Waterbodies & Maritime => Wrecks & Disasters => Topic started by: kyn on November 15, 2009, 14:50:01

Title: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on November 15, 2009, 14:50:01
Plaque behind Sheerness War Memorial
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on August 22, 2010, 12:12:27
DOVER INDUSTRIES LIMITED
SHIPBREAKERS
IRON, METAL, MACHINERY & RUBBER MERCHANTS
RAILWAY MATERIAL
THE DOCKYARD
DOVER
9th September, 1937.
The Director of Navy Contracts,
Admiralty,
London, S.W.1.

Dear Sir,
Wreck. H.M.S. "Bulwark".
We have nearly completed our third years' work on this wreck, the main result being that we will have benefitted by experience only, and are left with the conviction the profitable salvage work cannot be expected in the future.
It is therefore our intention to abandon the wreck at 30th instant, and we might add that it has been a thankless struggle against strong tides, mud and indescribably shattered wreckage made more difficult by lack of any visibility under water.
We hope the Admiralty still have in mind the question of dispersing this wreck for although the area has now been made safe for small craft, there being 14ft. of water over the highest points of all wreckage at low tide, it still remains a great menace to larger ships, particularly the Oil Tankers that have to call at the Oil Jetty recently built ahead of the "Bulwark" wreckage.
To reach this Jetty, ships have to closely detour the submerged wreckage and although this is a fairly safe manoeuvre in good conditions it can be just the reverse in bad weather.  We have seen enough of the area in winter time with S. Westerly winds prevailing, to know that if one of these ships were ever swept across an ebb tide se would have the greatest difficulty in avoiding a drift onto wreckage.
Apart from this, we have seen vessels occasionally disregard the wreck buoy and pass on the North side, actually over the wreckage.  As an instance of this, we mention that one of the Medway passenger steamers passed 350 ft. on the inside of the wreck buoy when at that time, there was high wreckage on this area, and an hours difference in the state of tide might easily have meant disaster.
These are the plain facts as we have seen them during our three years work and whether we do the dispersal work or someone else, it is in our opinion an absolute necessary for the safety of men and ships that the wreck be properly dispersed.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on August 27, 2010, 21:19:12
The contract position is set forth in C.P.35235/36 attached.
The Company have the option to abandon the wreck and could have done so last May but decided to carry on operations for a further season.
The Company have now given notice of their intention to abandon the wreck on the 30th September.  It becomes necessary, therefore, to make arrangements for the maintenance by the Admiralty of the marking and lighting as from that date, and also to ascertain whether the conditions refereed to at "A" and "B" of the copies of letters dated 8th May and 2nd August, 1935, enclosed, have been duly complied with.
If no objection is seen, perhaps you will take necessary action regarding these points.  You will see that the matter is urgent.
The question of dispersal of the wreck was carefully explored early this year, but in view of the Company's remarks, this matter will be taken up by this Department on return of these papers.

E.C.?uff
D. of C.
15/9/37
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on August 28, 2010, 12:36:25
Dover Industries now offer to disperse this wreck to a depth of 35ft. at low water for the sum of 10,000, the Admiralty to supply up to 50 tons of explosive.
In view of the Company's remarks will Dept. please say whether there are any reasons for departing from the decision given on C.P. 36235/36 attached.
Very early remarks would be appreciated.
H. Ford.
D. of Contracts
23-9-37
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on September 14, 2010, 19:12:46
From precious opinions of the Solicitor, it appears that provided the wreck of our H.M. ship is properly marked, the Admiralty is not liable for any damage which might result from a ship colliding with the wreckage.  The wreck is within the Dockyard Port of Sheerness, but the Dockyard Ports Regulations Act merely permits the K.H.M. to remove a wreck which obstructs navigation it does not place upon him the duty of doing so.  In the case of Chatham and Sheerness the specific duty of marking wrecks would appear to fall upon him.

According to the Medway Conservators (?)(N.L. 3488/37 now attached) and Messrs Berry Wiggins and Co. the wrecks, although marked, impedes and endangers navigation.  If this were the case of a merchant ship the Medway Conservators would have the duty of removing it and would recover the expenses from the owner, unless defeated by a plea of abandonment which would be valid if the sinking of the ship was not due to any negligence on the part of the owners.  The Conservators powers do not extend to wrecks of H.M. ships.

The circumstances in which the Bulwark sank are not know in N.L. not whether negligence on the part of the Captain and crew caused the sinking but in any case the general exemption of the Crown would prevent any action for damages against the Admiralty; the officers responsible for the sinking of ???

Ooops I didn't photograph the following page :(
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: alkhamhills on September 15, 2010, 09:46:28
Very interesting story, Kyn. What happened next? When I was working on the Medway (from Sheerness), in the 1970s, I cannot remember anything about this wreck. So I presume it must have been made safe
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: busyglen on September 15, 2010, 16:40:57
I've been reading this with interest as a friend of ours was very interested in HMS Bulwark and did quite a bit of research on it and eventually wrote a book about.  He moved to Portsmouth and was involved in the formation of the HMS Bulwark, Albion and Centaur Assoc. and was instrumental in arranging the Commemoration here in 2004.  My husband having Naval contacts helped with the arrangements on the Island and arranged for the tug to take the VIPs out to the wreck site to lay wreaths and there was a short service. There was also a service at the Sheerness Memorial, and the plaque you have shown, was attached to the back fence.  Sheppey
 Sea Cadets also took part, and afterwards all of the guests went back to their Unit for refreshments.  The following day there was a service at Gillingham Cemetery where several men were buried.  It was a very touching and fitting weekend of remembrance.

Sadly, our friend was taken ill several weeks before the event, and was unable to attend, and died a month later.  He had tried to get his book published, but at that time nobody was interested.  His wife also tried and we suggested several avenues, but then sadly she passed away also. It would be interesting if I could get hold of the book, if it is still held by the family.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on September 16, 2010, 11:44:51
Wreck of H.M.S. Bulwark

I agree generally with the position as stated in your minute of the 20th instant.  It is a little surprising to learn that N.L. are not acquainted with the circumstances in which the ship sank!  My recollection is that at an early stage of the war she blew up with the loss of all on board except one.  It proved I think impossible to find out the cause of the explosion, but there was no evidence of any negligence on the part of any Admiralty officer or servant, and it has always been denied that the Admiralty were in any way responsible for the removal of the wreck, though they have assumed the responsibility for marking and lighting it.  Provided that that responsibility is properly discharged, I do not think any liability attaches for damage caused to a vessel by the wreck.

The question therefore of any steps being taken for the removal of the wreck is in effect one of policy.  The Conservancy might perhaps be informed that whilst the Admiralty would continue to accept responsibility for the marking and lighting of the wreck, they had never admitted and could not accept any liability to remove it bu????????????????? Of the presumed advantages to the increased traffic in the harbour, the Conservancy were prepared at their own expense to undertake the removal or dispersion of the wreck, the Admiralty would accord them full liberty to do so.

I have however always held the view that a strong moral obligation rests on the Admiralty to remove wrecks of H.M. vessels which may be dangerous or obstructive to navigation:  and if this view finds support, an alternative course would be to approach the Conservancy with a view to arriving (without prejudice) at some arrangement for the removal of the wreck by the Admiralty on terms e.g. that some portion of the expense be borne by the Conservancy.

???
21st October 1937

Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on September 19, 2010, 12:00:29
A resume of the contract position is given in the Department's remarks of the 11th October in P.O.9327 attached.
Medway Conservators and Messrs. Berry Wiggins & Co. allege that the wreck impedes and endangers navigation and urge that the wreck should completely be dispersed, and Captain Plugge, M.P. supports the application.  Subject possibly to any further remarks by the Commander in Chief, Nore, D. of N. and Hydrographer see no reason for dispersing the wreck unless the clear approach to Messrs. Berry Wiggins Pier is in any way an Admiralty responsibility.
Treasury Solicitor advises that the Admiralty are not responsible for the removal of the wreck and provided the responsibility - which we have assumed - for marking and lighting is properly discharged, no liability attaches to the Admiralty for damage caused to a vessel by the wreck, and that the question of any steps being taken for its removal is one of policy.
In these circumstances, and following the previous decision on C.P.36235/36, the reply could be on the lines at "A" of Solicitor's remarks.  It is however necessary to draw attention to his remarks at "B" in which he makes an alternative suggestion grounded on a moral obligation on the Admiralty to do something in the matter, and D.N.E. supports this view.
In this connection it is pointed out that the Dover Industries' offer is to disperse the wreck for 10,000, but in addition they want 50 tons of explosives free of charge, so that dispersal would be a very costly matter.  The form of guarantee for satisfactorily completion of the work would also require careful consideration.
Dover Industries with their knowledge of the wreck and local conditions, should be in the most favourable position to make an offer but it is possible, of course, other Contractors might be prepared to undertake the work on more reasonable terms.  If therefore, it should be decided to disperse the wreck, it would be proposed to consider the question of inviting tenders from various Salvage Contractors including the South Stockton Shipbreaking Co. who are at present working on the wreck of the NATAL.
Submitted

???  Bussill
D. of C.
28/10/37
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on October 11, 2010, 13:55:20
It seems to me that the view expressed at B. of the Treasury Solicitor's note of 21st October is the right one.  I would inform the Medway Conservators that, while the Admiralty are under no obligation to remove the wreck and do not themselves consider the wreck a danger to navigation, they are, as an act of grace, willing to assist the Medway Conservators, if they desire that that the wreck should be removed.  I would make a first offer of the free provision of the explosives required.  I gather that at a rough shot the value of this is likely to be about 4,000.  I think I would be prepared to make the Admiralty an offer, if necessary, half of the total cost, that is to say, if the cost of the ammunition was actually 4,000, another 3,000 in cash.
I do not see why we should go beyond half the total cost.
It seems to me that Messrs. Berry, Wiggins & Co., who are more interested that anybody else, might well contribute something to the cost.  I think I should suggest to the Medway Conservators that they may care to consider inviting the company to contribute to the cost.
We should have to get Treasury approval to making any offer of the kind I have suggested.

RHM
1st November, 1937.

Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: Nobby007 on October 11, 2010, 16:51:36
Try this website about the tragedy, very interesting
http://www.nhcra-online.org/20c/bulwark.htm
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on October 14, 2010, 10:32:17
Concur to ask representative of the Board of Trade; it is proposed also to invite a representative from Trinity House, which actually carried out the dispersal operations in the case of the wreck of the "SPIDER".  N.L. cannot suggest any other bodies which might profitably be invited.  In the past we have received protests from the Sailing Barge Owners committee and there mat be another fishery and commercial interests involved, but it does not seem worth while inviting them in the first instance.  It is suggested that the Medway Conservancy might be asked at the Conference to consider inviting contributions from any such interests.
The following, it is suggested, might attend on behalf of the Admiralty, representatives of Hydrographer and/or D. of N; of C; D.N.E; N.L.
Before the Conference starts it will be necessary to obtain a reply from C. in C. Nore, to Admiralty letter of the 20th September (no reply can be found in these papers) to confirm that the wreck in its present condition has not made the navigational position any worse.
It may be remarked in passing that the protests be Messrs' Berry Wiggins do not carry very much weight, since they instituted their industry with the wreck already in position and with full knowledge thereof.  Similarly the Dover Industries advice that the wreck is a menace to navigation must to some extent be discredited as the opinion of interested parties, anxious to get the contract.  The facts they quote of ships passing over the wreck simply show that such ships were negligently navigated; this can hardly be used as an argument against the Admiralty.

????
For HEAD of N.L.
14 December, 1937.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on October 27, 2010, 23:51:58
23rd November, 1937.
My dear Bridges,
I do not know whether this letter really concerns you, but if it does not, perhaps you will be kind enough to pass it on to the proper quarter.
The Admiralty are considering the dispersal of the wreck H.M.S. BULWARK, which blew up and sank in the Medway during the Great War.  Various salvage operations have since been carried out on her by commercial undertakings.  The latest of these was by Dover Industries Ltd., who bought the wreck from the Admiralty in May, 1935, with an option to abandon it after two years, when the Admiralty would be obliged to resume possession, provided that certain conditions as to buoying, lighting etc. had been satisfied.  The firm has recently abandoned the wreck under this option, believing that there is no more profit to be had out of salving it.
The Medway Conservancy, hearing of the termination of Dover Industries' contract, have written to the Admiralty saying "they are still strongly of the opinion that the clearing of the bed of the river from the remains of the wreck should now be undertaken...very large developments have been made in the oil industry in the neighbourhood of the wreck.  A jetty has been built and special moorings put down for the accommodation of very large oil tankers, and the position of the wreck will form a danger to the manoeuvring of these vessels in approaching and leaving the jetty".
Messrs. Berry Wiggins, the contractors who own the jetty mentioned by the Conservancy, have written to say that they have heard with dismay of the probable discontinuance of the breaking up and removal of the wreck and that they consider that "in its present position this wreck is a serious menace to the safety of ships berthing at our Bee Ness Jetty, particularly during rough weather".  Captain L.F. Plugge, M.P. for Rochester, has also written to the First Lord suggesting that "it would be far better to get rid of this undoubted impediment to river traffic".  Finally, Dover Industries Ltd. themselves say that as a result of their experience of salving the wreck they have come to the conclusion that it is "an absolute necessity for the safety of men and ships that the wreck be properly dispersed".
We have ascertained from the Treasury Solicitor that there is no legal obligation on the admiralty to do more than light and mark the wreck (which we are now doing) and it is his opinion that no liability would attach for damage caused to a vessel by the wreck.  He suggests that one course would be to inform Conservancy that we admit no obligation to clear the wreck, but would accord them full liberty to disperse it at their own expense.  He goes on to say, however, that he has always held the view "that a strong moral obligation rests on the admiralty to remove the wrecks of H.M. vessels which may be dangerous or obstructive to navigation: And if this view finds support, an alternative course would be to approach the Conservancy with a view to arriving (without prejudice) at some arrangement for the removal of the wreck by Admiralty on terms e.g. that some portion of the expense be borne by the Conservancy".
The admiralty fully agrees with this last opinion but although it is clear that the wreck may be a considerable danger to vessels using the jetty, I must point out that our Director of Navigation does not consider it a danger or hindrance to the general traffic of the river.  The Medway Conservancy, however, have never accepted this view.
Messrs. Dover Industries have offered to disperse the wreck to a depth of 35 feet at low water for the sum of 10,000 via 50 tons of explosives.  What we propose is to suggest to the Medway Conservancy, in the first instance, that they should undertake the dispersal of the wreck (possible with the assistance of Messrs; Berry Wiggins) at their own expense, provided that the admiralty provide, free, the 50 tons of explosives.  The cost of this to the Admiralty, at a very rough estimate, would be 4,000.  Should this proposal be unacceptable to the Conservancy, we should propose to go further and offer to pay not more than half of the total cost of dispersal, i.e., a maximum of roughly 7,000.  I enclose a copy of the letter which we propose to send to the Conservancy.
It is possible that some other firm might make a better offer than Dover Industries, and no doubt the Conservancy would investigate the alternatives.
I should be very glad to know whether the Treasury agree to our making this proposal:  Dover Industries? offer is conditional on their receiving early instructions to proceed with the work.  If the Conservancy agreed to proceed on the above terms, we would write to you officially for sanction when we know a little more clearly what would be involved.
Your sincerely,
(Sd.) R. H. A. Carter
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on November 22, 2010, 21:12:08
Sir,
I am commanded by My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to refer to your letter of 29th September 1937 and to state that careful consideration has been given to your representations concerning the wreck of H.M.S. BULWARK.
My Lords are prepared to accept responsibility for the marking and buoying of the wreck, but They have never admitted and cannot accept any liability to remove it.  Moreover, in Their Lordships' view, as stated in the previous correspondence to which you refer, the wreck does not constitute a danger to navigation.
Under the proposal which has been made by Dover Industries Ltd. the company offer to disperse the wreck to a depth of 35 ft. at low water, for a fixed sum, on the understanding that the Admiralty would supply up to 50 tons of explosives.
My Lords would be glad to know whether the Conservators would be prepared to bear the cost of dispersing the wreck if the Admiralty undertook, as an act of grace, to supply the explosives.  In this connection My Lords note that reference is made in your letter to the largely increasing trade on the River, and in particular to developments in the Oil industry.  The Conservators might consider it desirable to approach Messrs. Berry Wiggins & Co. Ltd. on the question whether that Company would contribute to the cost.
I am to add that this letter is entirely without prejudice.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,

Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on January 11, 2011, 10:29:59
Wreck of H.M.S. Bulwark
Proposed dispersal.
Notes of the Meeting held at the Admiralty on 10th February, 1938.
PRESENT:
Representing the Admiralty:-


Rear Admiral F.T.B. Tower - Director of Naval Equipment.  (Chairman)
Captain W.O. Benn, R.N. - Director of Navigation.
Commander R. Ramsbotham, R.N. - King's Harbour Master, Sheerness.
Mr. B. Pool - Assistant Director of Contracts.
Mr. P.N.N. Synnott - representing Head of Naval Law Branch.

Representing the Medway Conservancy:-

Mr. F.F. Smith
Captain W.H.E. Nelson
Mr. G.A. Gill
Mr. D.L. Collard (Also representing the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom).

Representing Berry Wiggins & Co. Ltd.

Mr. T McDermot
Mr R.C. Paterson
Mr. M.T. Knight

The Chairman pointed out that the wreck had been lying for twenty years in its present position; it was well buoyed and the main channel was clear.  From the Admiralty point of view therefore, the position was not unsatisfactory.  The Admiralty had been advised that there was no liability on law to oblige them to remove the wreck.
The King's Harbour Master, Sheerness, stated that in his view removal might be done in two ways:-
(a)   Piecemeal dispersion which would leave obstructions behind on the bottom, and would therefore involve dredging afterwards.  The cost would be very large; in fact it might be impossible to dredge with an ordinary dredger.
(b)   The Coffer dam method; in a local Trinity House Pilot's estimate, this might cost 100,000 with the additional cost of dredging, which might amount to 50,000 afterwards.
The representatives of the Medway Conservancy said they considered dispersal and dredging would cost much less.  They referred to the report from the Dover Industries, offering to disperse to a level of 35 feet below low water, for 10,000 plus the cost of explosives, which offer, they suggested, should be accepted.  Local traders, pilots, fishermen and sailing ship owners had all voiced strong views on the presence of the wreck.  These other interests used other parts of the river and not only the main channel.  Traffic was increasing, and would continue to increase.  While the wreck was well marked, this marking was no use in haze of fog.  The area occupied by the wreck would be particularly useful as an anchorage.
The representatives of Berry Wiggins said that the wreck was a nuisance and a danger to ships leaving their jetty which has been built under the understanding that the wreck was to be dispersed.  The Admiralty representatives pointed out that no such understanding existed.  The King's Harbour Master, Sheerness, said that he thought the bank would continue to increase to the southwest, but never so much as to prevent ships berthing at the jetty.
Summing up, the Chairman stated that while (as previously pointed out) from the Admiralty point of view the present position was not unsatisfactory, the other interests were of opinion that dispersal of the wreck was desirable: to meet the wishes of these interests, the Admiralty would be prepared to offer assistance, but they could give no hope of doing the whole work as a charge to public funds.  They suggested therefore, that the other interests concerned should consider making a contribution.  Medway Conservancy and Berry Wiggins agreed to put this proposal to their Board, and Mr. Collard, speaking on behalf of the big ship owners, agreed provided the Admiralty would also pay a percentage.
Consideration was given to the question of securing the fulfilment of any contrast for the dispersal of the wreck.  Medway Conservancy considered that the offer from the Dover Industries was practicable and would be completed.  The King's Harbour Master, Sheerness, referred to the question of dredging after dispersal of the wreck, but it was suggested that after the wreck was dispersed, the silting problem might solve itself.
The following agreement was reached; (1)   that the wreck should be surveyed (work on this was now proceeding) Dover Industries being asked to provide any available information in their possession.
(2)   Dover Industries should be approached in connection with their offer to disperse the wreck; enquiries were to be made to ensure that this offer implied guaranteeing a clear 35 feet below low water, and the Contractor was also to be asked whether his offer included a similar guarantee in respect of the bank which had spread around and outside the actual area of the wreck.
(3)   When an estimate of costs has been made, the question of division of costs between parties concerned would be considered.
(4)   On behalf of the Admiralty, it was pointed out that the Department was not at present prepared to go beyond offering to provide the necessary explosives, at a cost of 4,000.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on March 14, 2011, 14:40:33
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0478Large.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_0479Large.jpg)
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: JohnG on March 14, 2011, 19:08:06
Kyn.  I have enjoyed reading your posts about HMS Bulwark, thank you.  JohnG
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: alkhamhills on March 14, 2011, 19:40:14
Kyn. I cannot be 100% certain, but the handwriting looks very much like my father's writing. At that time he was the "office man" for Dover Industries Ltd"
You are keeping me in suspense, Kyn, to see the outcome, as to who got the job in the end !!!
Keep it coming please
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on March 14, 2011, 19:56:14
 :)  I am glad these posts have been of interest!  I will double check to see if any names are on these pictures but I don't there are.  I think this was the last bits of that folder I am afraid, obviously if I come across any more I will add them  :)
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on August 01, 2011, 20:56:42
27 November 1914 The Milwaukee Journal

30 Bodies Recovered from Sunken Warship

Most of the corpses are mutilated almost beyond identification No official list out.

Sheerness, Eng, via London, Nov. 27.  Thirty bodies from the British battleship Bulwark were recovered from the River Thames.  The Bulwark was blown off Sheerness yesterday, presumably the result of an internal explosion.
Most of the bodies recovered are mutilated almost beyond identification.  Many pathetic scenes were witnessed as relatives gathered in an effort to obtain information concerning the warship.  Up to the present, however, the authorities have not given out a list of the lost.
Additional details concerning the Bulwark make the admiralty theory that she was blown up by an internal explosion more plausible.  An official inquiry which is being held in private was opened in Sheerness today.
It is believed there that the explosion of the Bulwark was caused by the fall and bursting of a 12-inch lyddite shell in her magazine.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on August 30, 2011, 21:48:51
HMS Bulwark, lost from internal explosion, Thursday, 26th November 1914.
List of dead and injured.http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1914-11Nov.htm (http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1914-11Nov.htm)
You will need to scroll down to 26th November.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: kyn on March 23, 2012, 12:30:01
The New York Times - 16 December 1914

No Enemy Sank Bulwark.

Ammunition Explosion Caused Disaster, England Asserts.

London, Dec 15. - The Official Press Bereua announced tonight that an explosion due to the accidental ignition of her own ammunition caused the sinking of the battleship Bulwark.
There was no evidence, the bereau said, of any hostile act.  Investigation had disclosed no evidence of treachery on the part of any person aboard the vessel or of any act by an enemy.

The British battleship Bulwark was destroyed by an explosion on Nov. 26 while lying off Sheerness.  About 800 lives were lost.
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: Richrat2000 on March 23, 2012, 14:03:37
Inquiry into loss.. A naval court of enquiry into the causes of the explosion held on 28 November 1914 established that it had been the practice to store ammunition for Bulwark's 6 in (150 mm) guns in cross-passageways connecting her total of 11 magazines. It suggested that, contrary to regulations, 275 six-inch shells had been placed close together, most touching each other, and some touching the walls of the magazine, on the morning of the explosion.

The most likely cause of the disaster appears to have been overheating of cordite charges stored alongside a boiler room bulkhead, and this was the explanation accepted by the court of enquiry. It has also been suggested that damage caused to one of the shells stored in the battleship's cross-passageways may have weakened the fusing mechanism and caused the shell to become 'live'. A blow to the shell, caused by it being dropped point down, could then have set off a chain reaction of explosions among the shells stored in Bulwark's cross-passageways sufficient to detonate the ship's magazines.

Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on July 31, 2015, 22:19:43
Twelve years ago today his Majesty's ship Bulwark-a battleship of 15,000 tons- was lying at a buoy in the Medway, between Sheerness and Chatham , when at 7.55 a.m. she blew up. The first thing noticed by eye-witnesses was a bright yellow flame in the vicinity of the mainmast, followed by a rumbling explosion not unlike a distant thunderclap. The stern of the ship was seen to come out of the water, and she was immediately enveloped in an enormous cloud of brownish-yellow smoke. When this smoke had cleared away no trace of the Bulwark remained, beyond a mass of wreckage floating around the buoy to which she had been moored.
                                        London Morning Post 27 November 1927.

Photo of the explosion, 26 November 1914 http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205024540 (http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205024540)

Two photos of the remains of HMS Bulwark, 6 February 1915.
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205283259 (http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205283259)
http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205283260 (http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205283260)

He Chose Poverty.
The British battle-ship Bulwark blew up at Sheerness in 1914. The death roll was 741. One of the survivors was Leading Seaman Charles Fitter. Recently Fitter, who is on the retired list, accepted work as night watchman aboard the Humber, the floating crane which has began salvage work on the sunken Bulwark. He signed his papers, but when the boat sailed for Sheerness from Dover he did not appear. Interviewed by a "Sunday Express" representative, he said: "I simply could not face it. Ever since I agreed to take on the work I have lived over the dreadful scene again and again. It is, more than I could bear to spend those night-watches there. My doctor has advised not to go. I could do with the money, but poverty is better than that. It has brought back all the memories I have been striving to forget."


The South-Western News (Aus) 11 October 1935.

Photo below IWM (Q21O52B)
Title: Re: HMS Bulwark
Post by: CDP on August 01, 2015, 12:19:30
A report of this disaster is in the local paper, a copy is in the Sheerness Library.
 "H.M.S.Bulwark Blown up ",   November 26th,  1914, paper printed Nov. 28th and a slightly later report is in the paper of November 3rd, 1917.