Geddes Plaque

In 1914, Peterhead Lifeboat "Alexander Tulloch" was lost along with 3 crew while attempting to save the trawler "Tom Tit". This plaque was awarded by the sons of two of the men rescued that day.

The Hull registered Tom Tit
The RNLB Alexander Tulloch, smashed upon the rocks
This is the John Ryburn, a 43ft Watson Class lifeboat just like the Alexander Tulloch. John Ryburn came to Peterhead as the tragic Alexander Tulloch's replacement
Presentation of the Geddes Plaque

Station History

Previous Lifeboats

Stories and Testimonials

The story of the Hull Trawler "Tom Tit"

Extracted from 'The Buchan Observer - Tuesday 29th December, 1914'.

A calamitous disaster in which three gallant Peterhead fishermen lost their lives trying to save those of others occurred at Peterhead on Saturday forenoon. The tragedy was occasioned by a Hull trawler the Tom Tit, running ashore in a fierce southerly gale on the rock called "The Horseback," situated within a hundred yards of the entrance to the Peterhead South Harbour and it recalls to the older inhabitants of the town a similar tragedy which took place about forty years ago when a Norwegian schooner was wrecked on exactly the same place and the Peterhead men who attempted the rescue of the crew lost their lives.

Late on Friday night a strong southerly wind arose and increased in intensity until it blew with hurricane force during the night and on Saturday morning. The sea running in the South Bay on Saturday forenoon was exceptionally high, the waves breaking on the north shore of the bay and the harbour breakwater with overwhelming force, and sweeping far up the strand. To any vessel seeking shelter the harbour entrance was extremely difficult and dangerous.

Shortly before eleven o'clock forenoon the Hull trawler Tom Tit was observed making for the South harbour entrance. Her passage through the bay was watched by the people on shore with great anxiety, as it was feared that they could not make the harbour with wind and sea sweeping right across the entrance. The fears of the onlookers were realised, as the vessel was forced on to "The Horseback," the mountainous sea sweeping over her and threatening the imminent destruction of vessel and crew.

By this time a great crowd had congregated on shore, and there was gallant hearts in it ready to risk their lives for the sake of those in dire danger. One of the first was James Graneham, who attempted to swim from the shore with a line tied round his waist, but the surging waves beat him back, and he had to be pulled to shore. Lieut Currie, a Naval officer, also tried to swim out to the vessel, but was dashed upon a rock and had to give up.

Meantime the motor lifeboat Alexander Tulloch whose headquarters are within 50 yards of the scene of the wreck, had in face of the tremendous waves, managed to put out to the bay its task of trying to save the shipwrecked crew was a extremely trying one, a hurricane wind on a lee shore having to be encounter before the stranded vessel could be approached, The lifeboat succeeded in making the harbour entrance with the purpose of floating down upon the Tom Tit, but before this could be accomplished a tremendous sea caught the boat, carried her a considerable distance westwards, and dashed her upon the rocks near Corporation Bathes, which were being swept every moment by mountainous seas.

A scene of awful excitement ensued, which was witnessed by many hundreds of those on shore less than a hundred yards from the point where the lifeboat crew were battling for their lives. When the boat struck the rocks three of the crew, John Strachan, Robert Slessor, and Andrew Geddes, jumped clear into the sea, and with the assistance of men who had clambered over the rocks were hauled out of danger, but the other members of the crew, nine in number were washed out of the boat into the boiling waters of the bay, and were rapidly carried along by the Smith Embankment. William Cameron a young man, who got entangled in the boat, was rescued in an injured condition, and a man supposed to be David Strachan was washed into a pool in the rocks known as "Bobbie's Hole" and Lieutenant Wells, a Naval man jumped into the water several times grasped the body, but it was carried away by the heavy backwash. Strachan was floating with his head downwards, and probably had been rendered unconscious by coming to contact with the rocks when the boat struck.

Meantime many helpers had hurried to the south end of the Smith Embankment to which the drowning men were being carried by the waves. James Cameron coxswain of the lifeboat was seen floating on his back and grasping an oar, and the rescuing party succeeded in picking him up and conveying them with all haste to a house in Kirk Street. James Imlach, a young fisherman residing at 8 Stuart Street with a rope tied around his waist, gallantly jumped from the embankment, and in exceedingly trying and dangerous circumstances, grasped William Buchan, and swam with him to the Embankment steps, where both were lifted from the water and conveyed home. Buchan was greatly exhausted Imlach severely injured, but both are progressing favourably. Another member of crew was washed ashore with a lifebelt on, and he was carried into a house in Charlotte Street. James Geddes jun. a powerful young fisherman was next pulled from the raging waves. His body was also encased in a lifebelt but he was quite unconscious. Dr Gillespie and Dr. Smith did everything to restore animation by artificial respiration, but it was beyond their power. The body was taken to a relatives house in Merchant Street, close to the spot where the tragedy occurred. The poor fellow died under the eyes of several relatives, and his father broke down when he knew his gallant son was beyond human aid.

By this time it was found that all the crew of twelve had been accounted for, except David Strachan and Thomas Adams, both residing at Roanheads. Three brave Peterhead fishermen have thus sacrificed their lives to save others, and quite a gloom has been cast over the fishing community by the unexpected and sudden calamity. The three men drowned were in the prime of life, being all about 30 years of age. Strachan and Adams were married, and leave wives and families; while James Geddes, jun. resided with his father James Geddes. skipper of the local tugboat Flying Scud. Geddes was descended from a seafaring family, and a prophetic circumstances is that one of his brothers was drowned about a year ago from the streamer Inveresk.

On Saturday afternoon the wind veered to the west, and the gale subsided. A strict outlook was kept on the south shore, and the body of Thomas Adams was washed ashore and conveyed to his house in Roanheads. The crew of the Tom Tit were all safety landed in the breeches buoy.

The motor lifeboat has been completely smashed. It was a comparatively new boat having been built two years ago at a cost of 3000. She was one of the best types of lifeboat in Scotland.

The Tom Tit lies where she stranded and has become a complete wreck.

The Lost and Saved

The following are the names of the men who were lost:

Thomas Adams, 64 Roanheads, who leaves a wife and family.
David Murray Strachan, 71 Roanheads, who leaves a wife and four of a family.
James Geddes, jun. 47 Roanheads, unmarried.

Thoses who were saved:

James Cameron, (Coxswain) 59 Roanheads.
John Strachan, 39 North Street.
Robert Slessor, jun. 29 Roanheads.
John Davidson, engineer, 7 Threadneedle Street.
William Buchan, 31 Roanheads.
Peter Geddes, 2 Seagate.
Andrew McLean, 66 Roanheads.
William Cameron, 28 James Street.
Charles Cameron, 28 James Street.

Yesterday the scene of the disaster was visited by a large number of spectators. The gale has entirely subsided and a nights sharp frost had quietened the sea. The stranded trawler remains fast on the rock, and the battered motor lifeboat is lying near the spot where she struck. The body of David Murray has not yet been found. The funerals of the other two will take place to-day.

The words of the plaque:

In memory of the three lifeboat men
who lost their lives on the
26th December, 1914
David Strachan
Thomas Adams Geddes
James Geddes (Junior)
The Lifeboat "Alexander Tulloch"
was launched in a severe south east gale
on service to the Hull Trawler "Tom Tit"
which had grounded on the horseback rock
that lay close to the harbour entrance.

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