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Man saved from wreckage of a brig during a hurricane

Year 1902

Read by James Lifford – Life Governor, Royal Humane Society

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Henderson, Alexander C., Third Officer, S.S. City of Corinth.

Stanhope Gold Medal 1902

On the 1st February, 1902, the S.S. City of Corinth, while crossing the Bay of Biscay on her voyage to London, encountered a tremendous hurricane with a mountainous sea running. About 8.30 a.m., the storm being then at its height, the French brig Eugene Raoul was sighted, she being then in distress, labouring heavily, and shortly after was seen to founder at a distance of about half a mile. The City of Corinth was then circled round the place where the brig disappeared in the hope of picking up any survivors one man was seen hanging on to some wreckage which was floating about.

Lifebelts and ropes were thrown, but he was too exhausted to avail himself of them. Alexander Henderson, third officer of the steamer, then went over the side with a line, but had great difficulty in reaching the man. Several times he got quite close to him, when a huge wave would cause the ship to lurch, and drag him away. At one time he would be high on top of a wave, and next down in the trough of a sea, and once he was right under his own ship. Eventually he managed to reach him, and fastened the line round him, when both were hauled on board, the rescued man, who was the sole survivor, did not regain consciousness for five hours.

Great risk was incurred owing to the fearful storm then raging.

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