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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 07:02 GMT
Lifeboat hero tribute 50 years on
Ieuan Bateman
Ieuan Bateman was 21 when he lost his life at sea
Relatives of a lifeboatman who drowned while rescuing eight French fishermen will join an RNLI crew to mark the 50th anniversary of his death.

Wreaths will be laid off the west Wales coast near where Ieuan Bateman's body was recovered after the rescue in 1956.

The 21-year-old was on the St David's lifeboat Swn-y-Mor which saved eight trawlermen off Skokholm Island.

He was washed overboard on the way back to shore and given a posthumous award by the French government.

His close relatives, including his brothers John and Byron, will attend the service 50 years to the day that he died.

John Bateman said: "In those days you joined the lifeboat when you were 15 and then you made your way up on to the crew.

It was unusual for car lights to come down to our little cottage... it was the police and the head launcher to tell us that that my brother was missing
John Bateman, brother

"I remember I was on my home from school when the maroons went off. It was really bad conditions."

The trawler - Notre Dame de Fatima - had sent a distress signal about 4.5 miles from Skokholm.

The lifeboat crew were able to remove all of its crew.

"When my father came home we went down to the station and stayed there until we were told the lifeboat had taken off eight survivors and was headed back to Milford."

The family returned to their farmhouse believing his brother was safe and went to bed.

St David's lifeboat manager Jeffrey Rees with Ronald, Byron and John Bateman
Mr Bateman's brothers and crew members will take part in the service

"It was unusual for car lights to come down to our little cottage in the early hours of the morning but it was the police and the head launcher to tell us that that my brother was missing," he added.

His body was recovered two days later at West Dale Bay.

France posthumously awarded Ieuan Bateman its lifesaving silver medal and he was also recognised by the French Lifeboat Society.

Despite the tragedy his three younger brothers were not put off joining the lifeboat crew at St David's and have completed more than 100 years of service between them.

John Bateman said Wednesday would be an emotional day for his family.

"In St David's we are never short of crew - it's saving lives and doing something for the community."

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15 Jun 05 |  South West Wales
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