Gower Shipwreck - SS Dunvegan

Name: SS Dunvegan
Nationality: British
Location: Pennard
Date of Wreck: 01/01/1916
Cargo: Unknown
Visible Remains: Memorial at St Cattwg's Church, Port Eynon

On January 1st 1916, the SS Dunvegan suffered engine failure and was driven ashore at Pennard in treacherous conditions. The Port Eynon RNLI crew were quickly alerted and put to sea in their lifeboat Janet. After battling their way along the coast they eventually sighted the Dunvegan surrounded by breaking waves beneath the cliffs. Coxswain Billy Gibbs decided that it was too dangerous to attempt to come alongside and was forced to anchor nearby in the hope that conditions improved. While they waited a land based rocket team managed to get a line aboard the Dunvegan and successfully evacuated her crew.

Seeing that there was no further risk to life the lifeboat weighed anchor and turned for home. At that moment a large wave caught the Janet on her starboard quarter, capsizing her and washing the crew overboard. Fortunately the boat righted itself and all but second coxswain William Eynon and lifeboatmen George Harry were able to drag themselves back in. As their shipmates searched frantically another wave once again capsized the Janet, this time sweeping Coxswain Gibbs away. Unable to find the missing or return to Port Eynon without their oars, the remaining ten men drifted towards Mumbles where they eventually made it ashore some thirty hours after they'd originally set out. In a tragic twist of fate the Mumbles lifeboat had passed by as events unfolded, but with no way of knowing what had befallen their comrades they were unable to help.

This tragedy marked the culmination of a terrible two weeks for shipping along the Glamorgan coast with a total of fifty three lives being lost. Following it the decision was made to close the Port Eynon lifeboat and its cover was transferred to larger stations nearby. Today a large memorial modelled after Billy Gibbs stands proudly in St Cattwg's churchyard, a stoic reminder of the risks some will go to in order to protect others. George Harry is also buried nearby.

11714 - Dunvegan Memorial, Port Eynon

11716 - Dunvegan Memorial, Port Eynon

11727 - Port Eynon Lifeboat Disaster Grave