Guild of the Holy Compassion

The annual memorial service for the Guild of the Holy Compassion took place at the seamen’s plot in St. George’s Cemetery.

Henry Hayward, president of the guild, led the opening prayers, reminding those gathered of the perils of the ocean and how the service was so important for families in different parts of the world whose loved ones were buried in the sailors’ plot in the former capital.

Keith Battersbee, a retired pilot warden, recounted the events leading up to the loss of the pilot gig Ocean Queen in January, 1927 off St. David’s.

Mr Battersbee said: “The pilot gig went out in terrible weather to meet an incoming freighter.

“They managed to get the pilot on board and the crew asked if they would like to lift the Ocean Queen on board because the weather was rapidly deteriorating.

“The pilots said they would try to make it back themselves to Fort St. Catherine beach where they had set out from. They were never seen again.”

Mr Battersbee explained that, a week later, the gig itself was found floating off Elbow Beach., but the men’s bodies were never recovered.

Derek Tully, Secretary of the guild recalled another seafaring tragedy – when the Lloyd Bermuda was lost at sea en route to Bermuda in December,1988.

“We held a service with the survivors of Lloyd Bermuda at St. Peter’s Church in St. George,” Dr Tully said.

“After the service we boarded the pilot boat St David and proceeded out of Town Cut to Kitchen Shoals to lay wreaths for the men.”

Dr. Tully said that the weather was still very bad when they set out to pay tribute to the missing seamen.

He said: “The storm system which sank Lloyd Bermuda was still in the area and the seas were very rough, but the survivors wanted to say a special prayer and lay wreaths for their shipmates that they would never see again.”

Shipping agents Stephen Petty and Barry Brewer, along with pilot warden Mario Thompson and deputy pilot warden Wendell Burchall Jr laid the wreaths at the memorials to the sailors lost at sea.

“It is a very moving ceremony” said Mr Petty, whose sentiments were echoed by Mr Brewer.

“We are very pleased to be part of the ceremony today.”

“Dr Tully concluded: ”Every Bermudian has some connection to the sea and ships.

“This is our way of commemorating those lost at sea who would never see their loved ones again.”

Royal Gazette