Silent tribute to the victims of 1953 floods
A MOMENT'S silence has been held in Barton-upon- Humber to remember those who lost their lives in the East Coast floods 60 years ago.
The floods, which struck on January 31, 1953, saw the storm-tossed North Sea overwhelm coastal defences and sweep through towns and villages.
They killed 307 people in Britain and damaged 24,500 homes.
The dead were remembered at an emergency services conference yesterday to discuss how to respond if the floods were ever repeated.
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In a speech before the silence, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service chaplain Peter Vickers said: "We're here because of a lot of people 60 years ago who lost their lives.
"The act of remembrance is to remember those who were local who died, those who were national who died, and those who were international who died.
"We also come together to give thanks for the work that has been done to strengthen the sea defences."
It was not only Great Britain that suffered in the floods.
They also hit the Netherlands, sweeping over dykes built to protect the low-lying country.
The water killed 1,836 people in the provinces of South Holland, Zeeland and Noord- Brabant.
Rev Vickers said the silence was a chance to reflect on several consequences of the flood.
He said: "First, it was to remember the deaths of the civilians.
"Second, it was for the response of the emergency services, who were willing to put themselves in danger.
"You can control danger to a certain extent but they were still putting themselves in harm's way."
He said families across the region held the fire service in high regard.
Rev Vickers said: "Wherever I go, there's only got to be the rumour the fire service is going to close the local station and everyone goes up in arms because they are so highly thought of."
The storm also killed hundreds on the seas of northern Europe.
The Princess Victoria ferry sank in the North Channel, with the loss of 133 lives.
The ship's radio officer, David Broadfoot, was awarded the George Cross for staying at his post to send calls for help, even though it cost him his life.
Its captain, James Ferguson, was awarded the George Medal for going down with his ship.
Survivors saw him saluting on the bridge as she went down.
Many fishing trawlers also sank in the extreme conditions.
On land, one of the worst British calamities was in Felixstowe, when 38 died after their wooden homes were flooded.
In the seafront village of Jaywick, near Clacton, 37 people were killed.