19th of December 1981, a cargo-carrying coaster, the Union Star, was on her maiden voyage between Holland and Ireland that stormy December day. The eight people on board were Henry Moreton, her captain, a further 4 crew members, and Moreton's wife along with her two teenage daughters. A few miles off Land's End, near the Wolf Rock lighthouse, the ship's engine cut out and Moreton put out the news on the radio.
As the storm worsened, and still unable to start the engines, Moreton put out a distress call to the Falmouth coastguard as his ship was washed increasingly closer to the jagged rocks off the southern Cornish coast. In gusts of nearly 100 miles an hour and average wind of around 80, a Sea King helicopter was dispatched from RNAS Culdrose but, such was the ferocious state of the sea, it was unable to lift a single soul to safety.
The Solomon Browne, the wooden 47 lifeboat stationed at Penlee Point raced down its slipway into the raging seas of Mounts Bay. Aboard were eight men, all volunteers from the village of Mousehole, under the command of coxswain Trevelyan Richards. He had chosen his crew carefully, taking the most able seamen and, crucially, only one member of each family; as was the norm on perilous call outs such as this.
In the darkness and chaos of the enormous swell four people eventually managed to clamber aboard, however it was the lifeboat men's selfless return to rescue the remaining four that proved fatal. It was at exactly this moment that radio contact with the Penlee Lifeboat was lost, and one can only surmise what happened next. All hands were lost, and only four bodies eventually found. The same was true of the Union Star.