Sunday, November 21 2021 was cold and crisp, unlike the stormy day in 1928 when there was a torrential, squalling storm which ripped along the coast at Rye Harbour. The day the village lost seventeen of their menfolk is etched in the minds of all those who attended the service. It is the worst disaster that the RNLI has ever experienced.
The service in the village was well-attended and one of several poignant moments of the memorial is the lighting of candles by direct descendants of those who were lost. A member from each family comes to the altar and as their relative’s name is read out a candle is lit.
Coxswain Herbert Head aged 47
Second Coxswain Joseph Stonham. 43
Bowman Henry Cutting 39
Crew William Thomas Albert Clark 27
Leslie George Clark 24
Roberts Redvers Cutting 28
Albert Ernest Cutting 26
Arthur William Downey 25
Morriss James Downey 23
James Alfred Head 19
John Stanley Head 17
Walter Igglesden 38
Charles Frederick David Pope 28
Robert Henry Pope 23
Lewis Alexander Pope 21
Charles Southerden 22
Albert Ernest Smith 44
Another, which brings a tear to everyone’s eye, is the moving shanty written by Martin Bruce, and performed by Round Rye Bay singers. It has a plaintive chorus and the words of each verse tell the story as it unfolds. When Martin sang the verse on his own unaccompanied, there wasn’t another sound in the church.
Linda Estrada, lay reader for the parish, took the service and spoke movingly about our better understanding of the Mary Stanford disaster in the context of the current pandemic.
After the service, a two-minute silence followed, then the wreaths were laid on the memorial. A rose was placed on each man’s tablet in honour of their bravery and sacrifice.
Image Credits: Kt Bruce .