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Author Topic: The Fate of the Rose, Whitstable  (Read 3678 times)

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Offline kyn

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The Fate of the Rose, Whitstable
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2009, 19:44:02 »
On the 21st March 1901, a Thursday, disaster struck for the crew of seven on the 'Rose'.  The 96ft, brigantine was anchored off Whitstable with 300 tons of coal on board when strong winds pushed her towards the Red Sands.  She was two miles from the Girdler, a lightship who failed to see the flares and fire started to attract attention to their perilous situation.
The Rose's hull was spit open and was sunk within five minutes, her crew managed to clamber up on her rigging however only three of them survived, the gale force winds and freezing temperatures were devastating to the crew who were trapped there for 30 hours.
The ship was spotted at four in the afternoon on the day it had sunk by Captain J. R. Daniels, manager of Whitstable Shipping Company and owner of the Rose, the Captain saw through his binoculars that the men were still onboard however it had previously been assumed that they had left the vessel somehow.  He immediately sent out a telegram to Margate and Eliza Harriet was dispatched to pick up the crew, unfortunately it was dark when they reached the area the wreck was meant to be and the search had to be postponed until day break, the boat retired to Whitstable harbour for the night.  Four o'clock the next morning Eliza Harriet resumed her search and very soon found the wreck, the three survivors were lowered onto the boat, one being unconscious, they were found wrapped up in a sail together to keep warm.  Once returned to shore two of the survivors, Captain George Frend and Master Wallace Adams walked home with help but John Stevens, Seaman, was taken to Rolfe's Harbour Street Coffee Tavern on a stretcher where after some warmth and careful attention he regained consciousness.  It was not until later the story became known when the Whitstable Times reported that Captain Frend said:
I was in the cabin when we struck the sands.  The vessel went down in five minutes.  Before I could get out of the cabin water was coming in, and I only had time to shout to the crew to look out for themselves and take to the rigging.  Fortunately one of them was able to get a bucket containing paraffin and some cotton waste.  As soon as we got in the rigging we set fire to it and it burnt for quarter of an hour.  We made quite sure the men on the Girdler Lightship would see us, as the vessel was not two miles away.  They apparently did not, and we had to hang on till daybreak, having full confidence that when daylight came help would soon be at hand, wearily the time drew on and hour after hour passed by.  There were seven altogether on board myself, and the mate Wallace Adams, John Stevens, the man who was saved with us; Darkey Tomas and three others, including a boy who was formerly in the training academy ship 'Cornwall'.
I cannot tell you their names.  I generally addressed them by nick-names. When I engaged them they signed the papers, which have unfortunately been lost.  I know Darkey came out of the Eagle, while the boy had been working in a tannery in Canterbury, which he'd left about two months ago.
I never gave up hope myself, but when not a soul came near us and we had nothing to eat or drink the others began to lose heart.  The wind was very biting and seemed to go right through us.  Darkey was the first to go.  He dropped off exhausted and we saw him washed away.
Later on two of the other men went mad.  Their sufferings were most agonising.  First they laughed and then they gave way to despair, foaming at the mouth.  Ne went overboard at eight o'clock on Thursday evening and he was followed soon afterwards by the other one.
The lad went sometime n the early hours of the morning, not long before help reached us.  One of the men fell from the cross yard and hung by his foot in front of us for some time.  I shall never forget his distorted features with foam coming from his mouth.
How we three who were saved managed to hang on s long as we did I cannot tell.  I kept shouting to them to hang on, saying that while there was life there was hope.
Captain Frend also said that when the lifeboat did arrive they grew very excited even though they were all exhausted.
In all my life I have never gone through such an experience.  We were thirty hours without food or drink.
Once the Eliza Harriet had found the survivors she battled against strong winds and waves to pull up alongside the Rose using the oars.  Once the survivors were onboard, one being lifeless, she struggled to get clear of the wreck.  The last short distance to the harbour was travelled in a dinghy due to the low tide.
Three months later the Whitstable Coastguard was patrolling along the beach when they found a body near Tankerton Pier, after examining the survivors admitted they did not recognise the remains of the clothes however later a skull was dredged up from near the site of the wreck, possibly the remains of one of the crew members.


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