2nd April 1934
Stranded fishermen are found on Minquiers
Five men set out from Jersey in a converted lifeboat called Joy Bell, on the last day of March 1934. They were expected back within a few hours, so when they still hadn’t reappeared by the following morning, the Duke of Normandy tug was sent out to look for them. When the tug came back without the men, the search was called off for 24 hours, to wait for the rough seas to subside and, on 2 April, a final attempt was undertaken. The lifeboat was launched to see if it had any more luck. If not, the search would be called off a second time and, unless the men made it to the French coast, it would be assumed they had drowned.
Fortunately, on a 10-hour journey out and back, the lifeboat crew at last spotted them, 12 miles offshore, stranded on Maitre Ile on Les Minquiers reef. As the men explained to the lifeboat crew, they had got as far as Pipette Rocks before the storm had arisen and, finding themselves unable to make it back to Jersey, been forced to seek shelter.
A refuge is found
Fortunately, they’d been able to break into some huts on the island, so had managed to find some shelter, but would still have been cold and tired after their ordeal. They wouldn’t have been too hungry, though, as they’d taken a small amount of bread with them and caught fish on their first day, which they’d been able to cook on a small fire they’d lit on the reef.
They may even have seen the Duke of Normandy, which had passed within 200m of Les Minquiers but been unable to get any closer, due to the storm, and the crew had been unable to see anybody on the reef.
Two of the men came back to Jersey on the lifeboat, but as Joy Bell was undamaged the other three were left behind to bring it back themselves as soon as conditions improved. The lifeboat crew left behind fresh supplies and cigarettes.
The Leeds Mercury of 3 April reported that “when the lifeboat with the two men aboard arrived back at St Helier… crowds lined the quayside and cheered the heroic seamen”.
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