Rye Harbour Image Library | Picture

Picture No:265
Courtesy of:Paul Kennedy
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Bill Head and Family

The afternoon of the 15th November 1928.
This is quite a well known picture at Rye Harbour as it shows Bill Head and his family on the afternoon of the Lifeboat Disaster.We think the media are intrusive now but in 1928 their reporters not only arrived within hours but also took such intrusive photos so quickly. I was very fortunate to speak to Bill many times before his passing. He was a most remarkable man.
I asked him how it felt having your photo taken on such a day,
'We didn't think anything of it,' he replied.
I asked him what the effect on the harbour was when the Seventeen drowned.
'He asked me what I meant. I said it must have been horrendous losing so many young men.
'Not really. We just got on with life.' I came to realise that death was much more abundant in those days with childbirth and the sea. If you go into the graveyard you will find Bill's grandfather's grave. He also died young when he was lost overboard.
So Bill lost his grandfather, father and two brothers which leaves me trying to understand what effects this had on him. When you then discover he was a prisoner of war for about four years you really are in awe of the man. He very kindly let me copy his tape of his war memoirs. I asked him if he thought of escaping. His reply was typical in its logic.
'Well when I was first captured I lay awake planning my escape. After about a week I had evaluated my position. If I escaped and was captured I'd be shot. If I escaped and got back to England I'd be back in the fighting. I decided that I was better off where I was.'
One of the greatest human beings I have had the pleasure to meet.

Picture Added on 29 January 2008.


Bill Head was my Great Uncle, my mum's uncle, and is hugely missed by us all. Never a great one for talking, conversations were often long silences, with lots of nodding and an occasional 'ar'or 'ar now'. I do have quite a few family photos which I will endeavour to add to your archive.
Added by Steve Duffy son of Kathleen (nee Head) on 29 April 2008.
Bill was my uncle, and you are right, he was a fantastic person. Not given to making long speeches! It was sometimes difficult to get him to talk, but then that did not matter. I have fond memories of my gran. She was a lovely lady. We used to go to her house for tea sometimes and she always had nice cream cakes as I remember. Sadly I had to leave the harbour when I was about 8 years old, but I visit very regularly. I have always considered it as my home village wherever I have been.
Added by Bill Head on 02 May 2008.
My uncle Walter Igglesden was a member of the crew. Although he died before I was born I have been brought up with the stories of the tragedy.I was taken to many of the memorial services when I was a young child with my mother that is why I feel so connected with this sad story.
Added by Ann Morris on 23 October 2008.
Does anybody know the maiden name of Mrs Head ?
Added by Philipdibley on 31 August 2010.
Mrs Head was my father's sister. She is lucy Anne Dibley. My father was George Dibley
Added by Philip Dibley on 23 October 2010.
If Paul Kennedy still has a copy of Uncle Bill's wartime memoirs tape I would be very keen to have a copy for our family
Added by Stephen Duffy on 24 September 2012.
My great uncle was Walter Igglesden and my aunt is Ann Morris. I would be grateful for any stories information on Walter.
Added by David Harvey on 08 March 2013.
Mrs Head was Kathleen Davies.

Added by Rachel Smith on 29 July 2013.
Mrs Head was definitely Lucy Dibley, my great grandmother
Added by Paul Head on 09 July 2014.
Very neat post. Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.
Added by LazardOn on 26 November 2014.
Herbert Head is my 1st Cousin 3x removed. I've been doing research into my family history. If anyone has any information on the young man in the picture, I'd be very happy to include him in the family tree that I am working on. I fear he is too late for the 1911 census.
Added by Mike Bailey on 17 November 2015.
Does anyone know the names of the girl and the lady on the right in this picture?
Added by Adrian Wheeler on 13 August 2021.
The lady on far right is Elizabeth Head. The lady standing is Kathleen Head.
Added by Paul head on 30 August 2023.

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