The City of Paris became grounded outside Simon's Town, Cape Colony on 21 March 1879, whilst transporting troops from Queens Town, County Cork, to Simon's Town.
This is a Newspaper article by a ranker about the cowardice of his officers:
The Cardigan Observer, Saturday 21 June 1879.
A GRAVE CHARGE
(From The "Evening Standard")
The " voice from the ranks" is seldom heard, but when it is, there is occasionally something in its echo. A case in point, which we hope is capable of explanation, is supplied by a ranker, whose communication finds insertion and endorsement in the Leeds Mercury. For the credit of the service, and with the view of eliciting a satisfactory explanation, we here draw attention to the most extra ordinary letter.
The correspondent of our contemporary - vouched for a being"a Private" and as writing from Ladysmith in April last - this writes in reference to the City of Paris episode, which, as hitherto narrated, made such a favourable impression, and gave such proud satisfaction to the public: "I am very, sorry to say that the officers of this regiment behaved most cowardly on board the City of Paris at the time she struck on the rocks.
They were the first to rush and seize the life buoys, thereby causing a panic among a lot of ignorant men, who did not realise any danger until they saw the officers with the life - belts on. You will scarcely believe that one person placed a lifebelt round his dogs neck just after the ship struck, whilst there were hundreds of of men with no means of saving their lives but by swimming".
Now, can this be possible? The Leeds Mercury, at all events, gives ready credence to the statement, for it says, with regard to it, in its leading columns: " The statement is made by an eye-witness, or it would be incredible, and we can only regret we cannot publish the names of the officers who behaved so cowardly in the hour of peril.
The eye-witness and his infamous charge are this believed in by the Mercury, which in consequence, feels justified in branding the entire body of officers of the corps - some of them, if we mistake not, being officers of the Guards
detachment on foreign service - with the most shameful cowardice.
The responsibility the Mercury thus assumes, and the deep reflection it casts thereby, render it imperatively necessary that the City of Paris affair should now receive the amplest and strictest investigation. Throughout the north of England this story has been ringing for days past, the acceptance of it by the Leeds Mercury raising it completely out of the region of mere hearsay and news paper gossip.
Other charges are made by the writer against his officers in camp, such as their buying up all the vegetables so that the men cannot get any - their health thereby suffering.
These, however, sink into insignificance before this grave charge. We hold that for the honour of the service it must be met. How did the military officers on board the City of Paris really act? This is the question. Did they behave as this "voice from the ranks" describes; or did they, as we prefer still to think, meet the occasion like British soldiers and British gentleman?
Those few questions at the end were actual questions by the newspaper.
My question is, does anyone know what action was taken and if at all who were involved?