The 'MARY STANFORD' Disaster

News paper clip showing Upturned "Mary Stanford Lifeboat" in the surf at Camber

The worst disaster for many years occurred on 15th November 1928 when the whole of the 17 man crew of the Mary Stanford Lifeboat were drowned, practically the whole male fishing population of the village. The Lifeboat was launched in a south-west gale with heavy rain squalls and heavy seas to the vessel "ALICE" of Riga. News was received that the crew of the "ALICE" had been rescued by another vessel and the recall signal was fired three times, but apparently the crew of the Lifeboat had not seen it. As the Lifeboat was coming into harbour she was seen to capsize and the whole of the crew perished. All the dependants were pensioned by the Institution. The local fund raised over £35,000.

A memorial tablet made of Manx stone was presented to Rye Harbour by the people of the Isle of Man.

A memorial stained glass window was placed in Winchelsea Church. It depicts a Lifeboat putting out to a ship in distress while figures on the shore watch as it goes.

The seventeen men who lost their lives were Herbert Head (47), Coxswain and two sons James (19) and John (17) ; Joseph Stonham (43), 2nd Coxswain; Henry Cutting (39) , Bowman and his two brothers Robert (28) and Albert (26); Charles (28), Robert (23) and Alexander (21) Pope, three brothers; William (27) and Leslie (24) Clark, Brothers; Morris (23) and Arthur (25) Downey, cousins; Albert Smith (44), Walter Igglesden (38) and Charles Southerden (22).