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Amazing link of wartime hero with RNLI lifeboat

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 30, 2013

  • Members of The Lizard lifeboat attend the funeral of Captain 'Sam' Beattie in 1975 – he had served as honorary secretary of their lifeboat station

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A remarkable coincidence linking the Lizard lifeboat, a rescue, and a famous wartime raid emerged when the RNLI looked into the 71st anni-versary of the attack.

Captain Stephen Halden "Sam" Beattie was commander of HMS Campbeltown when she sailed from Falmouth on March 27, 1942, packed with explosives, her mission to crash into the gates of a giant dry dock at St Nazaire in France.

Captain Beattie survived but was captured by the Germans. For his gallantry he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour.

After the war he settled in Mullion and went on to serve as honorary secretary of the Lizard lifeboat station from 1973 until his death in 1975.

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Coincidentally, in May of 1993 the lifeboat was called to rescue a yacht called Heptarchy, which was in difficulties 40 miles off The Lizard having lost its engine and sails.

John Harris, who was a Lizard crew member, recalled: "It took three hours to reach the Heptarchy, which had been trying to get back to Cornwall from France ahead of the storm. We were experiencing some of the biggest seas I have ever seen, with a rise and fall of more than 20ft. The Heptarchy was in a sorry state.

"We were about to pass a towline to them when we noticed one enormous wave coming towards us.

"We had to abandon the tow transfer in order to bring the lifeboat around to meet the wave head-on, and climbed what seemed like the side of a cliff to the top.

"On reaching the crest we looked down on the Heptarchy as if she was a toy in a tank. We managed to connect the tow and took six hours to reach the calm of the Helford River.

"Later we discovered that the ten people on board the Heptarchy included Captain Beattie's son Tim, his daughter-in-law and grandson."

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