RNLI - Barmouth Lifeboat Station

Historical News


SHIPWRECK IN CARDIGAN BAY       Barmouth Advertiser 1 Sept 1924       

Barmouth lifeboat success after eight hours.   French Crew landed at Barmouth

On Sunday, about 1 pm Mr Rees Jones, Bryn Peris, local Hon secretary of the National Lifeboat Institution received a message from Captain William Griffith, Meirion House, Dyffryn, that a vessel was in distress on St Patrick’s Causeway – the vessel flying a distress flag on her mast.  Although the report was received when the majority of the crew were at dinner and wearing their Sunday best, it is very creditable to think that, within a space of just a little over ten minutes from the time when the rocket summoning the crew was fired, the boat was launched and on its way on its errand of mercy.

Hundreds of visitors and residents assembled at various points of vantage, to watch the ill-fated vessel bearing the full brunt of the heavy seas that swept its deck.  And much was the talk of those capable of passing an opinion of the very creditable seamanship displayed by Coxswain Griffith Jones, Fron House, in reaching the vessel, although the prevailing wind was unfavourable and the condition of the Causeway dangerous. After about three hours cruise, the lifeboat reached the vessel, which was in a perilous position on the Causeway.  The extent of the risk may be gauged from the fact that the ship’s boat, which was in use, sank in the tempestuous sea.  As soon as the ship had been boarded, the flag of distress was hauled down.  It is worthy of note that certain members of the lifeboat crew took the risk of boarding the vessel to investigate and to arrange for the safe passing of the crew into the lifeboat.

The ship was for some hours on dry land on the Causeway, the lifeboat being in close proximity the whole time, waiting the incoming tide to see whether the ship would refloat from the Causeway.  Mountainous waves were washing over the vessel.  After remaining from 4 to 7.30pm, and, realising that the vessel had been so damaged that no hope could be entertained of preventing her from sinking once she got into deep waters, the captain and crew of the vessel decided to abandon her, as it was almost in a sinking condition.  The sea was very rough, a strong wind blowing from the west.  The crew were then taken on board the lifeboat.  The captain of the vessel displayed the usual courage of every seaman by absolutely refusing to leave until he had satisfied himself beyond all doubt that the vessel was unable to sail again, the cabin at the time being waist deep in water.
About 7.30pm the lifeboat set sail home, and reached Barmouth Quay shortly after 9 pm, and when it became known that the crew of four were on board, hundreds of spectators who had gathered on the Quay loudly cheered the lifeboat crew on the success of their mission.  On coming ashore it was found that the crew were four French sailors, including a boy of 16 years, of the ketch Notre Dame of Boulogne, which vessel had left Portmadoc harbour at 10 am on Sunday morning bound for Poole with seventy tons of slate.
The shipwrecked crew were taken care of by Mr RW Jones, Meirion House (the local representative of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society) and accommodation was immediately given by Mrs Caradoc Evans, Minafon.  The crew were able to bring their belongings from the vessel, also the ship’s books. 

As the crew could not speak but very little English, an interpreter had to be engaged. Captain JJ Griffith, Epworth Terrace, (Lloyd’s representative) and Mr Rees Jones, Hon local secretary of the National Lifeboat Institution, also rendered assistance to the ill-fated crew.

On Monday morning the vessel was reported to be drifting from the Causeway and later sank in deep waters, only the mast being visible about a mile from shore under Dyffryn on Sea Station.  The crew, accompanied by other officials, visited the foreshore at Dyffryn to witness the position of the vessel.  The following were the members of the Lifeboat Crew:
Coxswain Griffith Jones, Fron House; second coxswain Robert Jones, 11 Porkington Terrace; bowman William Jones, Tanycoed; John Jones, Edward Lloyd Jones, Harry Jones, Bronygraig; John Ellis Morris, Abermaw Terrace; John Richards, Red House; John Jones, Goronwy Terrace; Owen T Morris, Walsall House; Thomas Owen, Tanygraig; John Hugh Rees, Penrhyn View; Evan Richards, Penlan Cottage; Robert Jones, Minafon; William B Jones, Bronaber Terrace, and Thomas Lewis, Penybryn.

Departure of Shipwrecked Mariners
The shipwrecked mariners of the French vessel ‘Notre Dame de Boulogne’ who were rescued on Sunday by the prompt action of the Barmouth Lifeboat from their perilous position of St Patrick’s Causeway, left Barmouth on Tuesday for France, via Paddington.  They received quite an ovation on their departure, and the captain of the vessel was visibly affected by his mingled feeling of regret and pleasure as he endeavoured to express his gratitude to all who had helped them through their trying experience. According to the opinion of practical seamen, the men undoubtedly owe their lives to the able manner in which the lifeboat, under the command of Griffith Jones, coxswain, with his gallant crew, was so ably manoeuvred.

The shipwrecked crew greatly appreciated the kindness shown by Mr RW Jones, Meirion House, local agent of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society, who provided them will all that was necessary for their comfort, and arranged for their transport back to France.  They were housed and cared for by Mr and Mrs Caradoc Evans, Minafon, during their stay.
The captain especially wished to tender his heartfelt thanks to Mr Meurig O Griffith, Epworth Terrace, who acted as interpreter until the arrival of Monsieur RLF Robert, MSc, Tech, FCS, a Belgian gentleman at present staying with Mrs Owen Aelydon, who accompanied Captain JJ Griffith (Lloyd’s agent) to Portmadoc, and willingly gave his services as interpreter to assist the French Captain to make his deposition.  He also showed his sympathy in a practical manner to these destitute men.

This performance of the Barmouth Lifeboat adds further laurels to its long and unique record, and goes to prove that no more worthy object could be found for our support than the Lifeboat Institution.