Mumbles lifeboat memorial, Sker Point
A memorial plaque (pictured right) at the shoreline near here commemorates the eight crew members of the Mumbles lifeboat who died during a rescue attempt in 1947. All 39 sailors on the steamer, called Samtampa, also died.
Samtampa was built in the USA during the Second World War, one of many “liberty ships” built to replace merchant vessels torpedoed by Nazi U-boats. The ship was bound for Newport when it was caught in a gale on 23 April and driven towards the coast. The Mumbles lifeboat, Edward Prince of Wales, set off to rescue the ship’s crew but lacked a radio. It returned to the lifeboat station for help in locating the ship, then put out to sea again.
As night fell, Samtampa hit rocks at Sker Point. Onlookers could hear the sailors’ cries for help but were powerless, although rockets with cords attached were fired towards the wreckage in the hope of setting up a breeches buoy.
Daybreak revealed the hull of the Mumbles lifeboat near Sker Point. The boat had capsized and all eight crew members had died. They were: coxswain WJ Gammon; second coxswain William Noel; mechanics WG Davies and E Griffin; and crew members WRS Thomas, WL Howell, WR Thomas and R Smith.
This was the third tragedy to strike the Mumbles lifeboat, the history of which is available here.
The photo above left shows the 40th anniversary service at Sker Point, with the Mumbles lifeboat in the background. On the right is a recent photo showing remains of Samptampa, with the engine block prominent beyond the rocks. Thanks to RNLI Porthcawl for the photos.