The rescue of the SS Stolwijk’s crew by the Arranmore RNLI Lifeboat, December 1940.


NARRATOR:       If I may? I know this story well.


It is December the 6th, 1940, off the coast of Donegal.

The Steam Ship Stolwijk is part of a convoy, from Newfoundland to Liverpool.

Her rudder breaks in a fierce storm, and she is driven onto the rocks by the swell,

Her crew terrified by the winds, that howl like the hounds of hell.

Nine of those desperate men try to seek their own salvation.

But their lifeboat capsizes, and the deep, dark water is their damnation.

As the ship begins to break, the Stolwijk’s radio operator sends out a mayday call.

It is heard and heeded by the brave lifeboat men, on island of Arranmore.

The coxswain Jack Doyle tells his crew,

JACK:           Lads, we might not make it home.

NARRATOR:       But not a man refuses, and they launch the their lifeboat into the Atlantic foam.

The K.T.J.S. battles the blistering, roaring waves,

The last of the stricken Stolwijk’s crew, their lives to save.

Five and one half hours it takes them, for to make that fateful trip,

Until at last they come upon the vast hulk of the wrecked and listing ship.

CREW MAN:       I see them Jack, they’re at the stern, clinging to the rails and praying,

NARRATOR:       And Jack brings the KTJS around as the hurricane winds are wailing.

Four hours it takes with the breeches buoy to save those near-doomed men.

Until all the crew are aboard, and the KTJS turns about again.

Five more hours it takes them, to return to Arranmore

And at Burtonport they bring the rescued men ashore.

Medals for their bravery, for Coxswain, Mechanic and the courageous deck hands,

From the RNLI, and from the grateful Queen Wilhelmina, of the Netherlands.

So if you are ever crossing those waves, pray, pause for a while

And remember their names with pride, the brave lifeboat men of Arranmore isle.

VOICES:         Jack Boyle, Teague Ward, Johnny Byrne, Phil Byrne, Neill Byrne, Brian Gallagher, Paddy O’Donnell, Joe Rodgers and Phil Boyle. Heroes all.

POSTIE:         The RNLI is still here. Manned by volunteers, ready at a moments notice to brave the North Atlantic storms and rescue sailors, no matter where they hail from.


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