Tributes paid to lifeboat crew lost 50 years ago

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The crew that tragically lost their lives

By Cara Sulieman

WREATHS will be placed at sea tomorrow (Tues) in a touching tribute to eight lifeboat crew from Broughty Ferry who lost their lives trying to rescue stranded sailors 50 years ago.

The tragedy rocked the close knit community when the Mona lifeboat was found run aground on December 8 1959.

They had headed towards St Andrews Bay to reach the crew of the North Carr lightship which had broken adrift of its moorings.

Those who lost their lives on December 8 1959 were Ronald Grant, 28, George Smith, 53, George Watson, 38, John Grieve, 56, James Ferrier, 43, Alexander Gall, 56, John T. Grieve, 22 and David Anderson, 42.

And tomorrow (Tues) they are being remembered as the current lifeboat crew take wreaths out to sea on behalf of family and friends of the men who died.

Last radio contact

It was in the early hours of the morning that the Mona was launched to try and help the North Carr Lightship.

As a storm blasted the shoreline, the Broughty Ferry crew were the only RNLI team in the area who were allowed to launch.

Almost two hours after the boat launched, they had their last radio contact to the control station – saying they could see the flare coming up from the North Carr.

But nothing more was heard from the Mona, and it was found capsized on Buddon Sands later that morning.

All eight members of crew had drowned – including father and son John and John T. Grieve.

The Mona at sea

As the Mona was making its way to the North Carr, the lightship crew managed to lower the anchor and were rescued by a RAF helicopter later that afternoon.

The RNLI carried out an investigation into the incident – which attracted international attention – but didn’t find anything wrong.

After the tragedy, the local community rallied together and raised £77,000 to go towards a disaster fund.

When the relief lifeboat was shipped in two weeks later, 38 volunteers had signed up for the new crew.

The bravery of the team still resonates with residents of Broughty Ferry today, and the RNLI’s current coxswain is determined they will never be forgotten.

“Tragically”

Murray Brown said: “Fifty years ago eight local lifeboat crew headed out into a severe gale to go to the aid of the stricken North Carr lightship.

“Tragically they never returned.

“We will remember those men, who made the ultimate sacrifice, by laying wreaths from family, friends, the local community and RNLI out at sea as a mark of respect.

“Those men like all lifeboat crew responded to the call for help, no matter what the weather or the time, we will never forget them.”

Folk singer Peggy Seeger wrote a song about the tragedy, The Lifeboat Mona, which was sung by The Dubliners.

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