Witness to tragedy

The telegram received by William Halls mother  still upsetting to read 78 years on.

NOSTALGIA WITH BOB HIND: Curse of the telegram: Dear Mrs Hall – your son is dead

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On this day HMS Royal George, one of the most famous ships in the navy, was at Spithead being listed to port to enable minor repairs to be made.

According to witness, a carpenter called James Ingram, a sloop carrying rum came alongside at 9am and started unloading.

Water lapped over the gun ports which Ingram pointed out to the office of the watch who gave him ‘a very short answer’.

The problem worsened and Ingram spoke again to the officer, who replied: ‘Damn, sir, if you can manage the ship better than I can, you had better take command.’

The a sudden breeze forced her further over, water poured in and the ship rolled onto her side and sank in an instant.

She took with her about 1,200 people, about 230 of whom managed to escape from the ship.

Up to 300 women and 60 children who were visiting the ship were among those who died.

Bodies resurfaced, 30 or 40 at a time, for several days afterwards – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.