Remembering the Mary Stanford

In the church

The Church of the Holy Spirit. Rye Harbour, held its annual service in remembrance of the Mary Stanford lifeboat crew, all of whom lost their lives on November 15, 1928. Launched in heavy seas, the Mary Stanford went to the aid of SS Alice, out of the port of Riga. Tragically, the Mary Stanford capsized with the loss of all 17 crew on board. The SS Alice crew had already been rescued. The lifeboat station was immediately closed, re-established as an inshore lifeboat station and reopened on its present site in 1966.

Led by Canon David Frost, Rector of Rye, who was assisted by Linda Estrada, the service was held in the lovely little church in Rye Harbour, with its boat barrel  ceiling, and in the churchyard, the memorial to the men.

A tablet of Manx stone inside the church lists the names of all seventeen men.

The church was full, with standing room only, as the service opened. It was a solemn and moving occasion, especially when relatives of all ages came up to the altar, each lighting a candle in memory of their family’s loved ones.

The Memorial with wreaths
The remembrance ceremony at the Memorial

The average age of the men was only 29 years and for five families, more than one member died. This had a profound effect on such a small community, which is still remembered 89 years on.

Following the blessing, the congregation moved into the churchyard for the wreath laying and act of remembrance. “The Last Post” sounded at the beginning of the two minute silence, followed by “Reveille” at the end, ringing out over the fields. The sun was going down and there was a truly beautiful sunset in the background as, in the words of the service “At the going down of the sun, we will remember them”.

Photos: Gillian Roder and kt Bruce

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