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 D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James

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gardner1879

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PostSubject: D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James   D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James EmptyTue Feb 07, 2023 4:05 pm

Natal Witness Saturday 18th January 1879
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Petty Officer Tom

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D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James Empty
PostSubject: Re: D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James   D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James EmptyTue Feb 07, 2023 5:54 pm

Here is a little more information on the drowning of Able Seaman Daniel Martin

On 8 January the 900cwt anchor, securing the hawser on the Zulu side, was pulled free by a torrent and dragged to the middle of the river.

On 9 January preparations were undertaken to replace the anchor and hawser back on the Zulu side of the river.  Lieutenant Robert W. Craigie with Able Seaman Dan Martin and 2 other men were crossing the Tugela River on “Smith’s Pont”.  The pont was overturned by the fast moving river and Able Seaman Martin was drowned when he and Lieutenant Craigie were thrown into the river.  Leading Seaman Richard Perrins jumped from a boat into the river in an attempt to rescue Martin but was himself almost sucked under.  Able Seaman Joseph James jumped in to help Perrin but they were unable to rescue Martin.  Both were later awarded Royal Humane Society Bronze Medals.  

Commander Campbell later wrote that “to under run the wire hawser, detach it from the anchor, and lay it out again, was a work of no small difficulty and danger, and such was the velocity of the stream, that during this operation several men were swept from the pontoon into the river, where one lost his life, and the others escaped with difficulty.”  

Lieutenant Craigie wrote of the incident in his journal “While I was hauling the old pont up the stream by a hawser, she took charge and capsized four of us into the water – three men and myself.  I managed to get back to the pont with two men, but the third was carried away by the current and, unfortunately, drowned.”

A dispatch written by Lord Chelmsford from Rorke’s Drift and reprinted in "The Dundee Courier and Argus” included the following update on the column at the Lower Tugela.  “No. 1 column, under Colonel Pearson, was to have commenced crossing on the 12th at 4:30 a.m.  The wet weather had seriously delayed the arrival of stores; but from reports received last night, I have reason to hope that anxiety on his head is for the present at an end.  The Tugela has been in very heavy flood, and the difficulties in crossing the country were seriously increased.  Colonel Pearson states that a hawser with anchor was carried away during the night of the 8th inst. down the stream from where it had been deeply buried in the opposite bank.  It required 500 men to haul it back by main force.  In laying it across again I regret to say a seaman of the Active (name not forwarded in report) was drowned.  A boat’s crew nearly shared the same fate, and Lieutenant Craigie, of the Active, having been sucked down by the current, under the pont which had turned nearly over, was rescued by a Krooman.”

Staff Surgeon Henry Norbury, R.N., at the Naval Brigade camp on the Lower Tugela wrote to Sir Alexander Armstrong, K.C.B., F.R.S., Director-General of the Royal Navy Medical Department – “It is with feeling of regret that I have to report the accidental drowning of Daniel Martin, age 22, A.B. in the Tugela this afternoon.  Whilst standing on the Pont, which conveyed waggons across the River, part of the rail ‘carried away’ and he was precipitated into the stream, which being much swollen and discoloured by the heavy rains and the current being in consequence very swift he was rapidly conveyed away and although a boat pulled and two men jumped after him yet he suddenly sank after swimming for a short distance, his body being probably carried out to sea.”  

Norbury later writes in his Medical and Surgical Journal for HMS Active – “D. Martin, aged 22, Able Seaman; disease or hurt, death by drowning, 9 January 1879. While working on a pont on the right bank of the river Tugela a railing gave way and he and some other officers and men were plunged into the river. He was seen to swim for a while in the strong current but suddenly disappeared and may have been taken by a crocodile.”

Tom
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gardner1879

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PostSubject: Re: D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James   D Martin HMS Active drowned crossing Tugela. Richard Perring John James EmptyTue Feb 07, 2023 5:59 pm

Superb Tom. Thank you Salute
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