old lifeboat

And the Year was…….?

Sorry do not know who to credit but following – Judith Richardson






Dungeness Lifeboat Station in Kent guards the Channel from Folkestone to Rye Bay and was the first to receive the RNLI Shannon class lifeboat. The Morrell was named on 31 May 2014 by HRH The Princess Royal.

The station has a rich history.   In 1940, the Dungeness lifeboat was one of 19 that took part in the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk in northern France. Through the 1950’s the station was famous for its Lady Launchers – local women who helped haul the lifeboat down to the sea, and recover her.


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WWII B17 Flying Fortress Engine Surfaces

‘Sleepytime Girl’, an American World War II  B17 Flying Fortress bomber crashed into the sea off Dungeness on 24th April 1944, with only four of the ten crew surviving.

A few weeks ago Joe Thomas, a local fisherman, snagged something large and heavy on the seabed, just off Dungeness point. Joe then took two days to get the, as yet unidentified, object to the surface. What he had ‘caught’ turned out to be a one ton, 9 cylinder radial engine complete with three propeller blades still in tact. Mark Britnell, of the Brenzett Aeronautical Museum, has subsequently confirmed the engines identity as one of the four Wright/Cyclone engines, fitted to the Flying Fortress bombers.

‘Sleepytime Girl’ was on a daytime bombing raid on an aircraft factory over Oberpfaffenhofen in Germany. The aircraft suffered heavy flak damage over Germany and all four engines cut out, the crew dived the B17 to 5,000 feet and managed to restart the damaged engines. The crew then had a vote and opted to fly back towards the safety of Britain, rather than trying to make it to Switzerland, which was closer.
At 5,000 feet the B17 was a sitting duck and was repeatedly attacked over France, where two German ME-109’s further damaged the aircraft, knocking out three of the four engines.
Amazingly, the remaining crew managed to limp the aircraft back over The Channel on a single engine, where they ditched off Dungeness. Only four of the original crew of ten were left alive and were rescued by an Air Sea Rescue Walrus (an amphibious biplane). William Nesen, received a posthumous Purple Heart for his bravery.
It’s difficult to imagine how these incredibly brave men in their teens and early 20’s, could submit themselves to a virtual death sentence on a daily basis. If you’ve seen the film Memphis Belle, you will get some idea of the extraordinary sacrifices that were made, in order to free occupied and oppressed peoples and to ensure our own freedom and way of life.
Niko Miaoulis, owner of the Pilot Inn, here at Dungeness, has cleaned and mounted the engine which is now on permanent display, in tribute to all of the brave men and women that we owe so much to.
And thanks to Niko Miaoulis for the research and to Joe Thomas for his efforts in retrieving the engine.

It is a great pity that the ages of those who flew ‘for us’ are not mentioned, as to know they were, for the most part, 18 to 24 year olds adds to the sadness of their sacrifice.

From Official Records

Delivered Denver 1/6/43; Dow Field 13/7/43; Assigned 388BG Knettishall 3/8/43; transferred 550BS/385BG [SG-F] Gt Ashfield /43; Missing in Action Oberpfaffenhofen 24/4/44 with Bill Nesen, Co-pilot: Bernie Gruble, Navigator: Jim Delo, Flight engineer/top turret gunner: Lee Lance, Radio Operator: Fred Howland, Ball turret gunner: Joe McKenna (6 Killed in Action); Bombardier: Chester Desormeaux, Waist gunner: Evan Wells, Waist gunner: Murdoch McNeil,Tail gunner: Ernie Mitchell (4 Returned to Duty); enemy aircraft KOd three engines, ditched Channel off Dungeness, Kent, picked up by Air Sea Rescue Walrus. Missing Air Crew Report 4452 . SLEEPYTIME GIRL.

Quelle/Source: Dave Osborne, B-17 Fortress Master Log*

It would appear there were two B17’s with similar names and even on dedicated websites there are errors in their spelling.   Sleepy time GIRL and Sleepytime GAL, pictured below.   The latter is in the Air Mobility Museum. 


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The annual Lifeboat Christmas Craft Fayre will be held from 10am until 4pm on Sunday 12th November – at the Lifeboat Station.
Various craft stalls, tea and coffee and,probably, irresistible cakes – all on sale to raise much needed funds for the local lifeboat.
Do come along and give your support

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Dungeness RNLI Lifeboat – Awards and Reward

A couple of items, recently reviewed, regarding the Lifeboat that I feel need shouting about:-
The first being a celebration of the 90 years of service by two stalwarts of the station.
Judith Richardson, currently the Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer was presented the award for ‘Excellence in Volunteering’, having spent the past 50 years of her life associated with the local lifeboat. Judith’s late husband William was the previous Coxswain whose role was taken over by Stuart Adams who, on the same occasion was recognised for his 40 years of service – having joined at the age of 17.
Both were presented the awards at the annual blessing and re dedication service for the stations Shannon class lifeboat.
In attendance and providing beautiful music, as always, were the City of Canterbury Brass Band, who, in turn, were presented with a framed photograph of the lifeboat ‘The Morrell’ (and signed by the crew) in recognition of their 30 years attendance at the memorial meeting.

Also in the news – the lifeboat were presented with a cheque for £1000.00, donated by the family of the late John and Betty Blackwell, following the sale of a private collection of stamps and post cards – purchased by Niko and Rachel Miaoulis – proprietors of the Pilot Inn, here at Dungeness.
The cheque was presented by Ian Blackwell who is one of the volunteer head launchers/drivers.
For further information on this and all other related Lifeboat matters please visit their site – through the ‘Links’ page.

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Democracy in Action! Planning Decision

A public meeting was held last evening (Tuesday 29th August) in the Council offices in Folkestone to hear the arguments for and against the proposals for the redevelopment of the derelict radar site.

Consent was granted with only one Councillor against – from Lydd Council.

This council was the only objector. Their grounds being that the development ‘not in keeping’.

This comment, from anyone, does make my blood boil and, having been granted permission to speak at the hearing, I reminded all those present that one of the features that adds to the uniqueness of Dungeness is the fact that every single building on the Estate is different. So how can a modest innocuous little building (see post here) be out of keeping. A point seemingly agreed by all other committee members.

Anyway good to see democracy in action where mere members of the public can stand up and have their say?

Normally I do not vocally support specific planning applications – preferring to be a member of the silent majority who, by virtue of the fact they don’t complain, must be considered in favour.

On this occasion though I became incensed by comments from those against the motion, who do not live here or, the non-resident, weekender – in this case a very nice lady who at least had the guts to stand and express her views.

I am glad we live in a society where one can be heard!

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Lifeboat Open Day Success

Sunday 13th August. The annual Lifeboat Open Day was blessed with brilliant weather and with many hundreds of visitors, was a resounding success. Not only held as a fund raising event but an opportunity for the public to meet the men who, without recompense, put their lives at risk to rescue others in distress, at sea and to learn more about the service the RNLI provides – AND ALL FROM PUBLIC DONATIONS!!

The public were invited to part with money at the usual tombola stalls, hot dogs and drinks and shortly after 2pm witnessed a display of a rescue at sea which included an Air Sea Rescue helicopter based at the local Lydd airport.

The RH&DR (small railway) added an extra stop opposite the lifeboat station to give visitors the opportunity to park further afield and experience a ride on the miniature railway.

In all a great day and all in a great cause.

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Planning and other things

Some call it the ‘Decca Station’, others the ‘Marconi Site’ but whatever you call it it is a mess having bee allowed to deteriorate over the years.

As it is today – a wreck.

A planning application for its redevelopment, in keeping with what is already there, was finally rejected – after two years of negotiations with planners, Natural England and locals.

Local ‘here today gone tomorrow’ Councillors poked their oar in with such comments as ‘ugly’ ‘not in keeping’, ‘don”t like it’ etc. One non-resident owner started a petition against its ‘revival’, getting it is understood, 28 signatures. As there are only forty of us living here permanently and all those consulted over the proposals were in favour, it does beg the question as to where the complainants come from.

Anyway, the property has been purchased and the new owners have submitted plans for a modest little bungalow which is quite in keeping – whatever that term means. BUT the anti brigade are out in force to prevent it on the most pathetic of grounds – including one who seems to think digging a hole to insert a septic tank, will undo all the, alleged, good work Natural England do in preserving this hither to barren expanse of beach – but now an overgrown mass of grass weeds and brambles.

It is worth having a look at the comments posted on the Shepway District Councils planning application web site for the comments – most of which come from people who don’t live here.

As it would have been.

This is a private estate, not dedicated to the public and I suggest if anyone does not like the way we live here then keep away.

As if one small bungalow, sitting on the same footprint of a structure that is already there is going to have such a dramatic effect on the area is nonsensical.

As it is likely to be subject to planning consent.

It should be remembered that those, fortunately with the money, are prepared to replace structures here that will be around for another 100 years or so (or until the tide comes in and puts us back to boggy marsh) and the fact they may not be to everyone’s liking is irrelevant – as Dungeness is unique for many reasons including the sheer diversity of the structures (shacks) that have been built here over the years. There can be no argument that something is not in keeping as something HAS to be different to qualify to be IN keeping.

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Plein air at Dungeness


Today, local artist Paul Apps held a plein-air workshop, focusing on ‘off the beaten track’ locations at Dungenes.

The enthusiastic amateur artists attending the workshop painted interesting variations of these local scenes.

Check out Paul’s website for his plein-air portfolio of other local scenes.

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Good Knees Required

Good knees are required for some light house work locally.   In the lighthouse!

Weekly cleaning during the ‘open’ season’ and minor odd jobs as and when they are needed.

With over 160 steps to the top any applicant must be reasonably fit.

Applications by phone or though the ‘Old Lighthouse’ website – see ‘Links’

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