1917 Bronze Medal presented to Eyemouth lifeboat station
The Norwegian schooner, ‘Livlig’, set sail from Norway, bound for the east coast of England when it was caught in severe south-easterly gale on Tuesday 6 March, 1917.
The Eyemouth lifeboat, Anne Francis, a pulling and sailing lifeboat, under the command of coxswain William Miller, was launched into the teeth of the gale and breaking seas. It took the crew over an hour to get alongside the Livlig as they struggled against the terrible conditions. When the lifeboat reached the Livlig, the vessel was on its beam end but righted as the lifeboat approached, its crew in a desperate state, still clinging to the rigging, exhausted.
With great skill and courage, the lifeboat crew established a breeches buoy between both boats and with that, they saved all seven crew from the Livlig.
Coxswain Miller then faced a difficult decision. The prevailing conditions would have meant risking further peril trying to enter Eyemouth so Miller decided to head north and towards the Firth of Forth. Heavy seas repeatedly swept clean over the lifeboat and everyone on board suffered greatly from exposure on their passage. But, the crew, numbed by the cold, kept going, and by 9.30pm arrived in Granton. Both the shipwrecked men and lifeboat crew were met and taken to the Sailors' Home in Leith for rest and medical care.
The lifeboat crew returned to Eyemouth by train the following day, and when the weather moderated, returned to Granton and sailed the Anne Francis home.
The body of a seaman wearing oilskins and lifebelt bearing the name of the Livlig was found on the beach at Seacliffe, near Dunbar, the day after the rescue. The body was that of the crewman who had been swept overboard.
For his truly outstanding seamanship and leadership, the RNLI awarded William Miller a Bronze medal. His crew, George Lowrie, Alex Rae, Andrew Craig, William Johnstone, Robert Crombie, A Dougal, J Burgon, Robert Lough, James Dickson, John Gillie and D Young were all given monetary awards for the essential part they played in the long and very demanding service.
The Bronze medal awarded to William Miller has now been passed into the care of Eyemouth lifeboat station by his great great grandson John Miller. Never has the saying ‘Boats were made of wood and men were made of steel’ been more apt than in the case of this rescue.
Eyemouth lifeboat station and its crew are honoured to be the custodians of William Miller's Bronze Medal and all it stands for.
1. 1917 Eyemouth lifeboat, Anne Francis
2. RNLI Bronze medal awarded to coxswain, William Miller
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The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
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