View as PDF

1917 Bronze Medal presented to Eyemouth lifeboat station

Lifeboats News Release

The Norwegian schooner, ‘Livlig’, set sail from Norway, bound for the east coast of England when it was caught in severe south-easterly gale on Tuesday 6 March, 1917.

The schooner, laden with pit props, was seen from Eyemouth running under bare poles and was later seen to be in great distress off St Abbs Head, where the vessel was taking on water and on its beam end.  Its seven crew hanging onto the rigging, one man having already been washed overboard and drowned when the gale took down the vessel's main mast.

The Eyemouth lifeboat, Anne Francis, a pulling and sailing lifeboat, under the command of coxswain William Miller, was launched into the teeth of the gale and breaking seas.  It took the crew over an hour to get alongside the Livlig as they struggled against the terrible conditions.  When the lifeboat reached the Livlig, the vessel was on its beam end but righted as the lifeboat approached, its crew in a desperate state, still clinging to the rigging, exhausted.

With great skill and courage, the lifeboat crew established a breeches buoy between both boats and with that, they saved all seven crew from the Livlig.

Coxswain Miller then faced a difficult decision.  The prevailing conditions would have meant risking further peril trying to enter Eyemouth so Miller decided to head north and towards the Firth of Forth.  Heavy seas repeatedly swept clean over the lifeboat and everyone on board suffered greatly from exposure on their passage.  But, the crew, numbed by the cold, kept going, and by 9.30pm arrived in Granton.  Both the shipwrecked men and lifeboat crew were met and taken to the Sailors' Home in Leith for rest and medical care.

The lifeboat crew returned to Eyemouth by train the following day, and when the weather moderated, returned to Granton and sailed the Anne Francis home.

The body of a seaman wearing oilskins and lifebelt bearing the name of the Livlig was found on the beach at Seacliffe, near Dunbar, the day after the rescue.  The body was that of the crewman who had been swept overboard.

For his truly outstanding seamanship and leadership, the RNLI awarded William Miller a Bronze medal.  His crew, George Lowrie, Alex Rae, Andrew Craig, William Johnstone, Robert Crombie, A Dougal, J Burgon, Robert Lough, James Dickson, John Gillie and D Young were all given monetary awards for the essential part they played in the long and very demanding service.

The Bronze medal awarded to William Miller has now been passed into the care of Eyemouth lifeboat station by his great great grandson John Miller.  Never has the saying ‘Boats were made of wood and men were made of steel’ been more apt than in the case of this rescue.

Eyemouth lifeboat station and its crew are honoured to be the custodians of William Miller's Bronze Medal and all it stands for.

Photos:

1. 1917 Eyemouth lifeboat, Anne Francis
2. RNLI Bronze medal awarded to coxswain, William Miller

RNLI media contacts:
For more information please email Eyemouth lifeboat press officer, Adam Ferguson, adam.ferguson@hotmail.co.uk or Richard Smith, Media Relations Manager Scotland on 01738 642956, 07786 668903 or Richard_Smith2@rnli.org.uk or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336 789

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.

 

The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland