The Penlee Lifeboat Tragedy ©
Frank E Gibbard
'Twas a fearsome day that boded nothing well
At Penlee lifeboat station the most gigantic swell
Cascaded above the jetty, the coxswain could foretell
There'd be sailors in peril today, when rang the warning bell.
“Alert your crew!” the message said to background clap of thunder
“The Union Star is on the rocks and looks like going under!”
He summoned those men whose job it was to bend their wills to save her
Those brave few souls at his command he'd never known to waver
From nearby town and all around they responded to the call
Their personal concerns at once laid down for duty one and all.
Some arising took leave of wives or abandoned a morning kipper
No matter the unsocial hour when summoned by your skipper
They assembled at the Solomon Browne each garbed in a sou'wester
Disheartened by the darkening storm they knew this would be a tester.
With resolute hearts they launched their boat upon their worthy mission
To save some strangers come what may in RNLI tradition
Some shouts were less daunting than others and this one shouted: “bad!”
Eight brave hearted gentlemen could not foresee an ending so, so sad.
The Solomon Browne of some renown had sailed to her final call-out
The entire complement of those on board would suffer the tragic fall-out
No more to run those cobbled Cornwall lanes like pilots on a scramble
They drew short straws from Nature's claws and lost their noble gamble.
With a redoubtable record of saving lives they could not at the last their own
As the rescued company clambered aboard all their chances had been blown
The craft was to founder on the rocks and vanish in typhoon-like weather
But is still revered to this very day for those lifeboat men's endeavour.