Two services will be held later this month to mark 70th anniversary of tragic Flamborough event

This year marks the 70th anniversary of a tragic event that befell Flamborough on Tuesday, August 19, 1952.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st August 2022, 8:27 am
Updated Monday, 1st August 2022, 8:28 am
Bridlington Lifeboat ‘Tillie Morrison, Sheffield’ ashore at Thornwick Bay on August 19, 1952. Photo Courtesy of Dave Phillipson
Bridlington Lifeboat ‘Tillie Morrison, Sheffield’ ashore at Thornwick Bay on August 19, 1952. Photo Courtesy of Dave Phillipson

That day the two 16 year old Sheffield girls, Joan Marion Ellis and Gillian Mary Fox, on holiday with Joan’s mother at a nearby caravan camp, drowned after going swimming at Thornwick Bay.

This also resulted in the capsize of the Bridlington Lifeboat Tillie Morrison, Sheffield, and the loss of its bowman Robert Redhead.

The girls had bathed in the sea every day while on holiday and decided to do the same that Tuesday afternoon.

A plaque was finally placed atThornwick Bay in 2013. Photo courtesy of Paul L Arro

The sea was quite rough, the wind was north north east blowing 20 knots and gusting 25 knots, but both girls were good swimmers and told Mrs Ellis they would keep to the middle of the bay.

If they found it too rough they would come out immediately. A very shot time had elapsed before they appeared to be drawn into the centre of a large wave and carried out to sea.

The Coastguard had summoned the Bridlington Lifeboat and the RAF Marine Craft Unit to the incident as the lifeboat at Flamborough was off service.

To commemorate that fateful day, a wreath laying ceremony will take place near the wartime pillbox, at the lower end of the Donkey Path leading down to Thornwick Bay, at 10.30am on Friday, August 19.

The wreaths will be laid on behalf of the Flamborough Fishermen’s Memorial Group and the Flamborough Parish Council together with a short commemoration by Father Tony Wilson of the Roman Catholic Parish of St Mary’s Carlton and Selby.

A further wreath laying at sea will also take place just off Thornwick Bay at 11am on Sunday,August 21by lifeboat crews from Bridlington and Flamborough in memory of those lost.

Flight Sergeant Frederick (Monty) Banks, the coxswain in command of rescue launch 357 from the RAF Marine Craft Unit at Bridlington, was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.

With great skill and determination, Flt Sgt Banks heroically took his launch into the bay of North Landing in heavy seas to pick-up one of the girls.

Once back in harbour the girl was transferred to Lloyd Hospital where a final effort to revive her failed.

Coxswain Richard Cowling of the Flamborough Lifeboat said about the work of the RAF launch later “They were in deadly peril from the time they entered the bay and the rescue of the girl was a grand piece of work”.

Flt Sgt Banks had been posted to Bridlington only 10 days earlier.