In the year 1909 a Mr Joseph Reeves held a position of responsiblity at the New Avonmouth Dock. He and his family lived comfortably at Avon Villa, Avonmouth. That year he planned to take his family to Exmouth for a fortnight's holiday and one of his workmen suggested to him he should get in touch with a brother of his who lived there and who was Charles Carnell, one of the Exmouth pilots. Charles, said the brother, would be pleased to take the family sailing in his boat, the 'Bona' if they so wished.
The family came to Exmouth and lodged in Bicton Place. There were four children but the oldest, a boy of ten, stayed in Avonmouth with his aunt, Miss Reeves. He could not go on holiday because he had to finish his school term. He must have been disappointed to see his family leave for the golden beaches.
Throughout the first week the children played happily on the beach. There was Harold, aged 6, and Bryan, a 'sturdy little chap' aged 4, and 3 year old Gwenneth who had long golden hair and who, said Mrs Green, their landlady, 'was like a little angel. '
On the Tuesday of the second week Mr Carnell sailed the family in the 'Bona' up the Estuary to the Turf Hotel . The trip pleased them all , except for young Bryan. On the Wednesday they set sail for Teignmouth. Little Bryan wanted to stay at home with Mrs Green but his mother persuaded him to sail with them.
On the return journey the boat capsized. The family was trapped beneath the sail and all were drowned. Charles Carnell and a friend of his, a solicitor's clerk, Henry Norton, were also drowned.
The little boy who had been left behind in Avonmouth had lost his father,his mother, his two brothers and his pretty sister.