A number of men from the ship attempted to swim for the shore. It looked deceptively near, but the current sweeps from the east to west which meant that the swimmers were carried almost parallel with The Scar, towards the piers, and the actual distance to be swum was trebled.
George Peart was one of the volunteers who waded out from the rocks repeatedly to help swimmers ashore or to recover bodies. Without the aid of a line and regardless of his personal safety, he spent many hours in the icy water, in constant danger of being dashed on to the fearsome pointed rocks. When asked how many lives he saved he said he’d lost count
Canon Gwyder’s body was one of those recovered, but Nicholson’s was never found.
Ambulance men and medical staff were kept busy treating swimmers for exposure, shock and lacerations inflicted by the rocks. There were prodigious attempts at resuscitation and in one case artificial respiration was applied for five and a half hours before the man recovered.
Volunteer stretcher bearers had to climb the steep cliff and Spa Ladder to the emergency hospital in Mrs. Agar’s hut.
Two sailors attempted to get ashore on a raft they had built out of wood from the ship. They succeeded, but not until they had been carried the two miles to Upgang.
Others, including a boy who tried to make it on a hen coop, were not so lucky and were carried out to sea again as the current rounded the bay.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981