Witness to tragedy

A little fuzzy perhaps but here we see Portsdown Hill Road where it meets London Road. The George pub would be on the right behind the soldiers. 'Picture: Barry Cox Collection

NOSTALGIA: PoWs forced to cut height of Portsdown Hill

Have your say

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.