The form contains all the details of the “shout” in great detail, recording the times of launching, arrival on scene and return to station, where it was and what assistance the crew rendered. The weather, names and ages of those helped along with the name of the vessel as well as its value, where they were going from and to are all recorded.
These return of service forms can be traced right back to the foundation of the RNLI.
A copy of these forms is usually kept on station for research purposes; however, one particular set of forms went missing from Weymouth Lifeboat Station at some time in the past.
A duplicate copy of the missing records was recently found at a local auction house and is now in the hands of Dorset History Centre.
A copy of the Dorset History Centre blog is copied below. It recants one such service/shout from 2nd/3rd April 1874.
DORSET HISTORY CENTRE BLOG
Weymouth lifeboat – stories of heroism at sea
The (duplicate) Return of Services 1874-1882 describes a series of instances where the Weymouth lifeboat and its crew came to the rescue of various distressed vessels. Each entry in the volume records in some detail each instance of the lifeboat’s activities starting with a precis of how the stricken vessel had come to be where it was and the weather conditions at the time. This is followed by a series of details about the vessel (tonnage, crew size, port of origin and destination, number of lives saved – and number lost).
Also listed are the names of each of the lifeboat crew and an injunction to note ‘any special case of individual exertion’. The pecuniary side to maintaining the lifeboat service also forms part of the record with an entry for ‘amount, if any, of reward received locally or from elsewhere’. Also detailed in a separate section are the direct costs of paying expenses to the crew, paying anyone who assisted in the ‘launch and haul up of the lifeboat’ and where necessary the cost of transporting the lifeboat overland to its launch point. When all details were completed, they were signed off by the coxswain and honorary secretary of the Weymouth lifeboat station. As perhaps might be expected in cases where life and limb were very much at risk, details were very important. A paragraph summarising the incident was also included to be incorporated into the minutes of the RNLI’s central committee.
Fortunately, in none of the instances recorded in the volume was loss of life experienced. One incident on 2-3 April 1874 relates how a Brazilian vessel en route from London to Rio de Janeiro was rendered helpless due to its ‘disabled engineer’. Stranded off Lulworth ‘in a most dangerous place’ during a ‘hurricane…so thick they could not see the shore’ the ship was successfully boarded and pulled by tug to safety. The cost of the lifeboat launch was £13 and 4 shillings.
This single archival item contains within it a range of fascinating information and reminds us, if it were ever necessary of the perilous nature of seafaring – and the bravery of those who then and now risk their lives to save others.
Follow the link below to the original blog