1919 Fraserburgh Lifeboat tragedy commemorated by current crew

Kenneth Ritchie reflects after the memorial service
Kenneth Ritchie reflects after the memorial service

The crew of the Fraserburgh Lifeboat recently laid a wreath commemorating the Coxswain and 2nd Coxswain who died in the first Fraserburgh Lifeboat disaster in April 1919.

Coxswain Andrew Noble, and 2nd Coxswain Andrew Farquhar, died when the then Fraserburgh Lifeboat the ‘Lady Rothes’ capsized while on service to the Admirality trawler Eminent in Fraserburgh Bay on April 28.

During its recent training exercise two miles offshore, the ‘Willie and May Gall’ lifeboat stopped and the crew gathered for an emotional ceremony.

Coxswain Victor Sutherland spoke about the two local men and the others since who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A wreath which had earlier been laid at the Fraserburgh Lifeboat Memorial statue, commemorating the 95th anniversary of the tragedy, was lain at sea by the newest member of the crew, Kenneth Ritchie.

Kenneth’s great grandfather Alexander Ritchie was a lifeboat crewman more than 100 years ago who served with Coxswain Andrew Noble and was awarded by the RNLI for an act of bravery following a dramatic rescue in 1912.

It was on the night of January 14,1912, that the Fraserburgh lifeboat had been called out to the Clio, a vessel attempting to make way into Fraserburgh’s harbour in a very heavy sea.

The trawler had struck the Beacon Rock off Cairnbulg Briggs

According to later reports, flares were burned and the life-saving aparatus was called out, but to no avail, the trawler simply too far out to reach, the decision made that rescue attempts would resume at daylight.

At about 11 pm, the second coxswain, James Sim, fearing that the crew of the Clio would die of exposure if they were not rescued before then, proposed that he and three others, Alexander Ritchie, Andrew Ritchie and James Mitchell, should swim to their rescue.

tchie, Andrew Ritchie and James Mitchell—and with the aid of the line got on to the Briggs.

The crew of the Clio were thus saves.

The RNLI, in turn, awarded the Sivler Medal to the second coxswain and its thanks insribed on vellum to the three crewmembers who bravely followed him into the waters.