A Local Hero – June 2006
John Gawn of Ryde was Mate of the schooner ‘Corinne’. The yacht left Cowes and on Saturday 7th September 1889, headed westward and anchored at Totland Bay. The cutter, with a crew of 5 men, put out from the yacht for a sail in Scratchell’s Bay having on board the nephew and niece of the owner, Mr Chas. Goschen.
A sudden gust of wind capsized the boat and there ensued a terrible struggle for life in the strong tide.
John Gawn took the children, aged 14 and 9 years, in his arms and swam with them for some twenty minutes. A fisherman in a boat near by, heard the cries for help, and rowed to Gawn’s assistance. He reached them just in time to save the children. As soon as the children were released from Gawn’s grasp he fell back exhausted and sank. He rose and was pulled in to the boat and attempts were made to revive him, but it was too late.
At the inquest he jury placed on record their high appreciation of his conduct.