The famous Christmas lights of Mousehole will be temporarily switched off this evening in memory of the eight lifeboat crewmen who lost their lives in the Penlee disaster 37 years ago.

It was at 8.12pm on December 19, 1981 when the Penlee Lifeboat, the Solomon Browne, set out to aid a vessel in distress.

Onboard were coxswain Trevelyan Richards, 56, second coxswain and mechanic James Stephen Madron, 35, assistant mechanic Nigel Brockman, the 43-year-old emergency mechanic John Blewett, 23-year-old Kevin Smith, 33-year-old Barrie Torrie, the landlord of Mousehole's Ship Inn Charles Greenhaugh, 46, and 23-year-old Gary Wallis.

They never returned.

The Union Star, a cargo coaster, was on her maiden voyage from The Netherlands to Ireland with eight people onboard, including captain Henry Moreton, his wife and her two teenage daughters.

The ships's engine cut out a few miles of Land's End and as the storm worsened, a distress call was made to Falmouth Coastguard.

A Sea King helicopter from RNAS Culdrose in Helston was sent out, but in gusting winds of nearly 100 mile sand hour it was unable to get close enough to airlift anyone from the ship.

It was at this point, in waves at least 50 foot high, that the eight volunteer crew of the Penlee Lifeboat set out.

Such was their skill that four of the Union Star's crew actually managed to scramble aboard the lifeboat, but it was the lifeboatmen's dedication and insistence they continue trying to rescue the remaining four that proved fatal.

It was at this moment that radio contact was lost.

What happened next remains a secret of the sea, but the lifeboat never returned to shore and only some of the 16 bodies were ever found.

The tragedy hit the community hard and each year, on the anniversary of the disaster, the men are remembered by the Christmas lights in Mousehole being switched off for an hour, in poignant tribute.