On this day in 1959 – Moelfre Coxswain Richard Evans won his first Gold Medal -
On October 27th 1959, a strong south-westerly gale was blowing in Moelfre Bay, where the 500-ton coaster Hindlea lay at anchor. At 11 am the wind dropped, before veering to the north and increasing rapidly to hurricane force, with gusts of 100 mph.
Hindlea, a light ship with small engines, was now in great danger, caught on a lee shore with her anchors being dragged towards the rocky coast. By this time, Coxswain Evans and his mechanic were at the boathouse, but unable to muster a full crew as the storm had damaged telephone lines. Only two other regular crew members were available, and Evans was forced to recruit a shore crew member who had never been to sea in a lifeboat before.
At midday, Evans launched the reserve lifeboat Edmund and Mary Robinson down the slipway and headed around Moelfre Island into the teeth of the hurricane. They found Hindlea riding to her starboard anchor which was dragging. The cable was being whipped out of the water as she pitched on the waves, which made an approach from seaward dangerous. She was swinging 90 degrees side to side, her engines racing. For an hour and a half, Evans waited as the huge seas battered Hindlea, able to do nothing until her master gave the order to abandon ship. When finally, that order was given, Hindlea was in the breakers only 200 yards from the rocks.
Evans manoeuvred the lifeboat around the stern of Hindlea, uncomfortably close to the churning propellers, which were at times above the heads of the crew as Hindlea rose on the waves. As the lifeboat approached the ship's port side, a wave heeled her over, putting her mast underwater for a time.
Approaching Hindlea's port quarter, another huge wave lifted the lifeboat almost on to the coaster's deck, before dragging her back into the sea. Evans took the lifeboat astern and clear, then ran in again, getting alongside and holding her there long enough for one of the crew to jump into the arms of his lifeboatmen.
Evans carried out this perilous manoeuvre 10 times, until shortly after 2 pm when all eight men on Hindlea had been saved, the only injury being a broken leg. Hindlea struck the rocks 35 minutes later and was lost.
For his bravery, Evans was awarded the RNLI Gold Medal, his mechanic E Owens received the silver medal, and the other three crew members the bronze medal. Mr D Francis, Mr H Owen and Mr H Jones.
*Information gained from The Telegraph and RNLI website*
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.