On Sunday the 8th March 1931, not long after lunch Bellambi had its first drowning. The person was Leonard Riordan of Russell Vale, who accompanied by Harold Jones went surfing at Bellambi Beach. The two men were suddenly caught by the strong under-tow and were swept out to sea. Riordan was seen in difficulties. His companion Jones, held him up for more than half an hour bur his strength commenced to weaken, and he was forced to release his hold.
David Wakeling, a young Bellambi lifesaver, put on the belt, and swam to the assistance of the two men. The surf line caught in the heavy sea-weed that was floating nearby and Wakeling was compelled to drag many times his own weight. He quickly became exhausted, and threw up his hands to be pulled ashore, when he was about 40 yards from the men. The large crowd, standing in safety on the beach, shouted to him to continue. Again he threw up his hands. The swift cross-current had swept him further from the men. The crowd again shouted words of encouragement to him, and he gamely, though feebly continued. For the third time he signalled to be pulled ashore, and it was evident that he was exhausted. He was dragged to the beach in a state of collapse. Life-savers worked on him for an hour before they brought him to consciousness. Jones reached the shore unaided, but Riordan was swept out to sea. A painstaking search was carried out along the beach and persons cruised the ocean in a boat. About 7 p.m. on Tuesday 10th March, 1931, the body, washed up on the beach, was delivered by Constable Armstrong who had been an untiring leader of the searchers. For their efforts, Harold Jones was awarded the Meritorious Award in Bronze and David Wakeling a Certificate of Merit for assisting Harold Jones.
Tom Starr SNR