Captain Lawrence Busher, of the tug boat Wexford, was 57, when he and his crew took part in the rescue of the crew of the Mexico and the remaining crew of the Helen Blake. He used the steam power from the tug to pull the James Stevens, a 40ft sailing lifeboat, from Rosslare Fort to the Keeraghs, a journey that could only have been undertaken under power.
The Mexico was a Norwegian cargo schooner, that went aground at Keeragh Rocks on the 20th of February 1914. The Helen Blake was the RNLI boat from Fethard, that went to the aid of the Mexico but was sunk will the loss of 9 of its crew. The rest made it to Keeragh Island and helped the crew of the Mexico on to the windswept, freezing island. They endured gales, rain, snow and very little in provisions for four days as crews from Rosslare Fort and Dunmore East, along with the people of Fethard did all they could to rescue them in the same dreadful conditions.
On the fourth day, the crew from Dunmore established a line to the island to get the crew off, and two made it to their boat. They then handed it over to the crew on the James Stevens. Aided by the paddle steam powered tug boat the Wexford, two crewmen from Rosslare, William Duggan and James Wickham, volunteered to use a small punt that the Tug Wexford had to travel by line from the island to the James Stevens. The plan was to take two of the stranded back with them on each trip. This was very tough weather for this operation and it was described by those present as the bravest rescue ever seen. After the second trip the punt was damaged and the hole was plugged with bread, and tar paper. This way they kept going until they had gotten all the men from the island.
The Wexford brought the James Stevens to Fethard first to drop off their people, and then took the Dunmore boat home, and dropped off the Mexico’s crew in Waterford. Then after four dreadful days at sea they got themselves and the James Stevens home to Wexford, where they were greeted as heroes.
There were many awards handed out to the crews involved and their extraordinary bravery was acknowledged by the King and Queen of Norway amongst others. There was a fundraiser for families who lost someone that day and medals for that bravery were awarded. The medals in the Rosslare Harbour Maritime Museum are those of Captain Busher, Captain of The Wexford.