THIS year Weymouth RNLI is celebrating 150 years of lifesaving.

With this in mind, it seems appropriate to bring you some extracts from a particularly dramatic time for the Weymouth lifeboat. The Weymouth RNLI Lifeboat station log book for October 1939, records that brave lifeboat crew saved not only the 43 men caught up in an explosion but also four men from a plane that came down in the sea....

Thanks to volunteer press officer Ken Francis for these extracts.

7th to 8th October 1939

William and Clara Ryland

Sea state smooth with swell

11.25pm - Coastguard advised Hon.Sec. a ship had struck a mine near the Shambles light vessel. Help required. Lifeboat should be held in readiness until hearing further from Naval Authorities.

11.35pm Lifeboat crew assembled awaiting orders.

11.50pm - Coastguard advised Hon.Sec. that Senior Naval Officer Portland had advised him that the lifeboat should proceed immediately.

11.52pm Lifeboat away.

12.30am Lifeboat was on scene, stood by until vessel sank.

3.15am - Lifeboat returned.

Survivors of vessel having been taken aboard examination vessel. 41 crew + 2 injured.

3.30am Very heavy explosion in vicinity of Shambles light vessel.

Coastguard asked Hon.Sec. to keep lifeboat standing by on return from previous incident.

3.50am On instruction from SNO Portland lifeboat again launched and instructed to search position given by him.

8.15am Lifeboat back on station having found considerable quantity of wreckage only.

NOTE; Lifeboat launched on information received from Naval Authority. What really happened is at present being kept secret by Admiralty.

Lifeboat only found considerable amount of wreckage. No trace of vessel or boats etc.

Could not get any information at this point.

14th October 1939

William and Clara Ryland.

Weather thick with squalls.

9.20pm Coastguard reported Shambles light vessel had fired their guns and were sending up rockets. Lifeboat crew immediately assembles and all ready by 9.40pm.

9.40pm Lifeboat standing by awaiting CG orders to proceed.

10pm Orders received lifeboat away.

11.20 Lifeboat spoke to Shambles light ship and received position.

12.00 Midnight found aircraft with small boat from Shambles light ship with 4 men taken off aircraft. These were being transferred to a Destroyer that had arrived.

0.28am Lifeboat took 4 men manning lightships boat which was waterlogged back to lightship.

12.15pm Lifeboat back

Note: Appears to have been a Coastal Patrol aircraft in connection to convoy system had lost bearings in the thick weather and ran out of fuel. The way the plane came down it would not have floated longer when found by the men from the lightship.