The Ann Letitia Russell Rescue Group


Saving Fleetwoods Historic Lifeboat

Registered Charity No:1166752

3 & 4 April 1949 Ketch "Alpha"

In a gale, and heavy seas on 3 April 1949 a Ketch named Alpha got in to difficulties near the North Scar Sandbank. The Ann Letitia Russell was launched at 3.50pm under the command of Coxswain James Leadbetter, the Lifeboat headed towards the casualty in heavy seas and torrential rain. On arrival of the Lifeboat at the casualty the Ketch was bumping it was over the top of the sand bank, Coxswain James Leadbetter managed to bring the Lifeboat alongside the casualty, at times with the swell of the sea the Ketch was above the Lifeboat and on the next wave the Lifeboat was above the Ketch, holding the Lifeboat in the correct positon the 8 people on board the ketch managed to get a board the Lifeboat. The Lifeboat landed the rescued crew at Fleetwood 4.35pm.

Coxswain James Leadbetter and the Coastguard had warned the crew of the dangers of trying to walk out to the Ketch and board her. But going against the warnings the men made their way back out to the Ketch at low water. During that night winds started to pick up again increasing to a gale with very heavy seas, as day light broke the Ketch was nowhere to be seen, so at 7.20am Coxswain James Leadbetter and his crew launched the Ann Letitia Russell to search for the Ketch. After searching for the Ketch for over 2 hours the Lifeboat crew spotted her 8 miles off Fleetwood sat on Clarke’s Wharf sandbank. The Lifeboat was unable to get to the casualty because of another sandbank so Coxswain James Leadbettter had to drive the lifeboat at full speed along the edge of the sandbank and managed to get alongside the Ketch in the low water with just enough depth of water. The 6 crew on board the Ketch where rescued and taken back to Fleetwood.

Coxswain James Leadbetter received the RNLI’s Bronze medal for outstanding courage and great seamanship during the double rescue of the crew from the Ketch Alpha. Coxswains James Leadbetters medal and certificate is now displayed in the Lifeboat House at Fleetwood.


James Leadbetter Medal
James Leadbetter Cert

The Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain James Leadbetter on May 19 1949, for his outstanding

Courage and great seamanship when he and the Fleetwood

Lifeboat crew rescued the crew of the Ketch “Alpha”

on April 3rd and 4th 1949.

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Registered Charitiy 1166752

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