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Last Updated: Monday, 23 April 2007, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
Tribute for 1947 Mumbles disaster
The wreckage of the Samtampa
The Samtampa broke into three on the rocks at Sker Point
A special service has taken place in Swansea to remember the crew of the Mumbles lifeboat who perished trying to rescue a vessel exactly 60 years ago.

Eight lifeboatmen were killed with the 39 crew of the Samtampa which ran aground on Sker Point near Porthcawl.

The Duke of Kent, the president of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, paid tribute at Monday's ceremony.

It was the second service to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the maritime disaster, one of Wales's worst.

The 7,000 tonne steamer Samtampa went down after its crew - en route from Middlesbrough to Newport - made the decision to stop at Sker Point in the face of a 70-mile-an-hour gale.

The cables were unable to hold the ship in the bad weather and it broke up into three on the rocks in just 80 minutes.

The Mumbles lifeboat was found on rocks upside down
It was devastating, not just for our family but for the whole community
Maureen Donald

It is believed the Mumbles lifeboat was struck by an exceptionally high wave and the boat turned over as she went to the aid of the stricken Samtampa.

Members of today's lifeboat crew joined relatives of the eight volunteers who perished on 23 April, 1947 on the Edward Prince of Wales boat at All Saints Church in the village.

Among the relatives was Maureen Donald, who lost her father, uncle and cousins in the tragedy when she was just 10.

"I was playing in the garden and it was just like any other call-out, he had to go.

"He borrowed someone's bike to head to the station, he waved and I remember him laughing as he said 'Goodbye darling'," Mrs Donald said.

"That night he didn't come home. I woke in the morning to hear voices downstairs and my mother screaming.

The stained glass window at All Saints Church in Mumbles
The lifeboat crew are remembered in a window at All Saints Church

"She came up to my bedroom and told me my father had drowned.

"It was devastating, not just for our family but for the whole community.

"There was a hushed silence over the village, there wasn't a soul around that morning as people tried to come to terms with what had happened."

Her son and son-in-law are RNLI volunteers at the Mumbles station.

"It was their decision to join the RNLI and I'm very proud of them for that. That doesn't stop me worrying and each time they go out I say a little prayer for them.

After the service on Monday, members of the Mumbles and Porthcawl RNLI crews sailed to Sker Point and rededicate a plaque which has been restored after being vandalised in honour of the volunteers who died.

Wreaths were also scattered at the point where the capsized lifeboat was found.

An exhibition about the disaster has also opened at Ty Hanes - the Mumbles Local History Centre.

"The seas were mountainous and yet the small lifeboat went out into the teeth of that gale"

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02 Aug 04 |  South West Wales
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08 Nov 06 |  South West Wales
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