The Coastguard Cutter Vol6 No2

The Coastguard Cutter
February 08 Edition
Vol 6 No. 02.

"The Lady Margaret"


Hello Friend,

The Coastguard who fought at Trafalgar. An interesting item about a Royal Navy sailors career before he joined the Coastguard service and is now interred in a graveyard at Ballyheigue in Ireland.


Ballyheigue Graveyard, St.James Church Co.Kerry.

John Haswell

Battle of TrafalgarThere is a section of the north-west corner of the graveyard devoted to the families of the coastguard, and there is one striking memorial to a man named John Haswell late a Commissioned Boatman in the coastguard. who died on the 15th of September 1877, in the County of Kerry at the great age of  85.  He was one of the few remaining survivors of Trafalgar. Deceased entered the Navy in 1803 at Chatham. Later he served under Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar when he was on board the Revenge, under Captain Sir Robert Moorsom., Revenge was stationed eighth in the leeward column commanded by Admiral Collingwood, between HMS Polyphemus and HMS Swiftsure, but was signalled to sail forward in support of HMS Royal Sovereign and because of her speed she broke into the enemy column earlier than most of the other ships. She became entangled in the bowsprit of the French ship L'Aigle (74 guns), and discharged two carefully measured broadsides into her before she broke free. She received a tremendous fire and was run on board by one of the largest ships present, the Spanish Principe de Asturias (112 guns) which placed her bow across the stern of Revenge to try and board her by the bowsprit.

The attack was repelled by the marines and fire from the carronade on the poop, which discharged canister shot that exploded in a hail of musket balls. In addition she had three French ships on her until HMS Dreadnought and HMS Thunderer came to her relief.Also he took part in the capture of four French frigates off Rochfort; Basque Roads; destruction of two French frigates at Lahogue; the expedition to Flushing and The Battle of TrafalgarWalcherein; the siege of Cadiz and the blockading of Venice.He also served in the American squadron and was finally paid off at Chatham in 1817. After some years spent in the merchant and transport service he joined the Revenue crusers, afterwards entering the Coastguard,  and received an injury to his right hand in an affray with smugglers during the execution of his duty at Lulworth Station, Dorset. He served his country in the naval and revenue service for upwards of 40 years.

He failed to get a medal for Trafalgar, in consequence of his late application his claim was not admitted. He wrote a petition on behalf of his son in 1871, requesting a position in the navy for him:  “ I humbly lay my case before Admiral Heathcote trusting that he will take a “Sailor” of the old times into his kind consideration and place his poor boy into that position which would gladden the heart of one of Nelson’s British tars.” He lived on the Green in a house with an expansive view over his beloved ocean. “It was a pleasure for one to spend an hour in his company in his house at Ballyheigue,” went his obituary in the Kerry Evening Post, “which is as neat as any man-o-war, and Colonel Crosbie of the Castle and members of his family constantly visited him.”  

 He was interred on Tuesday the 18th.ult, in Ballyheigue Churchyard. The Coastguard from the neighbouring station decorated his coffin with the flag under which he had served for the greater part of his life.

Submitted by Bryan MacMahon of Stillorgan Wood, Co.Dublin.


From the Irish Folklore Commission stories collected from local children in 1938 I found the following account of shipwrecks and lifesaving;

“The Weaver Bell came in at the Valley, Achill, Co.Mayo, on 7 Feb. 1877. When she was coming in Black Jack, a Coastguard, came down to the strand with a big red lamp which he kept waving to warn her to keep out or else if she came in on the rocks she would get smashed. There were eight of a crew on board and thanks to him they were all saved”


'William of Dublin’  October 14th.1881.


The schooner “William of Dublin” bound from Swansea to Ardrossan with a cargo of coal and having a crew of five sought shelter in Skerries Bay. A gale was blowing from the North West. When the weather moderated for a time three of the crew of the schooner came ashore. Shortly afterwards the wind increasd and the schooner made for the harbour, but was blown beyond the point of shelter and stranded. The two remaining crew were in danger. A rocket firing apparatus was put in use but not successful. The Laura Platt ,lifeboat, with Mr.Thomas Elmore, Chief officer of the Coastguard, on board proceeded to the schooner and brought the two men ashore.


Skerries R.N.L.I. News.


Killed by Lightning 100 Years ago.(1899)

On Tuesday Dr.Wm.Seaton, Coroner of West Clare held an inquest at the Kilkee Coastguard Station on the remains of Richard Mercer, who was killed by lightning that morning while on duty.

Daniel Kerslake said he was a Coastguard and stationed at Kilkee, he knew the deceased. At four o’clock that morning the witness was relieved by Mercer who then went on duty. He left him at about ten minutes past four and next saw him at 7.25 a.m. Mercer was dead and lying inside the kitchen floor.

The jury found that the deceased was killed by lightning while on duty at Kilkee and they added that they were of the opinion that the accident was due to the result of the failure of the lightning conductor on the flagstaff to do its duty.

The poor fellow was interred today at Kilkee, the funeral being attended by Coastguards from all the local stations and a large number of civilians. The sad fatality had thrown quite a gloom over Kilkee where the deceased was held in much esteem.

Ref; Clare Champion  19th February 1999

Nine Coastguards rescued, Kilrush. Co.Clare. 1857.

Voted reward of £2 to four men who put off in a boat, and rescued nine Coastguard men and a boy who had been capsized from their boat at the entrance of Kilrush Creek on the 27 May last.

Ref; R.N.L.I. The Life-Boat. 1857.

The following is an extract from A. Day and P. Williams Ordnance Survey Memoirs of Ireland, Parishes of Donegal, Donegal 11, Vol. 39, Belfast, QUB, (P. 64),  The writer is referring to the parish of Glencolumbkille.Co. Donegal.

“There is neither lawyer, attorney, magistrate or policeman in the parish...... All the inhabitants speak Irish. All the Protestants and some of the Roman Catholics speak the English language, which in fact is increasing since the establishment of the Coast Guard who in general don't speak Irish”.

 Thanks to Denis Mayne.

Nautical  Terms

CUT and RUN.
If a captain of a smaller ship encountered a larger enemy vessel, he might decide that discretion was the beter part of valor, and so he would order the crew to cut the lashings on all the sails and run away before the wind. ther sources indicate "Cut and Run" meant to cut the anchor cable and sail off in a hurry.
This refferred to a ship's keel  touching the bottom and getting right off again.

 Revenue Fleet NewsRevenue Fleet News
Wreck on Arklow Bank. 1867.

On yesterday (Sun.) evening the crew of a Welsh schooner, laden with coal, arrived in Wicklow Harbour in a fishing smack belonging to Arklow having left their vessel on the Arklow Banks, where they were obliged to desert her in order to save their lives. Her Majesty’s gun-boat ‘Waiting’, which is at present lying in the Bay of Wicklow, weighed anchor about half past seven in the evening, having on board Captain Barclay, Inspecting Commander of the Coast Guards, and at once proceeded to the Arklow Banks for the purpose of saving the vessel. After being engaged all night in the work, their efforts proved useless, and the ‘Waiting’ returned to Wicklow Bay at an early hour this morning. When she was leaving the Banks the schooner was rapidly breaking into pieces.

Ref; The Irish Times 23 July 1867.


UK CG NewsCoastguard News from England

Bravery of a Coastguardman. 1899

Coverack HarbourA sad accident occurred on Saturday last at the little fishing village of Coverack, near Falmouth, resulting in the death of a fisherman named James Barker. Barker and his partner Hosking had gone to their store pot for crabs, and as they were returning a running sea took the boat on the rocks, and both men were washed into the water. Philip Guy, one of the Coastguards on duty, seeing their danger, ran to the spot and was in the water almost as soon as the boat capsized. He succeeded in turning Hoskin, who could not swim, on his back and for five minutes or more supported him while the heavy rollers swept over them again and again. Even when a boat arrived Guy sang out to its occupants to leave him and to rescue Barker, who Coverack CG Cottagesappeared to be drowning. After Barker had been got into the boat, Guy was at last relieved of his burden, but not before both men were almost exhausted. Baker did not recover consciousness. To Guy’s promptness in seeing the danger, as well as to his courage and skill, Hosking undoubtedly owes his life.


Reference; The Times, London  16 August 1899.

A Humiliating Spectacle. 1884

During the past few days a large quantity of wreckage has been washed ashore along the coast to the   East of Brighton, between Blackrock, Newhaven, and Seaford, and from portions being found with the name ‘Simla’ upon them, it is believed the wreckage comes from that vessel, which was in collision a few days ago off the Isle of Wight. Among other articles were a dozen 36 gallon casks of wine and several casks of Burton Ale. A large concourse of persons assembled during Friday purloining various articles, and broaching the casks. An extraordinary scene of drunkenness followed, numbers of men and boys lying about helplessly intoxicated, many of them insensible. One boy of 15 and two others were found to be so bad that they were removed to the Sussex County Hospital, and were detained, the stomach pump being brought into requisition. Twenty persons were found helplessly drunk shortly after 5 o’clock on Friday afternoon, and had not other persons and several Coastguards arrived on the spot a number of them most certainly have been drowned. They were removed to the Coastguard station, where a fire was lighted, and they were kept till morning, when a portion of them having recovered were permitted to take their departure. A man named Mockford, who was found in a cave on Saturday, having apparently being lying in a state of intoxication since Friday night, has since died.

Ref; The Times. London  4 February 1884.

Coming in March Edition.

 Coastguard Arms





With more and more people enjoying the beach and sea, the RNLI has never been busier - rescuing an average of 22 people every day. It now costs over £330,000 a day to run this essential service - to train their volunteers and maintain their craft and equipment. So however you choose to support them, every penny really counts.

To donate to the RNLI, simply call 0800 543210 or visit
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