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The worst hurricane for over a century devastated the south coast of England in 1866, during a period when emergency services were in their infancy.
In the town of Poole, Dorset, the newly appointed lifeboat is launched to aid the numerous stricken ships in the vicinity but unaccountably fails to save any lives. Many sailors are drowned as a result. In an era when gallantry and self-sacrifice were expected, the lifeboatmen are publicly accused of cowardice by local dignitaries creating a serious rift in a close-knit community.
It is in this atmosphere of suspicion and blame that lifeboat coxswain Richard Stokes finds himself, tasked with overcoming a prevailing sense of pessimism and creating a viable team which will be ready for the next maritime emergency. By recognising the weaknesses that lie within both his crew and himself, he endeavours to take the sometimes painful steps to put things right. In a divided community battered by the rages of the sea, relationships and loyalties are tested in dramatic style.
When another opportunity eventually presents itself for the lifeboatmen to test their mettle, they are prepared to put all their plans into action and present a courageous front. In violent seas, they are called to a treacherously unstable wreck with forty-six men trapped on board. Will the coxswain and his men be able to save all souls on board and redeem past mistakes, or will this be yet another opportunity for the community to blast their efforts and deem their services dangerously insufficient?
This fast paced true story provides an authentic and enthralling evocation of a nineteenth century seafaring community on the brink of great change.
As featured on BBC Radio Solent and in the Bournemouth Echo
As featured in part of author articleFamily Tree, October 2016
As featured in.Your Family History - Spring 2016
As featured in.Family Tree - April 2016
As seen in...Family Tree Magazine
Simon Wills' debut novel is a factually based, compelling drama about the early, far from easy, years of the Poole lifeboat service. As a maritime genealogist, the author is well placed to tell the tale of mistrust, worry and strife which followed in the wake of the launching of Poole's first lifeboat. With accusations of cowardice and genuine acts of heroism, this is a thumping good read that is made all the more poignant by the fact that, whilst some of the characters are not exact reproductions of the real-life men behind the early years of the lifeboat service in Poole, it is an engaging and accurate rendering of the damage which they suffered to their reputations and the ultimate vindication of the men and the concept of the lifeboat.Dorset Life
As seen in The Portsmouth News.The Portsmouth News
As seen in Bournemouth Daily Echo.Bournemouth Daily Echo
An extremely engaging novel; a gripping tale of life and drama at sea during one of the worst storms in British history.Your Family Tree
An inspiring tale of redemption.Who Do You Think You Are Magazine
An impressive blending of historical fact and great storytelling. Simon Wills has used his many years of experience as a maritime genealogist to produce an authentic and fast-paced fictional presentation of this enthralling story.Discover Your History
When Robert Brundle took the SS Harmatris to Russia with Convoy PQ8 he was 47 years of age. Both ship and master were veterans and had already sailed in convoys across the North Atlantic and to South Africa. The 5,395 ton coal fired ship, laden with 8,000 tons of armaments originally set sail on 27 November 1941 to join convoy PQ6 but encountered a fierce storm in which a lorry broke free in the hold and started a fierce blaze below decks. Despite valiant attempts to extinguish the fire the Harmatris was forced to return to Glasgow for repair. Having discharged its cargo, examined and repaired…By Michael Wadsworth
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