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Unfavourable wind puts lives in danger

Year 1863

Read by Craig Haslam – Life Governor, Royal Humane Society

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February 19, 1863

On the 19th February 1863, Lieutenant G. H. Turner, Lieutenant W. B. White, 50th Regiment, with his servant (a native), one boat-man and one coolie, started from a bungalow situated at Kinniah the mouth of the Tumbligam lake, to return to Fort Frederick ; the weather was squally, and the wind unfavourable. When about half way between Marble Point and Hound Island, the boatman from the bows shouted, “Ropes gone, Sir;” Lieutenant Turner immediately moved forward, and, a squall catching the boat at the moment, she was upset ; they subsequently discovered that the mainstay to windward had carried away ; they all got on the gunwale and seeing there was no chance of righting the boat they cut away all the rigging. It was about 6.30 p.m. and almost dark ; the boat was drifting out fast. Lieutenant Turner said there is no use stopping here, I am sure to get cramp, so I will make for the shore, and if I reach it will bring you off assistance. He was told to do what he thought best, but advised to remain, as the sharks might take him.

He stripped and went off, having more than a mile and a half to swim to the place where he landed, a heavy sea running ; he luckily escaped the sharks, and on landing ran off to the nearest village, where he obtained a canoe, and returned in search of the boat and succeeded in finding it.

During the time he was away. Lieutenant White not only had to prevent himself from being washed off the wreck, but had to support his native servant who had lost all nerve, whom he managed to keep afloat up to the time the canoe reached them, when unfortunately the coolie in getting into the canoe turned the boat over again, at which moment the servant disappeared, and although they searched for him they were unsuccessful. The boatman started for the shore at the same time as Lieutenant Turner, and reached it, but remained in the jungle near where he had landed until next morning.

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