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Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor
Posts : 7077 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 52 Location : Down South.
Subject: Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor Sun Nov 06, 2011 8:15 pm
Any information on this would be apppricated. What did he do ? [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
Subject: Re: Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor Mon Nov 07, 2011 2:31 am
The “Windsor Castle” was nearing Table Bay on the 19th October, 1876 when she struck the rocks off Dassen Island. All passengers and crew were safely gotten off the ship and put ashore. There they were without shelter, but did have provisions. Two of the passengers, Lt. Melville of the 24th and another gentleman volunteered to ride overland for help, and, after borrowing a couple of horses from a local farmer, they arrived at Cape Town the following morning and reported the accident. The SS Florence was sent out to pick up the passengers. (Source: MaritimeQuest)
Subject: Re: Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:04 am
Here is a little more information on Lt. Melville’s ride for help. He is not mentioned by name in this article.
“The Windsor Castle was a 2,672 ton steamer which grounded off Dassen Island in October 1876. After the ship struck Dassen Island, James Searle and a British army lieutenant rowed 8 kilometres to the mainland. There they obtained horses and galloped a further 24km to Darling, where they procured a passenger cart and horses. Finally, they rode 80km to Cape Town and were able to alert shipping authorities.” (Source: Yzerfontein.info)
Posts : 1095 Join date : 2009-01-14 Location : East London
Subject: Re: Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor Mon Nov 07, 2011 10:54 am
Here's the report from the ILN regarding the 'Windsor Castle.' (A 'Commodore' of a Merchant fleet was generally the Company's longest-serving most senior captain, normally appointed to that Company's flagship, and acted as a sort of public relations figurehead amongst other things. There were also 'Commodore' Chief Engineers who fulfilled similar duties).
WINDSOR CASTLE From ‘The Illustrated London News’, December 2nd, 1876 ”The mail-steamer Windsor Castle, one of Messrs. Donald Currie and Co.’s line, which left London on Sept. 20 for the Cape, taking in mails and passengers at Dartmouth three days later, was wrecked on Oct. 16, but, happily, without loss of life. This ship had for some years been carrying the mails to the Cape, having before that been on the Indian line, where she made the fastest passages on record. In 1874 she was saved e from burning by the judgment and skill of her captain (Mr. Howson), acknowledged in the presentation of testimonials to him, and to several of the officers, by the Board of Trade. Captain Hewat, her commander on this last voyage, has been for the last eighteen mouths in charge of the mail-boats to the Cape from England. The vessel was an iron screw-steamer, built, with five bulkheads, at Glasgow, by Messrs. Napier, in 1872. She was classed 100 A1 at Lloyd’s in 1875. Her net tonnage was 1732 tons; her gross tonnage, 2672 tons. She had three decks, was 334 ft. long, 37 ft. broad, and 28 ft. deep. Her engines were of 270-horsepower, and certified by the makers (R. Napier and Sons, Glasgow). This is the first loss of any of the mail-boats of Messrs. Currie’s line. The spot where the wreck occurred is Dassen Island, halfway between Saldanha Bay and Table Bay, on the west coast of the Cape of Good Hope. It is a small guano islet, a mile or two off the mainland, about fifty miles north from Table Bay. This little island lies in the direct route to England, and has always been considered a dangerous spot, the highest part of the land being only sixty feet above the level of the sea. It is quite barren, and frequented only by fishermen for the sake of the guano and penguins’ eggs found there. Its chief danger to ships consists in the long ledges of reef which radiate from the shore in all directions, the sharp jagged rocks being certain a destruction to the mariner who ventures too near. The weather was fine, and the passengers were in expectation of being berthed in the Cape Town docks early next day. About two o’clock in the morning everyone on board was awakened by an unusual sound, followed by a stoppage of the ship’s motion. Some thought that the vessel had anchored sooner than was expected, and turned round to go to sleep again, well pleased that the voyage was ended. They were soon warned, however, that the vessel had struck and was fast impaled upon a reef of rocks, one of which was found to have penetrated some 7 ft. between the fore and midships. Within a quarter of an hour the engine-room was filled with water up to the water line. Fortunately, there was no sea running, and the steamer lay as quietly in her position as if she was at anchor. During the two hours before daybreak alarm-guns and rockets were fired, and the captain, officers, and crew lowered the boats and made preparations. When there was light it was seen that the steamer had struck on a sunken rock at the side of the Dassen Island, and there was no possibility of her being got off. Captain Hewat then appointed passengers and crew to the several boats, and landed the whole of the women, children, and men without any mishap. Provisions were sent ashore, and every effort was made to render their position comfortable, till they were safely removed. The ship went to pieces after some days, but a portion of the cargo was recovered. This, which is valued at £50,000, consisted of Manchester goods, iron, and machinery, and is insured in London. The ship was valued at about £60,000, and was fully insured. Her crew consisted of eighty-four persons; of that number six only are not natives of Great Britain. The steamer Florence landed the passengers at Cape Town. It is said that the Windsor Castle was steering too near the land, and was thirty miles too much to the eastward. By the chart there appears to be no light upon Dassen Island, and this is not the first time an accident has happened there”.
Posts : 7077 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 52 Location : Down South.
Subject: Re: Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:10 am
"It appears that the Windsor Castle sailed from Granton to Dundee on Tuesday morning, with a great number of passengers, to witness the embarkation of the Queen. The passage to Dundee was performed both safely and with expedition, and about four o'clock in the afternoon the Windsor Castle left the west protection wall of Dundee with passengers to the number of nearly 250, on her return home. The vessel steered directly out to the royal squadron, which had not yet got under way, and sailed five or six times round the 'Albert and Victoria', in order to gratify the passengers with a view of Her Majesty and her royal consort, both of whom appeared on the deck, and graciously acknowledged the enthusiastic and oft repeated cheers of those on board the Windsor Castle. The royal yacht left the roadstead at half past four o'clock, followed by the other steam vessels, and by the Windsor Castle. When off the town of St. Andrew's the Victoria and Albert, followed by the Black Eagle, the Princess Alice, the Stromboli, and the Eclair, were seen far ahead, rapidly fading from the sight. It was now half past seven o'clock; the vessel had reached the East Neuk of Fife, and all things were apparently going on safely and speedily (a party were dancing to music on deck), when suddenly a loud cry was heard from those in the forecastle to stop and back the engine, which was scarcely done the the vessel, still under the impulse of its former velocity, came with a tremendous crash against the beacon on the North Carr Rock. Instantaneously the air was rent with shrieks from the women and children, the men rushing backwards and forwards in great confusion. Some passengers clung to each other, appalled at the prospect of immediate destruction; others, with great presence of mind, began to lay hold of carpet-stools, pieces of wood, and other lumber lying on the decks, by which they might support themselves in the event of the vessel sinking, while several gentlemen divested themselves of nearly all their clothes, so that they might with more chance of success be able to sustain themselves on the ocean. At the moment the vessel struck, a large party were below at dinner. When the sea-water had attained a considerable depth in the engine room and the main cabin, the vessel lurched to one side; upon observing which, the passengers rushed to the high side of the vessel, which was thus swung over to the same side, causing the passengers to betake themselves again to the opposite side; and thus the vessel was kept rolling from side to side, the sea water being by the motion lashed up on either side of the vessel's hold. In this awful and helpless condition, the helm was put hard a-port; and after a lapse of nearly twenty minutes, passed in gloomy suspense, the Windsor Castle grounded, most providentially, as was afterwards found, between two large rocks, a little to the east of Kilminning, and about two miles from Crail. The only boat belonging to the steamer was then lowered, by which the female passengers were conveyed ashore in six voyages. Boats and other aid were then obtained from Crail, and the remainder of the passengers were providentially landed in safety. Up to this time the weather had continued favourable; but it now began to blow a violent gale, which continued all night, causing a heavy sea to beat against the vessel; consequently, the steamer, on the return of the tide, shifted from its first position, and was driven violently on a ledge of rocks close by, against which it continued to grate till it was broken in the back, and became a total wreck. It is stated that had the vessel struck the North Carr Rock stem on, she would immediately have split in two. As it was, she made a sliding stroke over the rock, some of the iron staunchions of the beacon, by the concussion opened up the joining of two plates immediately under the bulkhead, through which the water rushed into the vessel. The Windsor Castle is stated have been built on the Clyde, and to have been one of the strongest iron vessels of her size afloat. Mr Landells, at the moment the vessel struck, was in the after-cabin, in conversation with the steward; and before they got on deck she went right over on her beam-ends. Mr. Landells adds:-" My first thought was to fill my life-preserving coat, which I did directly; and, on looking round, saw the beacon against which we had struck, which I at first took for the funnel of another steamer, which I supposed we had run foul of. The captain immediately ordered her head to be put in shore, and we made all speed towards it. By this time I had mounted to the top of the paddler box, where I remained till we came in sight of land, when all fear left me. I cannot give you any idea of the scene on deck: all were looking with eager eyes towards the shore, except a group of perhaps twenty or thirty persons, that seemed to have given way to complete despair, yelling, shouting, and ringing their hands. In the fore part of the ship, I saw twelve persons holding on by a plank. They had lifted one end off the deck, and placed it on the gunwale of the ship: thus they patiently waited the result. On the vessel being stopped, the screams were again as loud and terrific as when we first struck; the ship gave one or two rolls, and then settled very quietly upon the rock. Three large fishing boats from Crail came very quickly towards us, having the wind and tide in their favour. When they left, there were yet about ten or twelve of us remaining on deck. The boatmen promised to return as soon as they could; they had got about two miles to go before they could land and we had no hope of getting off till they returned. As the tide had fallen, so that neither the small boat nor the large one could land near the wreck, I now went forward with some friends on board to see what sort of a place we were in. The moon got out, and we were delighted to see the vessel was quite dry at the bows. I then got down from the bows by rope and landed safely; several people came towards us with torches. I got my bag and coat thrown down to me, and while my friends were getting out, I made the sketch which you will have in the ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS this week. It was a romantic scene: the huge black looking ship, the moon lighting the sea, the black rocks, and the people with torches, altogether made a fine effect. To get to the shore was yet a difficult task, as the rocks were so very rough; but we succeeded and got to our inn. I went down to the wreck next morning, and was surprised to find it covered with water. I waited till the tide went down a little, and got a boat, and went on board to see if I could save my box. The vessel had broken in two, and every thing was floating about in the greatest confusion; she had a pretty cabin, and it was quite painful to see the beautiful furniture and fittings floating about at the mercy of the sea. We We saved a few passengers' luggage, but I could not find my box, and returned to shore, thinking it had washed away. On my landing, one of the Coastguard men told me there were two boxes at a cottage a little way off, and, to my joy, one of them was mine. I put it on my shoulder, and had to carry it about three miles along a coast, the like of which I never saw before, or wish to see again." This catastrophe presents another instance of the inefficient manner in which steam vessels are provided with the means of escape in case of accidents. "In this case, it is truly awful to think that, had the vessel gone down immediately, there was no apparent means by which, in any human probability, one of 260 individuals on board could have been saved. There was only one boat, and that so small as to be incapable of holding more than half a dozen persons, which, in the frenzy of the moment would have been, undoubtedly, swamped by the eager multitudes rushing into it. Does not such a state of matters call upon the Government to devise some means of compelling every sea-going steam vessel to carry at least two or three good boats? The paddle box boats of Captain Smith have been found in several instances of invaluable service, and every steam-vessel should be provided with them, or with other efficient means of preserving life in cases of danger. The Windsor Castle had also no apparatus for making signals, neither gun nor rocket was on board, and vain was the attempt of the despairing multitude, by uniting their voices, to bring help from the nearest land, which, at least, was four miles distant from them."
Lieutenant Melville's courage at the Wreck of the Winsor