RNLI Fraserburgh remember 1919 Coxswain and Acting 2nd Coxswain
RNLI Fraserburgh coxswain and crew recently remembered coxswain Andrew Noble and acting 2nd coxswain Andrew Farquhar, who died while on service with the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Lady Rothes in April 1919, by laying a wreath at sea in their memory.
Andrew Noble was the longest serving coxswain in Fraserburgh Lifeboat’s history. He had been coxswain for over 30 years and had won numerous medals for bravery and saving lives at sea.
He knew well of the dangers of the sea. His father and four of his brothers had drowned in three separate incidents and his eldest son had been lost at sea during the recently ended First World War.
When the Admiralty trawler Eminent found itself in trouble in Fraserburgh bay on the morning of 28 April 1919, Andrew Noble, as he’d done for over three decades, answered the call along with Andrew Farquhar and the rest of the Fraserburgh lifeboat crew.
Gales were sweeping Britain and had caused widespread damage on land and sea but the Fraserburgh lifeboat crew didn’t hesitate when the alarm was raised.
The wind had rapidly increased during the morning and raised a tempestuous sea, the bay being a mass of foaming breakers.
The Eminent had an engine breakdown when nearing Fraserburgh and on entering the bay about 10 o'clock she blew her siren for assistance and the motor lifeboat Lady Rothes was immediately called out.
Coxswain Noble and acting 2nd coxswain Farquhar, along with local men Fred Hutcheson, Sandy Hutcheson, George Noble, George Duthie, James Noble, James Mitchell, Wm. R. Clark, Motor Mechanic; Thomas Drife, chief mechanic; James Mitchell and George Noble, left the harbour quickly aboard the Lady Rothes and headed into the bay.
On reaching the centre of the bay, the lifeboat got into very heavy water, and hundreds of watchers at the harbour were dismayed to see a freak wave strike the vessel and the lifeboat capsize.
The lifeboat quickly righted but around half of its crew of thirteen men were left struggling in the water. The lifeboat and men were swept helplessly onwards towards the sandy beach.
Local medical men and many citizens rendered assistance in reviving the lifeboatmen, a number of whom were badly cut and bruised. All were eventually brought round with the exception of the coxswain, Andrew Noble, and the assistant coxswain, Andrew Farquhar, who died where they lay.
Andrew Noble and Andrew Farquhar were the first two lifeboatmen of thirteen in total who died on service with Fraserburgh lifeboat in three separate disasters in the fifty-one years between 1919 and 1970.
On 9 February 1953, RNLB John and Charles Kennedy launched on service to escort fishing vessels into the safety of Fraserburgh Harbour. Whilst nearing the safety of the harbour she was overwhelmed by a large swell and capsized off the North pier. Six of her seven crew lost their lives. Coxswain Andrew N Ritchie, mechanic George Duthie, assistant mechanic James Noble, crew John Crawford, Charles Tait snr, John Buchan. The only survivor was Charles Tait jnr.
On 21 January 1970, the RNLB Duchess of Kent capsized while on service to the Danish fishing vessel Opal, with the loss of five of her six crew, coxswain John Stephen, mechanic Frederick Kirkness and crew members William Hadden, James RS Buchan and James Buchan. The only survivor was assistant mechanic John (Jackson) Buchan who was thrown clear when the lifeboat capsized and was saved by a Russian trawler.
Their names are commemorated on the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Memorial Statue and every year the current Fraserburgh RNLI coxswain, Vic Sutherland, and crew lay a wreath on the memorial on the anniversary of each disaster.
A few weeks later the wreath is lifted from the memorial and taken out on the current Fraserburgh lifeboat and laid at sea.
This was the third wreath Fraserburgh RNLI lifeboat has laid in recent months following the wreaths for the January anniversary of the 1970 disaster and the February anniversary of the 1953 disaster both being laid at sea.
On the evening of 25 May 2023, Vic lifted the wreath from the memorial and took it aboard Fraserburgh lifeboat Willie and May Gall and headed west with his volunteer crew for regular Thursday training.
After an intense training exercise in Pennan Bay, enhanced by the appearance of a pod of dolphins, Fraserburgh lifeboat headed home and stopped just after last light out at sea under the gaze of the twinkling lighthouse at Kinnaird Head.
The dark silhouette of the town of Fraserburgh loomed large in the background as Vic gathered his volunteer crew on deck.
Coxswain Sutherland says: 'As is the tradition after every lifeboat anniversary we always take the wreath to sea and lay it at sea in memory of the crew who have been lost.
'This wreath has been on the statue since the 28 April in memory of the coxswain Andrew Noble and 2nd coxswain Andrew Farquhar lost at sea on the 28 April 1919 aboard the Lady Rothes.
'So we’ll cast the wreath to sea, have a minute’s silence and have a wee prayer.'
All heads were bowed as coxswain Sutherland leant over the rails and laid the wreath at sea.
Following a minutes silence coxswain Sutherland then closed the service with the lifeboat prayer.
“No Greater Love Hath He Than This
That He Lay Down His Life for His Fellow Man
“Gone But Never Forgotten
Rest in Peace”.
Notes to editors
· Fraserburgh lifeboat station has been operating since 1858. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeboat-stations/fraserburgh-lifeboat-station
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