5th August 1962

Jethou tenant was rescued from an up-turned boat

The tenant of Jethou almost came to a watery end in August 1962. William Hedley Cliff had set out from his island home to the neighbouring island of Herm on a punt. He was accompanied by his friend, 52-year-old Mr DCH Attenborough, who was visiting from the mainland. Attenborough lived in Bayswater, London.

However, something went wrong. The distance between Jethou’s small harbour arm and the Rosaire Steps on Herm is just 500m, but the two men didn’t make it. The punt turned over and they had to cling on for their lives.

One life lost

Attenborough didn’t manage to hang on long enough. According to The Guardian,

…he held on until about 4am yesterday [5th August] when he shouted ‘I can’t hold on any more’. Thirty minutes later he floated away.

Rescuers continued searching for him until noon the following day when they had to admit defeat.

Fortunately, Cliff managed to hang on until he was rescued by Alfred Taylor, a skipper who was carrying passengers from Guernsey to Sark.

Altogether, Cliff who had moved to Jethou following his retirement from the RAF, had clung to the punt for ten hours. When reunited with his wife and son, he said that had he not been picked up then he would soon have suffered a similar fate to Attenborough.

Wartime service

Squadron Leader William Hedley Cliff was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on 24 March 1942 for bravery on the afternoon of 12 February that year. He had been part of the No 42 Squadron, which had carried out a raid on enemy installations off the Dutch coast.

According to a report in the government’s official public record, The London Gazette (PDF), this was carried out “in the face of harassing fire from screening destroyers [and] pressed home with the utmost determination at very close range… [It] demanded a high degree of skill and courage.”


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Other events that occured in August

The Saumarez Memorial foundation stone was laid 1st
Guernsey won double-silver at the Commonwealth Games 2nd
Earl Grey was appointed Governor of Guernsey 3rd
A boy scout fell 250ft over a Torteval Cliff 4th
Jethou tenant was rescued from an up-turned boat 5th
A tomato ship and a tanker collided 6th
Human remains were found on Lihou 7th
The Beatles played at Candie Gardens 8th
The RAF bombed Guernsey Airport 9th
Guernesiais linguist Marie de Garis died 10th
Alderney experienced a total eclipse of the sun 11th
A minister was found dead at Icart Point 12th
Guernsey steam tramway is granted its concession 13th
Police found a bomb in Bluebell Wood 14th
Hanois Lighthouse’s foundation stone was laid 15th
Charlie Chaplin played in St Peter Port 16th
St Peter Port inundated with fish 17th
A royal visit… of sorts
The Rolling Stones played St Peter Port 18th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was published 19th
Archaeologist Crystal Bennet was born 20th
Mapmaking geologist John MacCulloch died 21st
St Sampson pensioner was buried in a landslide 22nd
Trident VI ran aground on its return from Herm 23rd
Queen Victoria visited Guernsey 24th
The post-Occupation military government was disbanded 25th
Wesleyans celebrated 100 years on Guernsey 26th
Oliver Reed was jailed in Guernsey 27th
Guernsey’s Reform Law was enacted 28th
Winston Churchill visited Guernsey with his wife 29th
Philip de Saumarez was discharged as a Jurat 30th
Jersey swimmers set a round-Guernsey record 31st