Friday, 6 March 2009

Postman's Park (35): Herbert Maconoghu

One of the side-effects of Britain's activities in India was that the children of those who worked there often spent much of their childhood several continents away from their parents. Lengthy sea voyages meant that a short visit was out of the question, so other ways of filling the school holidays had to be found. Herbert Maconoghu and six schoolmates were sent to the seaside at Croyde in Devon, where they stayed with a woman for the summer break.

It must have seemed an idyllic time. Croyde is an attractive village complete with thatched cottages and gentle, green hills behind. The bay has sandy beaches and dunes: every day, the boys would go to the same bathing spot to swim.

However, after some weeks, a morning bathe went tragically wrong. This may have been due to the changing tides: strong rips can form in Croyde Bay at low tide in particular. Some of the boys were swept out by the current, and two got into real difficulties. Pausing only to shout to a companion, 'You save one boy and I'll save the other', Maconoghu swam out to the rescue. However, his effort was in vain: the two struggling boys and Maconoghu all drowned.

HERBERT MACONOGHU, SCHOOL BOY FROM WIMBLEDON AGED 13, HIS PARENTS ABSENT IN INDIA, LOST HIS LIFE IN VAINLY TRYING TO RESCUE HIS TWO SCHOOL FELLOWS WHO WERE DROWNED AT GLOVERS POOL, CROYDE, NORTH DEVON, AUGUST 28 1882.

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