Centenary memorial service to mark day Scouts’ lives were lost
09:36 28 May 2014
The centenary of a tragic drowning will be marked this weekend as six Sea Scouts who died in a Somerleyton boating accident are remembered.
The tragedy will be recalled during a special service at St Mark’s Church in Oulton Broad at 3pm on Sunday. But ahead of the event organisers want to hear from anyone who may have photographs or who knew of anyone involved.
Four Sea Scouts and two Scout masters from the 1st Carlton (East Suffolk) troop died in the sailing boat disaster on the River Waveney at Somerleyton on June 1, 1914. The six Scouts were returning home from a week’s camp on the Duke’s Head hills when their boat capsized.
They were scoutmaster T Lory, a Lowestoft solicitor, James Lewington, 34, an ex-naval instructor, assistant scoutmaster Sidney Scarle, 18, and scouts Reginald Middleton, 14, Arthur Beare, 14, and Sidney Thrower, 16.
Another Sea Scout, 16-year-old Stanley Wood, was the only survivor. He managed to get clear and saved himself by swimming ashore.
He is believed to have died two years later at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War.
Details of the accident published at the time state that the Scouts had started to row down the river on the return journey to Oulton Broad.
It was reported to be “blowing half a gale” as the Scouts started to hoist the sail and the boat had scarcely got under way again when a sudden gust of wind caught it and their craft capsized. The Scouts were all pinned under the sail and had no chance of escaping.
Three holidaymakers on a nearby yacht went to help, along with support from the nearby Duke’s Head Hotel and a local doctor. Sadly the rescue effort was to no avail and the first body was recovered after 30 minutes.
When the funeral was held for the six victims a few days later at St Mark’s Church it attracted a large congregation.
But this turnout was small in comparison to the crowds that joined more than 300 Scouts to line the route as the funeral cortege passed in six horse-drawn hearses from the church to the cemetery at Carlton Colville. A memorial stone was installed at the cemetery soon after and can be seen today.
Centenary memorial service co-ordinator and Group Scout Leader at 1st Oulton Broad Sea Scout group, Ray Hawkes, said: “The Scouting movement in Lowestoft district will remember the tragic accident that happened 100 years ago at the special service.
“During the service we will also unveil a new plaque in the church that also records the names of the Scouts.”
Photographs and information supplied courtesy of Christopher Brooks, via Chronicles of Lowestoft Scouting 1908–1939.
Details on the tragedy can go to firstname.lastname@example.org
■ Do you have a Lowestoft story? Email email@example.com