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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2007, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Relatives remember sea disaster
The wreckage of the Samtampa
The Samtampa broke into three on the rocks at Sker Point
Relatives of some of the 47 people who died in one of Wales' worst maritime disasters are marking the 60th anniversary of the tragedy.

All 39 on board the Samtampa perished when the ship ran aground at Sker Point and the eight lifeboat men from Mumbles sent to their rescue were also killed.

Saturday's service in Porthcawl will be followed by another in Mumbles on Monday, the disaster's anniversary.

Wreaths will also be placed at sea near the rocks where the ship came to rest.

John David, who helped organised Saturday's service at All Saints Church in Porthcawl, said despite the passing years the disaster was still remembered.

He was a 17-year-old trainee with the coastguard team on the night of the ship ran aground and recalls: "The conditions really were dreadful.

The Mumbles lifeboat was found on rocks upside down
We knew the Mumbles lifeboat had launched - but we never saw it until it was found upside down on the rocks
John David, coastguard trainee in 1947

"The Samtampa had left Middlesbrough and was coming up the Bristol Channel to Newport where it was going to dry dock.

"The was a storm with strong winds and seas and she tried to drop anchor but lost them both.

"She struck the end of Sker Point - half a mile either side and she would have beached on sand - and by the time we got there she was already starting to break up.

"We could see some of the crew still on the bridge then the bow snapped and broke off and lifted right on top of the rocks.

"The ship broke into three very large sections and the rocks just ripped the bottom out.

"As the tide went out we walked down to the ship - I think we saw five bodies on the way - but there were no survivors."

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

Mr David said many of the men on board were from the north east of England and some of their relatives were travelling to south Wales for the service.

On Monday, attention will turn to Mumbles with a second church service in the old fishing village.

"We knew the Mumbles lifeboat had launched - but we never saw it until it was found upside down on the rocks nearby," added Mr David.

Present day members of the lifeboat crew will join relatives of the eight men who lost their lives on the Edward Prince of Wales boat at All Saints Church in the village.

There is a stained glass window in the church as a permanent reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by the crew.

The current lifeboat will then sail to Sker Point where wreaths will be laid at sea.

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

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