Mumbles Lifeboat ‘Edward Prince of Wales’, 1947.
On the evening of 23rd of April 1947 during a severe storm, the S.S.Samtampa, a liberty ship built in the USA 1943, anchored off Porthcawl to shelter from the storm. The ship snapped it’s three anchor mooring chains and was drifting perilously towards the rocky shoreline at Sker Point. The ship sent out an S.O.S call to the coastguard. In response at 7.10 pm the Mumbles Lifeboat ‘Edward Prince of Wales’, was launched from Mumbles Pier, Lifeboat station. The crew of eight lifeboat men were – William J Gammon, coxswain, William Noel, 2nd coxswain, Gilbert Davies, 1st mechanic, Ernest Griffin, 2nd mechanic, William Thomas, boatman, William Howell, boatman, Ronald Thomas, boatman and Richard Smith, boatman. The lifeboat ‘Edward Prince of Wales’, was built in 1924 and was diesel-powered. Prior to this incident she had been in service for 23 years, and had rescued and saved the lives of 129 people. On the fateful evening the lifeboat found it difficult to locate the Samtampa on the first attempt and after returning back to Mumbles a second attempt was made to locate the stricken ship. During the second attempt the ship was located close to the shoreline and the crew of the Lifeboat tried in vain to get a lifeline on board the stricken vessel. The Samtampa was in serious trouble and was spilling out fuel and oil into the surrounding sea. A huge wave hit the Lifeboat flipping her right over. All the crew perished, overwhelmed by toxic fumes. The Samtampa split in three pieces and resulted in the loss of all on board. No one survived this tragic night with the terrible loss of all eight Lifeboat men and thirty nine crewmen from the Samtampa.
There is a wonderful memorial window dedicated to the brave crew of the Mumbles Lifeboat, ‘Edward Prince of Wales’, at All Saints, Church, Oystermouth, Mumbles.