The youngest lifeboat crew rescue airmen

A story from the past via the Whitby Lifeboat Museum.

The museum is at the end of Pier Road just past the arcades in the old Whitby lifeboat station. The station was one of the first, established in 1802. It was taken over by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) after the 1861 lifeboat disaster which resulted in the tragic loss of 12 from a crew of 13. The station was closed and turned in to a museum in 1957 and was temporarily brought back in to service in 2005 while Whitby’s existing station was demolished and rebuilt.

Donate to the RNLI.

YOUNGEST EVER LIFEBOAT CREW RESCUE AIRMEN

25th March 1942

At 10.55 am, a telephone message was sent to the lifeboat station from H.M. Coastguard stating that an aircraft was down in the sea 1 mile off Sandsend and that the lifeboat was 
requested to launch immediately.

The Motor Mechanic Jim Philpott realised that all of the regular crew were at sea fishing, and after the maroons were fired, he subsequently managed to find a retired Coxswain Thomas Welham (71), and mustered 5 more crew who were all just 16 years old.

The lifeboat proceeded to sea in patchy fog and soon found traces of oil on the water. Eventually, after a short search, the lifeboat located a rubber dinghy with four aircrew inside.

The airmen were taken aboard the lifeboat suffering from head wounds and one a leg injury.

All were landed at the fish quay about 30 minutes later and transferred to Whitby Hospital.

The Aircraft was a Lockheed Hudson of the R.A.F. which had earlier sunk.



The photograph below shows, left to right:

F. Russell, P. Storr, T. Lewis, Cox T. Welham, R. Russell, J. Philpott

A photo of R. Murfield is not available.

Each man (and boy) received 19 shillings (95p) for their services.



The Pilot expressed gratitude to the lifeboat crew, and also his surprise at the speed of their rescue.

Young Whitby lifeboat crewmen

Sandsend → Whitby

Walking from Sandsend to Whitby

This new year, we stayed in a cottage in Sandsend with a bunch of close friends. On the 30th, we walked to Whitby along the beach while the tide was out. Top-notch dog watching. It was gorgeous, sunny and around 50F/10C. We all had to take our coats off. Shame it wasn’t so warm on the 1st, we ended up chickening out of a new year’s dip in the sea.

Photo courtesy BL and his slick new phone.

A few days in Ceyreste 🇫🇷

Sunrise in October in Ceyreste, France

Spent a few days in Ceyreste (FR) recently with new and old friends to celebrate our dearest GC’s 30th. Lots of good food, time in the sun, swimming, etc, just what the doctor ordered. These are a few things I’d like to remember.


Calanques national park is beautiful. It can also involve some serious walking. I’m glad we brought a proper map, glad that we’d brought enough water between us, glad that we’d just missed peak tourist season, and really glad that GC bought some snacks!

We drove to Cassis and parked as close as we could to Calanque de Port Miou towards the west end of the town. This ended up being the metered parking on the corner where Avenue Révérend Père Jayne turns into Avenue des Calanques, the rest of the way down to Calanque de Port Miou was marked “sauf riverains” or residents entry only. After that we walked down Avenue des Calanques till we hit Port Miou, then we walked southwest on the main gravel path marked white/green/red running parallel to the calanque. We paused where the white path looped north and the green/red path continued southwest, and that’s where LM and DP peeled off with the littlest one in the buggy to head back in to town along a reasonably flat path.

The rest of us continued on the green/red path to Calanque de Port Pin which was slightly rougher going. The rocks got particularly slippery right before the beach. We paused at Port Pin for a swim and to wait for some later arrivals to join us. The water was beautiful, and chilly! It was sunny, but the heavy wind probably contributed to the chill.

Swimming in Calanque de Port Pin in France

After Calanque de Port Pin, KB, SC, and their little one headed back to Port Miou on the white path heading north. The rest of us headed uphill on the green/red/blue path just as some dude with a carbon fibre alphorn showed up… The going was slightly rough but not too bad. The top of the hill was a sort of crossroads with another path running flat along the ridge. It marked the beginning of our descent towards Calanque d’en Vau.

The sign at the crossroads indicated tough terrain, and the path was marked with “danger dots” 🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴🔴 on the map. It was rough, incredibly steep and involved a lot of shuffling around on your butt. It was also super windy. We eventually reached the bottom unbroken and joined a reasonably flat white path leading the rest of the way to Calanque d’en Vau. A 4×4 ambulance blasted past us on this stretch, apparently some hikers had tried to go up the steep cliffside of the calanque and got in to a sticky situation. Unfortunately we got to the beach too late in the day for any sun, but we took a chilly swim anyway. Tons of fish! I’d love to come back to go snorkelling, I’d probably take a different path in though or at least wear much sturdier shoes.

To get back to where we had parked, we had to head back up the danger dots path. It was daunting but way easier going up. We then took a left at the crossroads to head north on the level white/blue path. When we hit what I think was a church, we took a right on a descending white path heading east which merged with the brown/yellow path about halfway down. Eventually Port Miou came in to view, and then the path switchbacked down to where we started.


Learned about a few new cocktails from the masters themselves. Boulevardier = 1 oz bourbon + 1 oz Campari + 1 oz sweet vermouth w/ orange peel to garnish (basically a Negroni w/ bourbon instead of gin). Paper Plane = ¾ oz bourbon + ¾ oz amaro + ¾ oz Aperol + ¾ oz fresh lemon juice. No amaro to be found at the hypermarchet sadly, but they still gave it the old college try and it was pretty tasty.

The ultimate moderator also led us in Werewolf, a game that was new to me. We played a simplified version w/ just a werewolf and a doctor which was perfect for a big group of beginners. It’s pretty similar to Mafia w/o cards.


The plants and landscape in Provence reminded me so much of southern California, and the dry stone walls along many of the smaller roads reminded me of Yorkshire.

There was wild rocket along all the highways just outside of Marseille, but unfortunately not where we were staying. There were a bunch of strawberry trees around the house and a lot of thyme and rosemary which was super useful for cooking. In retrospect I think there might have been savory as well, but I’m not totally sure what that looks or tastes like.

Not sure if I encountered many mosquitos outside but we definitely had 2–3 trapped in our room. I have some gnarly bug bites.


There was so much good food. Definitely glad I remembered lactase pills because it would have been super sad to miss out on the cheese and NB’s excellent carrot cake. Will definitely be referring back to that recipe, particularly since it works well with GF flour as well. And pizza! The place had a pizza oven which was excellent, particularly since the two Italians in the group were kind enough to lend their brains to the operation. Dinner on the last night was a use-up-all-the-things meal, see recipes / descriptions.


It had been far too long since I’d seen so many of these people.

TIL about reef-safe sunscreen

TIL certain sunscreens are likely harmful to coral reefs. Wish I’d known this a month ago… Go for a physical sunscreen instead of a chemical one. Physical sunscreens can be less cosmetically preferable, need to be reapplied often, and can leave a white-ish cast, but they are usually gentler on skin and – here’s the kicker – are much less likely to kill oceanic critters.