it’s rigging. The lifeboats approached, with the ILB sounding in, and once alongside an ILB crew member boarded the yacht. It was found that, having fired their flares, the three yacht crew had taken shelter in the cabin and were trapped there when the wreckage of the mast fell across the cabin hatchway, making it impossible for them to open the hatch. A crewman from the AWB was now put on the yacht and the wreckage was shifted from the hatch and the three survivors extricated with some difficulty. At this stage, it was apparent that the three survivors were suffering minor cuts and bruises, aggravated by hypothermia and shock. Furthermore, the lifeboats were still in amongst the sands in the prevailing heavy seas and northerly swell and in danger of grounding or damage. The Cox’n therefore decided to take the survivors off the yacht, and took the AWB stern on to the casualty, clear of overside wreckage, and held her in position whilst the survivors were passed over, and the two lifeboat crew recovered. The Lifeboats then made full speed for Ramsgate and landed the three survivors to ambulance at Ramsgate Harbour.

Foreign Awards

On 31 January 1911 the Ramsgate lifeboat rescued the crew of seven of the schooner Danmark of Svendberg. The King of Denmark awarded a Silver Medal to Coxswain W Cooper and the Master of the Tug Aid. On 16 January 1912 the Ramsgate and North Deal lifeboats rescued the crew of 20 of the ss Marie Leonhardt of Hamburg. The German Government addressed thanks to the lifeboat crew.

On 31 January 1919 the Ramsgate lifeboat rescued 23 of the crew of the ss Piave of New Jersey. The President of the United States of America awarded a gold watch to the Coxswain, binoculars to the Second Coxswain and Gold Medals to the lifeboat crew. Similar awards were granted to the crew of the Ramsgate Tug Aid and the crew of the North Deal lifeboat which rescued 30 from the Piave.
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