RNLI’s tribute to victims of the Rohilla disaster

The hospital ship the SS Rohilla.
The hospital ship the SS Rohilla.

A weekend of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Rohilla is being lined up by today’s lifeboat men.

The RNLI has announced a series of special services, flotillas and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque will take place later this year.

The weekend, from Friday October 31 to Sunday November 2, is still in the planning stages and is being put together in conjunction with the current lifeboat crew.

It starts with an official opening of the weekend’s activities at the Lifeboat Museum and the opening of a collection of Rohilla artefacts.

The historic William Riley - which was launched 30 times during the rescue operation - will perform a rowing and rescue demonstration with volunteers and crew members.

It will be followed by a flotilla of boats led by the station’s lifeboat, the George and Mary Webb, to the site of the Rohilla wreck where a wreath will be laid.

Later that day a plaque, commissioned by Whitby Civic Society, will be unveiled by the Marquis of Normanby.

In the evening there will be an evening of music and drama to remember the Rohilla.

On the Sunday of the weekend the new Bishop of Whitby, the Venerable Paul Ferguson, will lead a service of remembrance at St Mary’s Church, with music from Marske Fisherman’s Choir.

Canon of Whitby, Rev David Smith, is also the chaplain to the Whitby lifeboat crew.

He said: “As a town, as the anniversary of the Rohilla comes around, there has always been something done and we have laid a wreath every year since 1964 but the last big thing we did was ten years ago for the 90th anniversary.

“This is a commemoration of that event, a reminder of the people that helped in the rescue and also somewhere for the families of those who died to get together and enjoy memories.”