(d) The End of Sail

Abdy Beauclerk and Lucy Lavers

The days of the sailing lifeboat were now numbered and the first motor lifeboat, the Abdy Beauclerk, arrived in December 1931, to be joined by the Lucy Lavers 9 years later.

Abdy Beauclerk: minimal sails back up the engine in a fair wind.

Abdy B heading out under engine.

Abdy Beauclerk carried out her first rescue of World War 2 only 7 days after war was declared when the SS Magdapur of Liverpool either struck a mine or was torpedoed and broke in two. Thick black oil covered the sea. Three other steamers were standing by and altogether 74 men, most of them injured, were taken ashore aboard the lifeboat. Both men and lifeboat were covered with oil and blood and it took a long time to make the Abdy B ready for her next shout.

SS Magdapur sinking off Sizewell September 1939.

The following year both Abdy B and Lucy Lavers were summoned to Dover along with 17 other RNLI lifeboats to help in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and the French Army from Dunkirk. Small Royal Navy crews sailed the boats to the French coast and they transported hundreds of men from the beaches out to the big ships waiting to transport them to England. Days later the boats were returned to their regular crews and to Aldeburgh.

It is on record that the largest number of shouts (calls for help) during WW2 were in response to reports of aircraft crashed into the sea. Our two lifeboats spent long hours searching exhaustively for survivors but usually all they found was wreckage or patches of oil.

Lucy Lavers at the top of the slip way awaiting launch

And in she goes off the rollers! An easy launch on a calm day.

It's the early '40s and the capstan is still in use to bring the life boats up the beach.