Jun 04

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Constant piovs thovght

On the 27th October, 1927, Oscar Passalacova died.

He was Chief Engineer on the Isles of Scilly life boat, and his memorial, in The Anglican Church of St Mary’s off the south-west coast of Cornwall, says that at the time of his death:

‘His thovght tvrned to his far away mother.’

How charming. It also went to say that he had:

‘Sacrificed his yovng existence to the fulfillment of his high dvty
In the wreck of the S/S Isabo on Scilly Rock.’
‘May his sovl find peace in heaven
And a constant piovs thought on earth.’

Oscar is one of dozens who has given his life in trying to rescue others in this place.

Also near the Isles of Scilly is Bishop Lighthouse – the most westerly lighthouse in Britain. Light keepers would sometimes look out of their kitchen window and see fish gaping at them from within the water. Given the window is located 25 meters up the light house, this was quite impressive. The swell was such that it would turn the lighthouse into an underwater aquarium. In 1874, 40 meter waves broke over the lighthouse washing away the lantern and the half ton fog bell. You had to be tough to serve on the Scilly light houses.

Talking of rough seas, the locals talk of the mournful toll of underwater bells from the steeples of 140 churches inundated by a giant wave that flooded the land of Lyonesse, which flourished, between the Scilly Isles and Lands End. Rather less fanciful are the dark lines under the water around here that indicate stone walls and the remains of Bronze Age settlements drowned by rising sea levels.

Fortunately, the sea levels have not claimed everything, which is a relief to the Dutchy of Cornwall, (Prince Charles), who owns most of the Islands and gets a tidy rent from them. Not that the Islands always respect authority. They don’t call it smuggling here, they call it ‘free trading’.

Yes – not all Scillonians are saints. Such was the devastation they wrought as pirates on Dutch shipping, that Holland was moved to declare war on the Scilly Isles in 1651. This war only ended 27 years ago when peace was formally declared by the Dutch Ambassador.

Other hostilities saw flying boats operating out of the Islands during the First World War. In the Second World War, a squadron of Hurrican fighter planes was stationed on the Scilly Isles to provide cover for shipping convoys. The graves of many of these aviators are another reminder of the ultimate sacrifice many have paid here.

For this reason, I often find myself in ‘piovs thovght’ at the preparedness of many, even though they aren’t saints, to risk their lives to save others.

Would I?

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