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Fire Serviceman saves men from drowning in rough sea

Year 1945

Read by Laura Mahoney – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Brown, Cyril G.L.

The Stanhope Gold Medal 1945

At Chesil Beach, Wyke Regis, Portland. On the 13th October, 1944, at 4.23 p.m. information was received at the Coastguard Station that H.M. Landing Craft 2454 was close inshore in a rough sea. Naval Authorities informed said they would send a tug, which they did. The tug, unable to reach the Landing Craft, was recalled. The Coastguards arrived off- shore and signalling the vessel which was riding comfortably on a long stay of wire replied that they were all right. At 6.40 p.m. the stay parted and the vessel drove ashore rapidly. Striking the beach, a tremendous sea struck her, taking ten of the crew and washing everything moveable overboard. Stoker James Botton and Leading Motor Mechanic Ernest W. Shirley were then seen huddled together helpless to the lee side of the wheelhouse with seas continually breaking over them. Several lines were fired by rocket until one passed over the vessel held seaward by the spent rocket shell and became foul of the vessel.

Captain John A. Pennington Legh, D.S.C., R.N., with Coastguard Robert H. Treadwell and another seized the shore-end of the line and made their way down to the wreck now lying diagonally to the shore. During a lull the line was cleared and moved aft towards the two men.

Cyril G.L. Brown then appeared wearing a lifebelt and line and managed to board the vessel just forward and below the two helpless men. A tremendous sea then struck the vessel and Legh and Treadwell were washed away and drowned. The back of the vessel was broken. Brown, knocked down and pounded by the terrific seas, succeeded with superhuman efforts in hauling off enough line to pass to each of the survivors, working in all about 40 minutes. Brown then jumped, being hauled to safety and removed to hospital, followed by Botton, who was also hauled to shore. The line of the second survivor then parted leaving him still on the vessel. Albert Oldfield then seizing a chance dashed out from the beach with a line round him and with great determination succeeded in placing a line in the hands of Shirley, who was then hauled ashore in an exhausted state.

Weather – Wind S.W. 6-8 o.m.r.q. Visibility half a mile.
Sea – Heavy swell. Seas 30 ft. high.
Rescue – Off sloping beach.

The Stanhope Gold Medal 1945 and Silver Medal 1944 was awarded to Cyril G.L. Brown, the Bronze Medal to Albert Oldfield, and In Memoriam Testimonials to the relatives of Captain John A. Pennington Legh and Coastguardsman Robert H. Treadwell, H.M. Coastguard.

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