This article is based upon some quotes from an old Yorkshire historian Canon Cooper on Shipwrecks.
The most terrible wreck of our times was that of the Titanic, the fight for places in Lifeboats so desperate a ships officer had to walk up and down with revolvers threatening to shoot any man that attempted to get a place in the lifeboats before women and children were provided for.
With that pandemonium of frightened people fighting for their lives might be compared the foundering of the Indian troop ship, crowded with soldiers and their wives and families, when we read that all the men stood at attention on the deck till - till the women and children were safe in the boats - and then the firing of the parting volley as a salute to those about to perish, the ship went down.
Canon Cooper was living at the seaside during two fateful storm - November 22nd 1880 and 12th March 1883. He remembers "in the most dangerous spots the women were even more anxious about the saving of life than the men were, and in one case where the Lifeboatmen hesitated to face the dangerous sea, the taunts of the women, who called them 'cowards' drove them out against their will".
"I remember two brothers of the name Douglas being at sea with their father. One brother was washed overboard, and the other plunged in after him, telling his father before he went that he dared not face his mother without him".
"I remember one mother listening to the account of the drowning of the other brother told by another. The mother asked with infinite scorn 'How come you to survive?'"
Whenever there is a shipwreck the people are divided into three categories:
- Those who could swim
- Those who got a plank to support them
- Those who were not able to get a plank.
It is easy to think that you can swim. It is one thing to swim across a swiming bath, with the attendant watching on, ready to give help in case of need. It is another thing to swim a mile or two at sea, and at the end reach a shore at the foot of steep cliffs, up which only the sea birds and egg gatherers could climb. But some men succeed where others fail.