William Simpson AM

b. ?  d. ?

DATE OF AM ACTION: 13/09/1869 Bude, Cornwall.

Little is known about the life of William Simpson AM other than the incident off the coast of Cornwall in September 1869.



During a very heavy gale on the 13th September, 1869, the ship “Avonmore” was wrecked on the coast of Cornwall, near Bude, and the Second Officer and six other members of the crew were drowned. The rocket apparatus from Bade was taken to the spot and under the personal direction of WILLIAM SIMPSON, Chief Boatman in charge of the Coast Guard Station there, nine of the crew were saved by it. Six of the crew still remained on the wreck, one of them with a broken limb, lying jammed amongst the debris on the vessel’s deck, SIMPSON saw that these six men could neither save themselves nor be saved by the apparatus unless additional assistance was rendered from the shore. Although the ship was expected to break up momentarily, SIMPSON determined to reach the deck himself, if possible, by means of the gear. When being hauled to the wreck the line became fast in the block, and the gear was for a time rendered useless. In consequence of the failure in the gear SIMPSON was hauled through the water under the stern of the ship amongst floating wreck, and it was not without difficulty and perseverance and much risk that he succeeded unaided in reaching the deck. The ship was on her beam ends, masts had gone by the board, the decks were swept by the sea, and the leeside was under water. When on board the wreck, SIMPSON saw that the gear, which had become choked by drift oakum, must at once be cleared. This he set himself to do with his teeth whilst he held on to the wreck with his hands. When the rocket gear was restored to working order and got clear of all obstacles, four other volunteers were hauled on board from the shore to assist, and under SIMPSON’S direction the wounded man was extricated from the debris, and the whole of the six remaining members of the crew were saved. SIMPSON was the last to leave the wreck.