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99th Anniversary of Death of Admiral Sir Nicholas Dawlish

Sunday 23rd April 2017

The audacious amphibious raid on Zeebrugge on St. George's Day 1918 saw the death of Sir Nicholas Dawlish in a manner he would have found wholly appropriate. Click on the "Dawlish" bar above to learn more.

"Britannia's Eventide" - free-to-download short story set in 1914

Monday 10th April 2017

Click on yellow text above to find out how to get this short-story that details a critical turning point in the life of Nicholas Dawlish.

5th Dawlish Chronicles Novel published!

Saturday 5th November 2016

"Britannia's Amazon", the fifth book in the Dawlish Chronicles series, is now available in paperback and in Kindle versions!

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The Five Padstow Heroines of 1879

Most of my blog-entries deal with naval history, and inevitably involve much “Blood and Iron”. This post deals however with a peacetime act of heroism and one that typifies the courage and resolution of so many formidable Victorian women. It came about when I was looking through some Victorian nautically-related books, coming across a story which I find not only impressive for its heroism, but for the delightful illustration that accompanied the item

On 9th August 1879 a fishing boat capsized in a wind squall off Bray Hill, Padstow Harbour, Cornwall. At the time, the five young ladies, four sisters from the Prideaux Brune family, and a friend called O'Shaughnessy, were in their rowing boat which was being towed behind a fishing -smack. The latter was skippered by a Samuel Bate, previously the assistant coxswain of the Padstowe lifeboat. They saw that three men had been thrown into the water from the overturned craft, two of whom drowned. They were not prepared to allow the same fate to befall the third.

Despite the heavy sea the ladies asked Bate to be cast them off from his smack. He refused initially but there demands were such that he could not resist longer and he described them as rowing away “like tigers”. They stroked fearlessly through heavy surf to reach the third man. They managed to get him into their boat with the greatest difficulty, and at serious risk to themselves, saved his life and got back to shore safely.

It is pleasing to record that Royal National Lifeboat Institution awarded silver medals to Misses Ellen Frances Prideaux-Brune; Gertrude Rose Prideaux-Brune; Mary Katherine Prideaux-Brune, and Beatrice May Prideaux-Brune; together with Miss Nora O’Shaughnessy “for their intrepid and prompt services”. It is equally pleasing to record for our generation the names of these intrepid women. I particularly like the illustration of them in action – appropriately dressed in sailor suits – and note that one of them did however suffer the disaster that Victorian women feared: she lost her hat.

Though I had previously never heard of this incident – which must have been famous in its time – I was within minutes possible to find a photograph of the Prideaux Brune sisters via Google. Such are the wonders of the electronic age!

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