Barnoldswick representatives attending a Rohilla centenary memorial in Whitby on Saturday have described it as “moving and sombre”.
Fifteen Barlickers travelled to the North Yorkshire coastline to mark 100 years since the HMHS Rohilla maritime disaster, in which 12 men from the St John Ambulance Brigade in Barnoldswick died and three survived when the hospital ship sank in a fierce storm in Saltwick Bay near Whitby.
A wreath was laid at the wreck site containing the message: “Barnoldswick remembers 12 dedicated men who lost their lives and recognizes their sacrifice.
“It also pays tribute to those individuals, who, with great gallantry, saved three of our townsfolk to return to their families. We will always remember.”
Peter Thompson, who laid the wreath, missed the call to go out on the historic William Riley lifeboat involved in the rescue mission and instead went out on the RNLI’s current George and Mary Webb vessel.
He said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day. Things didn’t quite go to plan as we were running short of time and I finished up going on the Whitby lifeboat.
“But as far as I’m concerned it was case of ‘never mind’. The job is done and it was the ride of my life, I can tell you.
“It was really moving when we got to the Rohilla wreck site, sombre but very memorable. We went right out to sea on this boat, and if anything had happened we would’ve been straight off because it was on call at all times.
“They opened up the throttle at one stage... what an experience. The day couldn’t have been better. The sea was calm and the welcome we received from Whitby was lovely. I haven’t high enough praise for it.”
Chairman of Barnoldswick Town Council, Coun. Claire Teall, who’s husband’s great uncle Fred Riddiough was one of the three Barnoldswick survivors, was on another boat in the flotilla which went out to sea.
She praised the organisation and was impressed how the event embraced all those who wanted to pay their respects.
Coun. Teall added: “We were very proud to represent Barnoldswick. It was a beautiful day and very different to 100 years ago when there was the raging storm.
“We went to the wreck site and there were prayers before the laying of the wreaths. They actually rang the Rohilla bell too which was really quite poignant.
“I was actually talking to one lady who is ill with cancer who was on the boat I was on. She must live in Whitby and every year walks down to the end of the sea wall and throws a wreath in to the sea.
“She has no relatives from the disaster but was determined to get herself on that boat and come out on the 100th anniversary.”