Photo of Wyke Regis Coastguard Rescue Vehicle
About the Wyke Regis Coastguard Rescue Team
Who we are……and some of the teams more serious callouts

The Wyke Regis team consists of 12 volunteers from all walks of life who live locally.
All team members including the Station Officer are volunteers and have normal day jobs.
We are on call via a pager system, 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year to assist persons in distress,
primarily on the coast but occasionally inland to assist other agencies. As can be seen in the team members
section, we have over 160 years of combined SAR experience.

The team comprises of a Station Officer, Deputy Station Officer, Technicians and Operators.
We are all highly trained in cliff rescue, water rescue and search techniques.

Tasking the team to an incident is the role of the HM Coastguard Operations Room - MRCC Portland.
Staffed by paid professionals 24 hours a day, they are always on standby to deal with any emergency.

The area we cover……

The Wyke team cover 20 miles of the Jurassic Coast.
From the car park at Abbotsbury to the West (SY560846) and the pill box on top of
White Nothe to the East (SY772808)

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This is a very diverse coastline with the seaside resort and working harbour of
Weymouth in the centre of our guard. To the West of Weymouth are the world famous Chesil Beach and
Fleet Lagoon
. To the East the town’s beaches and popular water sport venues merge into a more
rugged coastline before the cliffs build in height to White Nothe.

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The story of Landing craft 2454 by Phillip Chappell, MRCC Portland

SYNOPSIS - HM LCT(A) 2454

Wrecked on Chesil Beach Friday, October 13, 1944

Caught in a force 9 gale whilst on passage from Dartmouth to Portland, the vessel suffered engine failure whilst making its way close inshore along the Chesil Beach in Lyme Bay. Shortly after anchoring about half a mile off-shore, the single stern-anchor cable parted and the ship was swept by mountainous seas onto the bank at Ferrybridge, Wyke Regis, where her back was broken. Nine of the thirteen crew aboard the RN-manned craft including the commanding officer subsequently died, along with two Coastguard officers of the rescue party onshore.

The two Coastguards who died were Captain John Alan Pennington Legh, DSC, RN (Retired), 55, HM Coastguard Inspector of the Southern Division; and Robert Henry Treadwell, 35, a regular Coastguardsman of the Wyke Rocket Lifesaving Company. Captain Pennington Legh who lived at The Old Manor, Radipole, had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in WW1 for his part in the sinking of a German submarine. He was a native of Knutsford in Cheshire and is commemorated on the War Memorial there; his body was never recovered from the sea. The body of Robert Treadwell, a married man and father to three young boy’s, was washed up in Chesil Cove the following day and was buried with full military honours in the RN Cemetery at Portland.

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LCT 2454 aground on Chesil Beach, the wreck is still visible today at certain states of the tide.

As tremendous waves up to 30ft high swept the landing craft eleven of her crew were immediately washed overboard, only two of whom were subsequently rescued from the surf by the coastguards. On board the stricken vessel, the last two crew-members were seen to be clinging on huddled in the meagre shelter of the tiny wheelhouse. Using the rocket lifesaving equipment the coastguards managed to fire lines onto the craft but as she shifted across the pebbles these became fouled or were washed away. Captain Legh and Coastguardsman Treadwell then ran into the surf to try to pass a line by hand, but were swept away by the powerful seas and both were drowned. Without any hesitation HM Coastguard District Officer William Charles Rowsell, accompanied closely by two members of the Fortuneswell Rocket Company – Auxiliary Coastguardsmen Albert Oldfield and Victor Francis Stephens then dashed forwards into the surf with more lines in an attempt to reach the men. All three men were almost immediately swept back onshore by the pounding seas, where Mr Rowsell and Stephens were rendered semi-conscious. At the same time, another member of the Fortuneswell Company – Auxiliary Coastguard Cyril George Leonard Brown, at great risk to his own life also entered the water carrying two lines. In a tremendous feat of endurance in which he remained in the surf for over 30 minutes, he actually managed to get aboard the stricken vessel and was able to pass the lines to the two men. He was then hauled ashore bringing one of the men with him, where they were both hospitalised. The second line parted before the last man could be brought ashore, and this time it was Albert Oldfield, without any safety line of his own, who again went out into the surf to put a fresh line into the mans hands and subsequently bring him safety.

George Brown, who was a full-time Fireman in the NFS, was subsequently awarded the Silver Sea Gallantry Medal for his heroism, as were Captain Legh and Coastguardsman Treadwell who were gazetted posthumously for their conspicuous bravery. George Brown also received the Silver Medal of the Royal Humane Society, who additionally bestowed upon him their Stanhope Gold Medal for the bravest deed of 1944 in recognition of his bravery in directly saving the lives of two men. District Officer William Rowsell, and Coastguards Victor Stephens and Albert Oldfield - both of whom worked in Portland Dockyard, were all awarded the Bronze Sea Gallantry Medal and the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society. The surviving coastguards were later presented with their RHS awards at a special ceremony at Portland Council Offices on 20th March 1945. They were presented with their Sea Gallantry Medals by King George VI at an Investiture at Buckingham Palace on VE Day, 8th May 1945. In June 1945 they were honoured at a Civic Reception at Weymouth Guildhall, with the exception of V.F Stephens who had unfortunately died in a car crash earlier that month.

At a Board of Enquiry held at HMS Attack, Portland, three days after the wrecking on 16 October, it was found that negligence and error of judgement was to blame in allowing the craft to proceed, in spite of information of the impending gale, and also in failing to take proper precautions in the wearing of lifebelts and other safety measures. The enquiry also stated that instructions for the craft to head inshore had increased the hazard.

 
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