Warriors of the Sea: A Lifeboat Story
Twenty seven local men lost their lives off Southport shore on the night of 9th/10th December 1886 while attempting to rescue the crew of the “Mexico”.All but two of the crews of the Southport and St. Annes lifeboats died.
One of the memorials to the Southport crew was erected in Duke Street Cemetary the following year. A plaque on one side gives the names of the fourteen men who perished.
Up goes the Lytham signal, St. Annes has summoned hands,
Knee-deep in surf the lifeboat is launched abrest of Southport sands;
Half-deafened by the screaming wind, half-blinded by the rain,
Three crews await their Coxswains to face the hurricane.
The stakes are death or duty, no man has answered No!
Lives must be saved out yonder, on the good ship Mexico.
Did ever night look blacker, did sea so hiss before?
Did ever women’s voices wail more piteous on the shore?
But from three ports of Lancashire that night went lifeboats three
To fight a splendid battle, manned by Warriors of the Sea.
Three boats went out from Lancashire, but one came back to tell
The story of the hurricane, the tale of ocean’s hell!
All safely reached the Mexico, their trysting-place to keep,
For one there was the rescue, the others in the deep
Fell in the arms of victory! dropped to their lonely grave,
Their passing bell the tempest, their requiem the wave!
They clung to life like sailors, they fell to death like men,
Where, in our roll of heroes – when in our story – when
Have Englishmen been braver, or fought more loyally,
With death that comes by duty to the Warriors of the Sea.
When in dark nights of winter, fierce storms of wind and rain
Howl round the cosy homestead, and lash the window-pane;
When over hill and treetop we hear the tempest roar
And hurricanes go sweeping on from valley to the shore;
And those we love the best on earth are gathered in our homes,
Think of the sailors round our coasts who, braving sleet and snow,
Leave sweethearts, wives and little ones when duty bids them go.
Think of our sea-girt Island, a harbour where alone
No Englishman to save a life has failed to risk his own:
Then when the storm howls loudest, pray of your charity
That God will bless the Lifeboat, and the Warriors of the Sea.
Extract from a poem composed by Clement Scott following the “Mexico” disaster,
and published in “Punch” on 25th December 1886.