The Welly Trail Reginald SEARLE

Reginald SEARLE

Welcome to the Exmouth RNLI Yellow Welly Trail.

If you have a leaflet, enjoy the trail.

If not, click on

 where you will find all the information you need to enable you to join in!

Sponsored by:

EX81AR Deli and Store

St Andrews Road, Exmouth EX81AR

Hot and cold food made to order 

Perfect for picnics




Reginald Mark  Searle

Coxswain 1943 – 51

Coxswain of Lifeboat:

Catherine Harriet Eaton.



Taking over during World War 2, Coxswain Searle would have had a makeshift crew made up of the Coastguard, Royal Naval reserves on leave, and local fishermen, whenever they were tasked to launch.

On December 13th, 1943, the 750 ton steamer, ‘South Coaster’, from Cardiff loaded with 450 tons of coal ran aground on Pole Sand with a crew of 13.  Over the next week, several attempts were made to re float the vessel, and each time, the Lifeboat Crew were ready in case they were needed, but it remained stuck. Then, on 21st, the weather became stormy, and the Lifeboat launched, battling the sea to rescue the 13 crewmen on the steamer.  

On this occasion, it took 10 locals and 61 Royal Naval Ratings to launch and recover the lifeboat.

The last wartime launch was on 17 December 1944.  A Dutch vessel, “Ooster Haven” with a broken propeller anchored off Beer Head.  On board were 11 injured servicemen, rescued from the English Channel.  The lifeboat took a doctor to tend to the injured.  

On several occasions during the war, the Exmouth Lifeboat searched for aircraft which crashed into the sea.  In August 1945, locals and holidaymakers, 70% of them women, launched the lifeboat to search 4 miles off Orcombe Point.

Launching had always been difficult,  as the lifeboat had to be dragged across the road and over the beach by people pulling ropes. Recovery, pulling uphill, was even more challenging.  

On 5th August, 1948, Exmouth RNLI received its first tractor, meaning less people were needed, and launches would be quicker.  The first time it was used, notes record 

“Owing to the quick launch several of the regular crew failed to get down to the boathouse in time and so missed the passage.”


Write the letter S from SEARLE  in space 8 of your answer box.


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We have made every effort to ensure all the information about the Coxswains is accurate. However, we are always happy to be corrected or updated and, if you can add to our knowledge base, please email us at


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