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The Penlee Tragedy


Frank E Gibbard
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Frank E Gibbard

At Penlee lifeboat station as a threatening gigantic swell

Cascaded over the jetty, the coxswain could inwardly foretell

There'd be sailors in peril today, when rang the warning bell.

“Alert your crew!” the telephone said to ominous din of thunder

“The Union Star is on the rocks and looks like going under!”

He summoned the men whose job it was to bend their wills to save her,

Those brave few souls at his command who are never known to waver;

From nearby town and all around they responded to the call,

Their personal concerns at once laid down for duty one and all.

Some arising took leave of wives or abandoned a morning kipper,

No matter the unsocial hour when summoned by your skipper.

They assembled at the Solomon Browne each garbed in a sou'wester,

Intimidated by the darkening storm they knew this would be a tester.

With resolute hearts they launched their boat upon their worthy mission,

To save some strangers come what may in the finest old RNLI tradition.

Some shouts were less daunting than others but this one shouted: “bad!”

But eight brave hearted gentlemen could not foresee an outcome so sad.

The Solomon Browne of some renown had sailed to her final call-out,

The entire complement of those on board would suffer the tragic fall-out;

No more to run those cobbled lanes like RAF spitfire pilots on a scramble,

They drew short straws from Nature's claws and lost their noble gamble.

With all their skill at saving lives they could not tragically, at the end, their own,

As the rescued company clambered aboard all their chances had been blown.

Penlee's craft was to founder on the rocks and vanish in typhoon-like weather,

But is still revered to this very day, for those brave lifeboat men's endeavour.

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Jolly good, Frank! You kept very well to the couplets except for that anomaly of a three-liner at the beginning. I presume this is a true story?

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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  • 1 month later...

As I get softer and less likely to go out on a limb myself with age, I'm more impressed with stories like these. They were heroes.

 

Tony

 

PS -- I like the the three line anomaly Brendan pointed out.

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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