Len Piddlesden

By Ray Sexton

Growing up in Newhaven, the sound of lifeboat maroons calling the crew was a common thing. A friend and neighbour's father was coxswain.  Leonard Alfred Piddlesden won a bravery medal whilst cox. Born in 1906 near Rye, he was a fisherman and lifeboat man. Married to Maisie they had one daughter, Patricia, and two sons, John and David.  The elder son, John served in the Royal Navy and settled away from Newhaven. David his second son died in his 40`s but his daughter Donna still lives in Newhaven.

Len was cox one winters night in 1943, when the Cecil & Lilian Philpot was called out in a raging gale to assist the HM Trawler Avanturine in trouble 5 miles off Cuckmere. During this mission the trawler rammed the lifeboat, resulting in the loss of one crew member and injuring all but two of the rest.  In true lifeboat manner they continued the rescue and escorted the trawler into Newhaven, with the assistance of Shoreham lifeboat.

The picture shows Len at the helm, with his crew dressed for a rescue. I don't know any of the names of the crew.

The Cecil &Lilian Philpot was one of nineteen lifeboats joing the amada of "little" ships rescuing BEF troops off of Dunkirk beaches. Though I do not know who was coxswain or crew at that time, I am sure others can list them.

These two photos are among my mother, Connie Sexton's, collection.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LIFEBOAT COXSWAIN' page
This page was added by RAY SEXTON on 07/06/2010.
Comments about this page

This is my Grandfather.

By Donna-Marie Hollingdale
On 13/11/2010

My father Stanley Winter was crew member on this dreadful night.

He suffered backed injuries and cuts to the inside of is mouth, when the mast fell on to him.

By John Winter
On 17/06/2017

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.