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We Remember the Maritime Tragedy at Sker Point Seventy Years Ago

Lifeboats News Release

A service was held at All Saints Church, Porthcawl and at the memorial plaque in the rocks at Sker Point over the weekend in memory of those lost at Sker seventy years ago.

Flags drape the rocks next to the memorial plaque

RNLI/Ian Stroud

Wreaths placed RNLI and Merchant Navy flags

Porthcawl’s combined rescue services made up of Porthcawl Unit of UK Coastguard Agency, Porthcawl RNLI and Porthcawl Fire Service, together with members of Porthcawl Museum and the public remembered the tragedy of the liberty ship ‘SS Samtampa’ and the RNLI’s The Mumbles lifeboat ‘Edward, Prince of Wales’. Crews of both vessels, forty seven in total, perished in a raging storm that swept up the Bristol Channel on 23rd April 1947.

Spokesperson for Porthcawl RNLI, Ian Stroud said, ‘Both services were well attended showing even though it was seventy years ago our town will not forget the tragedy that befell the crew of the Samtampa and the dedication of The Mumbles lifeboat crew who in a brave effort to come to the rescue of the stricken vessel, all lost their lives too. As the tragedy was taking place Porthcawl Coastguards lost their battle to effect a rescue of the crew of the Samtampa when all attempts to fire lines onto the stricken vessel failed because of the severe gale that day. By contrast it is almost impossible for us to imagine the conditions during that storm seventy years ago especially standing at Sker on Sunday when the sun shone, there was hardly any wind and the sea was flat calm.

During the service at Sker Point, those on shore watched as The Mumbles current lifeboat led other lifeboats from Porthcawl and Port Talbot together with a privately own Watson class lifeboat and a flotilla of small boats to the area. As they stood off the rocky shore wreaths were laid on the water by each lifeboat crew in memory of fellow sailors and lifeboat men who lost their lives seventy years ago’.

The service was followed by a short dedication to a memorial that has been laid at the Prince of Wales, Kenfig by landlord Gareth Maund, in memory of the Samtampa tragedy.

Current crew on board as wreaths are laid on the sea at Sker Point, Porthcawl

RNLI/Ian Stroud

The Mumbles lifeboat
Plaque in memory of the crews of the Samtampa and The Mumbles lifeboat set in the rocks at the location of the tragedy.

RNLI/Ian Stroud

The Memorial Plaque
Crew stand in memory as they lay wreaths at Sker Point.

RNLI/Ian Stroud

Porthcawl and Port Talbot lifeboats and crews

Key facts about the RNLI

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.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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