Harry Rows them to Safety

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Daily Sketch Feb 2nd, 1953

By Janet Penn

By John Rydon, Daily Sketch Reporter

It was a one-man Dunkirk for old soldier 61-year-old Harry Lake yesterday. His effort in a tiny canvas boat saved nearly a dozen people from drowning on devastated Canvey Island, Essex.

As the flood waters rose fitter's mate Harry, who had never been in a boat before, rowed to rescue frantic people from their homes.

Last night I found weary Harry slipping from the disaster area on the last bus to Southend.

Collarless and with his old brown cap askew on his fur­rowed forehead, this old soldier (ex-Essex Regiment) told me: "When I saw the water all round and heard people shout­ing I thought I had better do something quickly. I got the boat from a yard nearby. Whenever I heard anyone calling for help I rowed to them. I have never rowed before, so I fell in once when the boat capsized. Another time I lost an oar. I took a woman of 70 and her 40-year-old daughter out first."

Mr. Lake took the rescued people to his bungalow, on high ground untouched by the flood.

There his wife gave them tea, and dried their clothes.      

This page was added by Janet Penn on 07/10/2012.