The Caister Lifeboat Disaster of 13 November 1901 occurred off of the coast of Norfolk, England. Events took place during what became known as the "Great Storm" which caused havoc down the East coasts of England and Scotland.
After the launch most of the launching crew went home to change their wet clothing. James Haylett Snr, who had been the assistant Coxwain for many years and was now 78 years old, remained on watch despite being wet through and having no food. He had 2 sons, a son in law and 2 grandsons in the boat.
The Coxwain steered towards the stricken vessel but the sea conditions forced the boat back towards the beach and she struck the beach bow first about from the launch point. The heavy sea struck the starboard quarter and capsized the boat. breaking off the masts and trapping the crew beneath the boat. The "Beauchamp" was a Norfolk and Suffolk class non self righting boat, in length , 10 and a half feet wide and weighing 5 tons without her gear. When fully crewed and equipped and with ballast tanks full she needed 36 men to bring her ashore.
The time was now around 3.00 AM. Frederick Henry Haylett returned to the Lifeboat house after getting changed and alerted his grandfather James Haylett Snr to the cries coming from the boat. They ran to where the Beauchamp lay keel up in the surf. James Haylett managed to pull his son-in-law Charles Knights from the boat. Frederick Haylett also ran into the surf and pulled John Hubbard clear. James Haylett returned to the water to pull his grandson Walter Haylett clear. Despite the bravery of these two men these were the only survivors.
The men who died in the disaster were:
Coxswain - Aaron Haylett, Second Coxswain - William Brown, Late Cox - James Haylett Jnr, Harry Knights, Charles Brown, John Smith, George King, William Wilson, Charles Bonney George.
They are all buried in Caister Cemetery where a monument raised by public donation was raised to them in 1903.
Following the disaster the Beauchamp never returned to service and was abandoned in a boatyard before finally being broken up. The Beauchamp, the cost of which was presented to the Institution by Sir Reginald Proctor Beauchamp, Bart, was placed on her station in 1892, and up to the time of the accident she had been launched to the aid of vessels in distress on 81 occasions, and saved 146 lives; while the total number of lives which the lifeboats at Caister have saved during the past forty-three years is 1281, a 'record' as regards the lifeboat stations of the United Kingdom. The RNLI lifeboat station at Caister was closed by the Institution in October 1969 after the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat station received a fast Waveney class lifeboat. The Caister Lifeboat station re-opened as an independently run lifeboat station, and continues to save lives today.