This was soon after the 1914-18 war. The mortars went off at the coastguard station. My pal said: “Come on, we’ll get a badge”. So off we set at a run for the lifeboat station, then sited at the Macduff end of Banff Bridge. Arriving there we found the skipper throwing out armbands, the badges I mentioned. Of course a couple came our way, which meant we were to tail on to one of the ropes with which the boat was hauled to the launching place, in this case Macduff Harbour. The actual crew were all volunteers but all of them were seamen.

The boat, named George and Mary Berrey, was fitted with oars and sail only, and sat on a wheeled launching carriage. We were soon on our way, and when we arrived at Macduff, the crew all got on board. Mr Paterson, the harbour master, directed operations. There was a kind of slip, a very narrow passage, which the boat had to enter in order to be launched on an even keel, and this proved very difficult to accomplish. Skipper Dowffie (his nickname, not his surname) becoming impatient, shouted to “dump her ower the pier,” but Mr Paterson objected, saying it might damage the keel.

“Fit’s a coat o’ paint fan men’s lives may be at stake” was the answer he got, and we got a shout to let her go. Whoever worked the release pin did just that, and the boat plunged off the pier bow first, went well underneath the surface, and bobbed up again like the proverbial cork. A complete ducking for a start did not in the least dismay the bold skipper and his crew. The boat was well on its way when it was recalled. It had all been a false alarm!

When we arrived back at the lifeboat shed, the boat was housed and everything made shipshape. We handed in our armbands and a sum of four shillings [20p] was paid to each of us hauliers – very welcome for the little we did.

This story is almost word for word from Memories of My Young Days in Banff by A.R. in the Banffshire Journal Annual for 1965. He spelt the boat’s name George and Mary Berry, but I’m trusting the RNLI plaque in Banff Museum. In 1923 they closed the lifeboat station at the bridge and moved it to Whitehills.