Wanted: stories of First World War rescue at sea.

People on Devon’s south and north coasts are being asked to come forward with tales of lifesaving missions at sea during the First World War.

Researchers at the Devon Remembers Heritage Project, based at Devon Heritage Centre in Exeter, want to find out more about how local people patrolled the coast and tried to rescue those in peril during the 1914–1918 war. They are keen to hear from anyone who remembers stories passed down through families or communities about wartime rescues at sea. Records kept by the RNLI, the Coastguard and Trinity House can shed a great deal of light of the subject, but the team is equally keen to hear local accounts.

Project officer Katherine Findlay said: “We’re interested in who was operating Devon’s lifeboats, coastguard stations and the lighthouses during the First World War after the younger men were conscripted into the Navy, and what sort of missions they were launching. But we also want to hear about any ‘unofficial’ rescues carried out by local people with boats. There is a wealth of knowledge in our coastal communities about how life went on 100 years ago and we’re keen to hear from anyone with a story to tell.”

Anyone with information to share should email Katherine at katherine.findlay@swheritage.org.uk or call 01392 381975, or Len Collum at lencollum@yahoo.co.uk 01237 472883.

The project, which is managed by the South West Heritage Trust, is running a programme of research, talks, events and exhibitions across Devon to give local people an opportunity to explore the county’s First World War experience.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the project has received a grant of £267,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) with additional support from the South West Heritage Trust, Devon County Council, Torbay Council and the University of Exeter.


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