Services of The J.W. Archer at Teesmouth Lifeboat Station
Extracts from “ The History of the Teesmouth Lifeboats” by JEFF MORRIS
James Thompson had taken over as Coxswain at the beginning of January 1925 and his first service in command of the lifeboat - and indeed, the first service launch by the new lifeboat - took place on August 25th. 1925. The "J.W. Archer" was launched at 9-15 a.m., to the aid of two men in a motor launch, which had been undertow back to Hartlepool, but had broken adrift in heavy seas and a north-easterly gale. The two men were rescued and their boat taken in-tow to Hartlepool.
After the Coast guard had reported sighting a fishing vessel showing a distress signal, 1 mile north of the lookout, on August 20th. 1926, the "J.W. Archer" was launched at 4-50 p.m. The casualty was the "Lord Robert’s", of Redcar, her crew being rescued by another fishing vessel shortly before the lifeboat reached her. The lifeboat-men took the disabled boat in-tow and she was placed on a mooring near the lifeboat- house.
In the early hours of December 26th. 1928, the schooner "Orne", of Svendborg, ran aground on the Redcar Rocks, in rough seas and a westerly gale.' The "J.W. Archer" was launched at 1-45 a.m., but on reaching the schooner, it was found that she had re-floated and her crew had dropped anchor. However, as the anchors were dragging, the lifeboat stood-by until a tug arrived and took the vessel in-tow, the schooner, which was leaking badly, being beached just inside the breakwater.
The Honorary Secretary of the Teesmouth Station. Mr. W.M. Friskney and the Honorary Secretary of the Redcar Lifeboat Station, Capt. J.T. Shaw, both went out in the lifeboat on this service and the R.N.L.I. later sent each of them a 'Letter of Thanks'. When the "J.W. Archer" was called out again on December 31st. that year, on what proved to be a fruitless service, to the s. s. “Ingleby” . Mr. Friskney again accompanied the lifeboat-men and, in recognition of his help on these two occasions, the R.N.L.I. presented him with a pair of inscribed binoculars.
The "J.W. Archer" was launched at 1-15 a.m. on March 17th. 1929, after the Coastguard had reported that the s. s. "Trentwood", of Middlesborough, was in difficulties, with engine-failure, nearly 2 miles northeast of Skinningrove. The lifeboat-men found the disabled vessel at anchor and so returned ashore to summon the assistance of a tug, which eventually towed the steamer to safety.
On February 24th. 1933, while the R.N.L.I.'s Chief Inspector of Lifeboats, Commd. Drury and the District Inspector, Lt. Commd. Philip Vaux, were visiting the Teesmouth Lifeboat Station, the "J.W. Archer" was called out on service to a steamer, both men accompanying the crew on this service. However, shortly after the lifeboat had been launched, the steamer “Sheaf Arrow”s 'SOS' was canceled and so the lifeboat was recalled to her station.
After an RAF plane came down into the sea off the Tees, on September 27th. 1933, the Teesmouth and Hartlepool Lifeboats were called out to search for possible survivors, but none were found.
Jack Thompson took over as Coxswain at the beginning of April 1935. On the evening of June 25th. 1935, four men and a woman put out from West Hartlepool in the sailing boat "Nancy", to go fishing. But by 2-30 a.m. the following morning, they still had not returned and a very dense fog had come down. The "J.W. Archer" was launched at 3-15 a.m. and found the missing boat 30 minutes later. A towline was secured and the boat and her occupants, were towed to West Hartlepool, the lifeboat returning to her station at 5-00 a.m.
In very heavy seas and a severe northeasterly gale, on the afternoon of February 12th. 1938, the destroyer H.M.S. "Walrus", with only a skeleton crew on board, broke away from the tug which had been towing her. The "J.W. Archer" was launched at 5-10 p.m. and headed out over the Bar, then turned south to look for the destroyer. But the lifeboat-men were unable to find her in the inky blackness, despite a long and exhausting search, the lifeboat eventually putting into Hartlepool at 9 0' clock the following morning, desperately low on fuel, Coxswain Thompson having decided not to risk attempting to cross the dangerous Bar at the entrance to the Tees again, the lifeboat eventually being brought back to her boathouse on the 16th., when the weather had moderated. Meanwhile, the "Walrus" had come ashore north of Scarborough and the 4 men on board got ashore safely in their own boat. The Honorary Secretary of the Teesmouth Station, Mr. Friskney and Dr. G. Young, a member of the Redcar Station Committee, had gone out in the Teesmouth Lifeboat on this service and the R.N.L.I. sent each of them a 'Letter of Appreciation' for their help.
When the Hull trawler "Matabele", with a crew of 18, ran aground near the North Gare Breakwater, in the early hours of December 18th. 1938, the "J.W. Archer" was launched at 2-00 a.m. In rough seas and a very strong south-easterly wind, they got alongside the trawler and rescued all 18 men, landing them at Middlesborough, the lifeboat returning to her station at 5-00 a. m.