The Collision in the English Channel

’TWAS on a Sunday morning, and in the year of 1888,
The steamer “Saxmundham,” laden with coal and coke for freight,
Was run into amidships by the Norwegian barque “Nor,”
And sunk in the English Channel, while the storm fiend did roar.

She left Newcastle on Friday, in November, about two o’clock,
And proceeded well on her way until she received a shock;
And the effects of the collision were so serious within,
That, within twenty minutes afterwards, with water she was full to the brim.

The effects of the collision were so serious the water couldn’t be staunched,
So immediately the “Saxmundham’s” jolly-boat was launched;
While the brave crew were busy, and loudly did clatter,
Because, at this time, the stem of the steamer was under water.

Then the bold crew launched the lifeboat, without dismay,
While their hearts did throb, but not a word did they say;
They tried to launch the port lifeboat, but in that they failed,
Owing to the heavy sea, so their sad fate they bewailed.

Then into the jolly-boat and lifeboat jumped fifteen men in all,
And immediately the steamer foundered, which did their hearts appal,
As the good ship sank beneath the briny wave,
But they thanked God fervently that did them save.

Oh! it was a miracle how any of them were saved,
But it was by the aid of God, and how the crew behaved;
Because God helps those that help themselves,
And those that don’t try to do so are silly elves.

So the two boats cruised about for some time,
Before it was decided to pull for St. Catherine;
And while cruising about they must have been ill,
But they succeeded in picking up an engineer and fireman, also Captain Milne.

And at daybreak on Sunday morning the men in the lifeboat
Were picked up by the schooner “Waterbird” as towards her they did float,
And landed at Weymouth, and made all right
By the authorities, who felt for them in their sad plight.

But regarding the barque “Nor,” to her I must return,
And, no doubt, for the drowned men, many will mourn;
Because the crew’s sufferings must have been great,
Which, certainly, is soul-harrowing to relate.

The ill-fated barque was abandoned in a sinking state,
But all her crew were saved, which I’m happy to relate;
They were rescued by the steamer “Hagbrook” in the afternoon,
When after taking to their boats, and brought to Portland very soon.

The barque “Nor” was bound from New York to Stettin,
And when she struck the “Saxmundham,” oh! what terrible din!
Because the merciless water did rush in,
Then the ship carpenters to patch the breach did begin.

But, alas! all their efforts proved in vain,
For still the water did on them gain;
Still they resolved to save her whatever did betide,
But, alas! the ill-fated “Nor” sank beneath the tide.

But thanks be to God, the major part of the men have been saved,
And all honour to both crews that so manfully behaved;
And may God protect the mariner by night and by day
When on the briny deep, far, far away!

Fatal Collision in the Channel

On the arrival, last evening, at Weymouth of two shipwrecked crews, intelligence was received of a disastrous collision which took place about 2 o’clock yesterday morning some 30 Miles east-north-east of St. Catherine’s Point, and by which it is feared 22 lives have been lost. The vessels were the steamer Saxmundham, of London, 1,632 tons, from Newcastle to Ancona, with coal and coke, Captain Milne, and the Norwegian barque Nor, of Stettin, Captain Bjonness, laden with petroleum. It appears that the Saxmundham left the Tyne on Friday, and everything went well until Saturday night, when very bad weather was experienced, it being exceedingly dark with heavy rain. About 2 o’clock yesterday morning, almost without any warning, the Nor came into collision with the steamer, striking her amidships on the starboard side, and with such force that she began to fill. Most of the crew were at that time below, and on rushing on deck and seeing what had happened they began to launch the boats. The jollyboat was the first one got out, and was successfully launched, after which the starboard lifeboat was swung overboard. At this time the steamer’s stern was under water, and she was rapidly foundering. The remaining men on board were engaged in getting out the port lifebeat, but owing to the heavy sea she would not swing clear, and before they could get another out the Saxmundham foundered, going down in less than ten minutes after the collision. The captain was picked up by the lifeboat, as were also the second engineer and a fireman, the latter being then almost at his last gasp. There were now eighteen in the lifeboat, five having left her when she was launched, and ten in the jollyboat, leaving 12 to be accounted for. The Nor was hailed, but no response could be obtained, and the chief mate, who was in the jollyboat, warned those in the other one not to come near her as she was foundering. The boats were somewhat damaged in being launched, and it was with difficulty they could be kept afloat, the water having to be baled out with the men’s boots. The weather was very stormy, and after consultation it was decided to pull for St. Catherine’s Point. After the boats had become separated the lifeboat signalled a distant barque, which showed a light, but whether to indicate that the crew of the jollybeat were safe or not is unknown. The lifeboat was kept before the wind, the sea and wind all the time increasing to such an extent that it was feared the boat would founder every moment. A little before daybreak a steamer passed somewhat near, but did not see the boat. They knocked about until daybreak, when they hailed a schooner, which proved to be the Waterbird, of Liverpool, Captain Williams, who backed yards and waited until they pulled up to her and then took them on board and landed them at Weymouth. Shortly after the steamer Shagbrook, Of London, arrived at Portland, having on board the captain and crew of the Norwegian barque. No tidings of the missing jollyboat’s crew have as yet come to hand. The names of the survivors of the Saxmundham are Captain Milne ; Mr. Nicholson, second engineer; Mr. Jackson, third engineer; Thompson Patterson, fireman; and William Mackenzie, J. McLaren, W. McAllister, and E. Saunders, seamen. The abandoned barque Nor was taken in tow by Her Majesty’s ship Monarch, and when last seen (at 3 p.m.) was about 15 miles west-south-west of St. Catherine’s, steering up Channel.

The following telegram, which was received in London last evening, probably refers to the same disaster:- “This morning a barque was observed off Ventnor flying signals of distress, having apparently been in collision. At 10 o’clock- a steamer spoke to her; but although the vessel was waterlogged the crew did not leave her, Soon afterwards she broached too and became unmanageable. Another steamboat went to her assistance, and, presumably, took the hands off, as the barque’s boats were towing alongside. About noon an English man-of-war steamed round her, and after remaining alongside about two hours steamed to the eastward, after signalling her name and particulars to St. Catherine’s. When last seen from Ventnor the barque was seven miles west-south-west of St. Catherine’s, and apparently making for the shore, on which she must run if the wind continued in the same direction — from the south-south-east. Tugs were telegraphed for.”

The Times, 5th November 1888

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