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The Flamborough Lifeboats

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Loss of 'Gleaner' & 'Two Brothers' - 5th February 1909

This page was
last updated :

26th October 2005


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Before the RNLI
Station History

Bad Weather at North LandingTwo local fishing cobles had been out fishing, when the more experienced crews had remained ashore. A severe gale was imminent, but as John Cross needed money to feed his family, he put to sea. By the time they were returning to North Landing the gale was raging. The entrance to North Landing is narrow and with rock platforms (known as 'Scars') at either side force the sea into steep rollers. As the weather gets worse the rollers get wider and eventually seal off the entrance.

The coble 'Two Brothers' was the first to attempt the narrow channel into the landing. On board were George Gibbon, Melchoir Chadwick, and Thomas Leng Major. They negotiated the channel successfully although it was touch and go. As they were half way home the coble 'Gleaner' made her attempt to enter the landing. A particularly large roller struck the boat and capsized her, throwing the crew into the boiling sea. The crew were John Cross and his two sons, Robert Cross and Richard Major Cross.

The Memorial InscriptionThe crew of the 'Two Brothers', on seeing the stricken boat and crew turned their coble around. They made their way back to the scene, but another wave capsized their boat as well. Both crews and boats met their fate near to a point known locally as West Scar.

'FORESTER', the number one station lifeboat was immediately launched. Even with two men at each oar, instead of the usual one they could not get more than 50 yards from the shore. The sea and wind were so severe that they kept the lifeboat from carrying out her role.

The Fishermens MemorialAs a result of this disaster, one crewmember of the lifeboat at that time vowed to devote his life to saving lives at sea. This was Robert Cross, the brother and uncle of the crew of the 'Gleaner'. He later became the Coxswain of the Humber Lifeboat and one of the most notorious Coxswains of the Second World War. During his time at Spurn Point he won the George Medal and also two Gold Medals, three Silver Medals and two Bronze Medals for bravery from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

For making the ultimate sacrifice of laying down their lives for their colleagues a monument was erected on Chapel Street in the centre of the village. It is a permanent record of their heroism and is can still be seen today. Mrs. C. G. Southcott, the Mayoress of Bridlington at the time, set up the fund to pay for it. She unveiled the monument on 19th August 1909. The memorial has the following inscription:

was erected by public subscriptions
to commemorate the Conspicuous Act
of Bravery of the crew of the coble
George Gibbon, Melchoir Chadwick
Thomas Leng Major.
Who gave their lives in a gallant
attempt to save the crew of the coble
John Cross his two sons Robert Cross
Richard Major Cross of Flamborough
who all perished near the West Scar
North Landing in the great gale,
February 5th 1909.

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