Medals and Awards

CABLE James, Coxswain, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


MANN William, Assistant Coxswain, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


11 November 1891:’In recognition of their several gallant services in the lifeboat’ particularly on the occasion that the Norwegian barque Winnifred of Laurvig was seen running north in a South-south-westerly gale and a very heavy sea, with her main and mizzen masts gone and flying a distress signal. The Norfolk and Suffolk Class lifeboat Aldeburgh was launched at 1.50 p.m., but the barque ran on to one of the sandbanks in Aldeburgh Bay, Suffolk, before she could be reached. With heavy seas sweeping over her, she was filling rapidly, when Mr. Cable went close enough to rescue the crew of 16 and a Pilot. Some of the crew were hauled through the water into the lifeboat, and the remainder were snatched off the jib boom. Assisted by Mr. Mann, the survivors were landed at 4.30 p.m.

SPINDLER Henry, Coxswain, Thorpeness Lifeboat


December 1892: ‘In recognition of his gallant services during the ten years he held the office of Coxswain’. During that period Coxswain Spindler had been out in the boat 34 times on service and assisted in saving 93 lives.

CABLE James, Coxswain, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


20 November 1893: At 6.30 a.m. a waterlogged, dismasted hull was seen off Aldeburgh, Suffolk, with terrific seas breaking over her and in danger of drifting on to the outer shoals. The Norfolk and Suffolk class lifeboat Aldeburgh launched and found the wreck of the Russian barque Venscapen already breaking up but, within a few minutes, took off all the crew of 14 men. Running for Harwich, the lifeboat fell in with the damaged Hull Pilot cutter Fox and took her to that port. Later in the day, the lifeboat searched the Rough Sands for a casualty but found only wreckage. She returned to Harwich at midnight, and regained Aldeburgh at 1 p.m. on 21 November.

WARD Charles Edward, Bowman, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


‘In consideration of his gallant services for many years past in the lifeboat and in shore boats in saving more than 100 lives. Mr. Ward served as Assistant Coxswain (to 1881) and Coxswain (1881-1888) of the lifeboat until compelled to resign because his fishing took him away so often from the station’. Up to the time of his resignation outstanding services were given to the schooner Equity (1881), the schooner Rambler (1882), fishing boats Maggie and Australia (1883), SS Svend (1887) and the barque Hoppet (1888). After his resignation he manned the lifeboat when his work allowed.

WARD Charles Edward, Bowman, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


7 December 1899: During a full east-south-easterly gale and in extremely violent seas, a vessel was reported aground on Shipwash Sands. The Norfolk and Suffolk Class lifeboat Aldeburgh launched. As the Coxswain and Second Coxswain were prevented by illness from going out in the boat, Mr Ward (a previous Coxswain) acted as Coxswain. Forcing her way through the extremely heavy surf, the lifeboat set sail to the south. Trying to cross the Inner Shoal, the lifeboat was capsized when two huge waves struck her broadside on, trapping six of her crew underneath. As soon as the lifeboat came ashore, efforts were made to get out the trapped men, and a hole was chopped in the upturned hull, but to no avail. Charles Ward was one of the first men washed ashore and, although badly shaken, he repeatedly went back into the heavy surf to help his comrades ashore.

A seventh man died three months later from his injuries.

CABLE James, Coxswain, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


15-16 February 1900: The lifeboat Reserve No. 1 was launched at 10.30 p.m., after a vessel had been reported on Sizewell Bank, off the coast of Suffolk, and headed through tremendous seas. heavy rain and sleet but could not find any trace of a casualty. An enormous sea sent her backwards and Coxswain Cable was knocked overboard, but he managed to get back inboard; the lifeboat dropped anchor. About 4 a.m. distress signals were seen, and the lifeboat found the SS Hylton, London, which had lost her rudder and propeller. Coxswain Cable put two of his men aboard, and then went to Lowestoft to make arrangements for tugs to tow the vessel to Gravesend.

4 October 1900: This incident again took place on the Sizewell Bank. A southerly gale and very heavy seas meant that the hauling-off warp had to be used to launch the Aldeburgh lifeboat which was towed by the SS Minerva, Hamburg to the barque Antares, Karlskrona (Sweden). Coxswain Cable dropped anchor and veered down to the stranded vessel, taking off 11 crewmen in three attempts. James Cable had been Coxswain since January 1888. He had charge of the lifeboat on more than 20 occasions and had assisted in the rescue of 269 lives.

CHATTEN George Edward, Coxswain, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


23 November 1938: Just after 8 a.m. in a northerly gale and very heavy seas, the Watson (Beach) class lifeboat Abdy Beauclerk was launched to three barges seen to be in distress two and a half miles north east of the station. The Rochester barge Grecian refused help, but two men were taken off the Rochester barge Astrild, riding at anchor near Sizewell Bank, her topsail gone and with damage to her spars and rigging. The London barge Decima also refused help, therefore Coxswain Chatten returned to the Grecian and took off two men. By this time, it was impossible to make Aldeburgh and the lifeboat headed for Lowestoft arriving at 1.15 p.m.

WOOD Reuben, Coxswain, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


10 April 1972: With all local fishing boats returned except one, the Watson (Beach) class lifeboat Alfred and Patience Gottwald launched at 10.10 a.m. into a very rough sea with a gale and frequent heavy squalls. She came up with the motor fishing vessel Ocean Pride approaching treacherous shoals one mile south of Aldeburgh. Heading towards the beach, the fishing vessel crossed the outer shoal, but was overwhelmed by a huge wave on the inner shoal and sank. Coxswain Wood took his lifeboat straight to the spot and picked up two of the crew immediately. The third crew member was recovered only after skilful manoeuvring of the lifeboat.

MARJORAM John, Helmsman, Aldeburgh Inshore Lifeboat


COOK Douglas, Crew, Aldeburgh Inshore Lifeboat


17 August 1977: In a gale over a rough sea, the yacht Spreety, manned by her owner and his 11year old son, was in difficulties off Aldeburgh, Suffolk. An attempt was made to launch the Beach Watson class lifeboat, but this proved impossible so the inflatable lifeboat D-111, whose crew was still under training, launched at 8.45 a.m. Making the first few yards under oars, The engine was started and Helmsman Marjoram drove her, filled by heavy seas, to the casualty, where the boy was taken off and lifted by helicopter. The inflatable lifeboat stood by until the yacht was taken in tow by the Aldeburgh offshore lifeboat and then accompanied her to the River Ore.

CATCHPOLE John William, Coxswain, Lowestoft Lifeboat


FIRMAN Ian, Coxswain/Mechanic, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


29 August 1996: Lowestoft’s Tyne class lifeboat Spirit of Lowestoft and Aldeburgh’s Mersey Class lifeboat Freddie Cooper were both involved in a long, arduous service in storm force winds and extremely heavy seas when they answered a Mayday call from the yacht Red House Lugger. She was on passage from Holland with her Skipper, a schoolmaster, and four 16 and 17 year old pupils on board. The yacht was about 30 miles south east of Lowestoft. The two lifeboats reached the casualty about 10.15 a.m. to find the cargo ferry Norking standing by to provide some shelter. With great difficulty. Coxswain Firman put his boat alongside the Red House Lugger and three of the crew were snatched to safety. Second Coxswain Shane Coleman was then put aboard the yacht from the Lowestoft boat and helped the remaining people on to the Spirit of Lowestoft. It was then decided to tow the yacht to Harwich, which they finally reached at 7 p.m. Aldeburgh lifeboat was at sea from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. whilst the Lowestoft boat returned to her station shortly after 11.30 p.m. At one point during the rescue, the Aldeburgh lifeboat was laid over by a wave until the wheelhouse windows on the port side were under water. No crew were injured, hut one of them had been completely immersed and his automatic lifejacket had inflated. Second Coxswain Shane Coleman was awarded the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum.

FIRMAN LAN, Coxswain/Mechanic, Aldeburgh Lifeboat


20th May 2000: The Dutch yacht Rose Bank with a crew of four had steering difficulties 7 miles east of Aldeburgh. Mersey Class lifeboat Freddie Cooper was launched at 10.38 in a fierce WNW force 7 wind. The weather conditions were rapidly deteriorating and when Freddie Cooper reached the last reported position Rose Bank was nowhere to be found. Due to the worsening conditions the Harwich boat was also launched. Intermittent radio calls were received from the Rose bank and she was by now another 7 miles to the east so once again Coxswain Firman set off after her. Again arriving on scene Rose Bank had made another 6 miles to the east. By now the wind had increased to severe gale force 11 and the waves some 6 metres high. Eventually, some 22 miles from the coast, Freddie Cooper came onto Rose Bank. Coxswain Firman decided to steam up wind of the casualty and fire a rocket line across to Rose Bank so they could secure a tow. The wind catching the rocket it landed high on the forestay and using a fender the crew lowered the line and just as the crew was securing a towing line the Rose bank broached and the tow had to be cut. A second attempt was made to fire a line to them but this time it was secured by the crew over the forward guardrail and not through it. Thus when strain was applied the guardrail would have been pulled off. Whilst trying to re-rig the tow the line was snatched from their grasp. The skipper of the Rose Bank decided to abandon ship and the plan was for Freddie Cooper to come alongside and grab crew members fro the stricken yacht and the Harwich boat, which had arrived by this time to steam astern and pick up any one who fell into the sea. Three attempts were made to get alongside and the crew of three were lifted off. On the fourth attempt another petrified crew member was grabbed and on the last occasion the skipper put his helm hard over and run to the side to be heaved unceremoniously aboard Freddie Cooper. The Freddie Cooper and Harwich boat then set off for Harwich with the idea being to transfer the crew to the larger Harwich boat so they could catch the Harwich ferry back to Holland where they were originally heading to. However conditions were too bad and the crew too traumatised to make the transfer. The 4 crew were landed at Aldeburgh at 3.15pm.

Next Exercise

The next Lifeboat exercise is on:-

Monday 21st August 2017 at 11am.

Launches are subject to change.

ILB exercises – every Sunday at 9.30am and Thursday 6.30pm, subject to weather and operational requirements

Guild Events

2017 Aldeburgh Annual Treasure Hunt

2pm Saturday 27th May

Start and finish at the Railway Inn, Aldeburgh

£5 per head (£2 for under 16's) - picture puzzles, clues and route map supplied

Light snack available at finish


Treasure chest prize for the winners plus medals

Steven Saint Coxswain

Live Weather observation for Aldeburgh/Slaughden updated every 10 seconds

Weather feed provided by Slaughden Sailing Club
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