Ryde Lifeboat Disaster 1 January 1907 – RSHG RSHG

Selina Lifeboat

In the early afternoon of New Years Day 1907, Augustus Jarrett, master of the 56-ton barge “Jane”, complained to Mr Brooks, Chief Officer of the Coastguards, that a boat belonging to the barge had been stolen and he was referred to the police. It was later thought the boat had not been tied up properly and the rising tide and wind had carried her away.

Later in the afternoon a man was seen to put off from the Dover Street slipway in a small boat and was observed…

Source: Ryde Lifeboat Disaster 1 January 1907 – RSHG RSHG

The Evacuation of Dunkirk, The Evacuation That Saved The British Empire?

The Withdrawal from Dunkirk, June 1940. (1940) (Art.IWM ART LD 305)

The events of May and early June 1940 were equal parts disaster and Miracle. For France, it was a complete disaster – a total military defeat by…

Source: The Evacuation of Dunkirk, The Evacuation That Saved The British Empire?

The Secret Disaster

I knew about this disaster but not the details. Horrific.


It was 1944, and the troops were waiting nervously for the barrage on the beach to end. Their stomachs heaved as their clumsy landing craft rode the swell. Nearby, the support vessels and destroyers watched as their orderly line headed for the landing spot. The men concentrated on trying to overcome their sea sickness, their impending landing and the assault they’d have to make once they made it to shore.

This wasn’t the heart-in-mouth assault on the beaches of Normandy on June 6 – one of history’s greatest ever naval landings that signalled the end of Hitler’s dominance in Europe. No, this was a few weeks earlier – at Slapton Sands, a beautiful beach in Devon, England.

It was a Royal Navy and US Army training exercise called Operation Tiger – the last one before the real thing. But the events that would unfold on the morning of April 28…

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1,340 Perish As Titanic Sinks (1912) | The Yesteryear Gazette

Originally posted on The Yesteryear Gazette.

(From the New York Tribune – April 16, 1912)

Only 886, Mostly Women and Children, Rescued

Wireless from Olympic’s Captain Gives News and Weeping Women Gather at White Star Offices to Learn Fate of Relatives – 1,323 Passengers on Ship and Crew of 890


No Word from Virginian or Parisian, Which Vice-President Franklin Hopes Saved Others – Disaster Greatest in History, if Hope is Unfounded – Captain Believed to Have Gone Down at His Post of Duty

The White Star liner Titanic sank at 2:20 a.m. yesterday about 1,150 miles east of Sandy Hook.

First report placed the number of survivors, passengers and crew, at 675. At 2:30 o’clock this morning a dispatch relayed by the Olympic said the number aboard the Carpathia was 166.

A still later dispatch said that the Allan Line steamer Virginian had probably picked up some of the victims.

P. A. S. Franklin, vice-president of the International Mercantile Marine Company, admitted last night that probably only 675 out of more than 2200 souls on the lost vessel were saved, which means that more than 1,500 persons went down with her.

When the full text of the Olympics message was given out it was found that it estimated the lost at 1,800.

Shortly before 11 o’clock last night a slight ray of hope that…

via 1,340 Perish As Titanic Sinks (1912) | The Yesteryear Gazette.

October 17 1814: London Beer Flood


On October 17 1814, enormous vats of beer. located in the Horseshoe Brewery, explode. A torrent of beer escapes and floods the surrounding streets of Central London. Some 323,000 gallons or 1,470,000 liters of beer escape.  A wave of beer rises some fifteen feet high. It is a grand disaster that would be comical but for the fact that eight or nine people are killed, including a four year old girl, Hannah Banfield, who is having tea with her mother.

The writer  Martyn Cornell has the best description of what happened.  He writes:

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Sicilian Earthquake 28 December 1908

At 5.20am on 28th December, 1908, an earthquake of a 7.5-magnitude struck the coast of Sicily and shattered thousands of lives.

Two photo reporters among the ruins after the earthquake in Messina (december 1908).

Two photo reporters among the ruins after the earthquake in Messina (december 1908).

The death toll of over 100,00 people comprised Sicilians and mainland Italians, and destroyed several towns, most notably, Messina, a city of 158,000, where ‘about one in every three perished‘. As with so many disasters in the last hundred years, and doubtless before, it was the quality of construction work that proved Messina’s downfall. And while new codes were put in place to make sure buildings would no longer collapse so easily, it is horrifying to note that by the end of the 50s, there were families still living in temporary accommodation that had been built soon after. The quake was felt throughout the mainland, and as far as Montenegro, Albania and the Ionian Islands.

Clearing away the ruins on route to Catania, Sicily (after the 1908 Messina earthquake)

Clearing away the ruins on route to Catania, Sicily (after the 1908 Messina earthquake).

The tsunami that followed saw waves almost as high as 40 feet, which crashed ashore at Reggio di Calabria on the mainland before hitting the island of Malta.

‘Experts long surmised that the tsunami resulted from seafloor displacement caused by the earthquake. However, research completed in the early 21st century suggested that an underwater landslide, unrelated to the earthquake, triggered the ensuing tsunami.’

It was this tsunami that affected the ship that was taking my great grandparents, Dora and Benedict Hoskyns, from Algiers to Florence. In a letter to her mother, Dora describes the journey.

Villa Medici

[December/January 1908]


Darling Angel,

We have just got here & at present still feel so stupified by all we have gone through that I hardly know how to write. As you know we left Algiers on Sunday night last at 11, & were timed to get to Genoa on Tues. morning at 3 in the morning.

Everything went well till Mon. morning when at about 10, the wind began to cut up & got worse & worse so that by the time it was dark it was blowing a hurricane. I can never describe to you that awful night. The groaning & straining of the ship, the crack of breaking things, the screaming tearing wind & the great terrible waves thundering against the ship & the sea racing up & down past our port-hole. Our luggage was hurled down & tore backwards & forwards across our cabin all night. Darling it was the only time one had ever been face to face with what might have been the end of everything & the horror of it was simply appalling.

We were 24 hrs. in the Gulf of Lyons, instead of 10 & were 18 hrs. late in getting to Genoa where there was intense anxiety as to our fate. Of course we knew nothing then of the terrible catastrophe at Messina, but it was all at the same time & was evidently part of the same fearful under the sea convulsion.

Dear Ben was in the berth above me & whenever it was more than usually terrifying I saw his hand come down to hold mine & I said to him at last “well anyhow we are together.” We felt calm on the whole but I was terribly terribly frightened, but it was the next day when things had got better that we felt utterly worn out & shattered.

The bodies of victims in Messina

The bodies of victims in Messina

I hear that the Lord Mayor has started a fund & as it may be closed before we get back wd. you send £3.3.0 from “D.K.H.” “a Thanksoffering”. I shd. like to give something & Ben is going to, but I want to at once & I will give you the cheque as soon as we get home.

Half-way through the night we cd. tell by the way the waves broke that the Capt. had altered the course of the ship & he let her run before the storm or I don’t think she cd. have lived. He was on the bridge all night & it was a wonderful thing to think of, the safety of the whole ship in the hands of one or two men.

People on board who had been through typhoons, terrible Atlantic storms, said they had never had such an experience. I simply lay & said my prayers & all the hymns & psalms I cd. think of & we do feel more than thankful & grateful to have been brought safely through it all. I shall never as long as I live forget it. Looking back only makes it seem worse.

The joy of getting to this dear place [Villa Medici] was immense. The quiet & peace & stillness is beautiful & we are just going to sit still & recover. Poor Ben is dreadfully tired of course but I think he will sleep well & need do nothing but rest & try to forget. Will you let Moley & Geraldine see this. I can’t write often of it all.

Goodbye my precious darling. How how thankful I am to think we shall see you all again.

Fondest dearest of love,

Yr. own most loving grateful child,


View of Florence from Fiesole

View of Florence from Fiesole

Sarah Vernon © 2 June 2014