Scouts gather to remember six who lost their lives in tragic boating accident 100 years ago
Around a hundred people gathered in Oulton Broad today to mark the centenary of a tragic boating accident which claimed the lives of six Sea Scouts.
A special service attended by Scouts from Oulton Broad, Lowestoft and Carlton Colville, along with Waveney MP Peter Aldous and county commissioner Jenny Mullan, recalled the tragic events of June 1, 1914, which led to the drowning of four Seas Scouts and two Scout masters from the 1st Carlton (East Suffolk) troop.
The Scouts were returning home from a week-long camping trip on the Duke’s Head Hills when their boat capsized on the River Waveney at Somerleyton.
The service, at St Mark’s Church in Oulton Broad, was followed by the unveiling of a new plaque recording the names of the Scouts who drowned as well as a display of photographs and documents from the tragedy in the church hall.
Revd Canon Ian Bentley, who led the service, said: “It is one hundred years to the day that this tragic accident happened and as many of you know the funerals of all six men were held in this church.
“Today we remember those who lost their lives but we also celebrate the continued work of our young people through the scouting movement. This terrible thing happened but nonetheless we continue.”
The six who lost their lives were scoutmaster Thornton 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, although it is believed he died two years later at the Battle of the Somme during the First World War.
The service was particularly touching for David Greenacre, group leader of the 2nd Carlton Colville Scouts, whose great uncle was Sidney Scarle, along with Alan Foreman, leader of the 1st Oulton Broad Sea Scouts, whose grandmother Vera was the sister of Reginald Middleton. Mr Foreman said his grandmother was only four-years-old when she lost her brother.
He said: “It was a lovely service and my nanna would have been very chuffed if she was here because she always used to talk about it.
“It was an accident that no one could foresee, but I think that if they are looking down on us they will be pleased that we haven’t forgotten them.”
The plaque was unveiled at the back of the church by Scout Chaplain Reverend Roger Key. It was followed by a moment of silence and the Scout Promise.
Waveney MP Mr Aldous said: “I thought it was a very moving service and the atmosphere was just right.
“It was an opportunity to reflect on what was a very sad and tragic event but it also enabled our local scout groups to participate and give us hope for the future of scouting.”