24 March 1878, the training ship for ordinary seamen HMS “Eurydice” foundered in a sudden squall off the Isle of Wight with almost all hands.
“And you were a liar, O blue March day.
Bright sun lanced fire in the heavenly bay;
But what black Boreas wrecked her? he
Came equipped, deadly-electric,
A beetling baldbright cloud thorough England
Riding: there did stores not mingle? and
Hailropes hustle and grind their
Heavengravel? wolfsnow, worlds of it, wind there?
Now Carisbrook keep goes under in gloom;
Now it overvaults Appledurcombe;
Now near by Ventnor town
It hurls, hurls off Boniface Down.
Too proud, too proud, what a press she bore!
Royal, and all her royals wore.
Sharp with her, shorten sail!
Too late; lost; gone with the gale.”
(Gerard Manley Hopkins: “The Loss of the Eurydice”)
|"The Loss of HMS Eurydice" as depicted in the London Illustrated News in 1878|
The L-Class sub ran surfaced next Rame Head, off Plymouth, Start, Portland and Wight back in 1938 when the fin watch alerted Commander Frank Lipscomb. There was a ship crossing their course. Nothing unusual in these waters in the days before radar and electronic ship reporting systems, the vessel off their bow, however, was, though: A square-rigged rag wagon of a size seldom seen off Wight since decades. Nostalgia or not, Lipscomb had to take his boat on an evasive course and all off a sudden, the windjammer just disappeared. Or so the story goes. It was one of the more spectacular sightings of a ghost ship in the Channel and the apparition was quickly traced back to the wreck of HMS “Eurydice”. The last sighting of her was seen in 1998 and she was reportedly caught on camera while an episode of "Crown and Country" was shot in Hampshire. And as if the tale of her loss wasn’t eerie enough, during lunch-time in Windsor, already a couple of hours before disaster struck, one Sir John MacNiell obviously had a fit of an da shealladh, the Second Sight of the Highlands, and cried out: "Good Heavens! Why don't they close the portholes and reef the sails?" It was quite an exact summary of what one might have cried seeing the frigate 70 miles away, about to round Dunnose Head with the monstrous black cloud drifting Channel-wards over the quarried Downs of Wight, 500’ above sea level. "Freak reflections of light on mist", visions and ghostly apparitions put aside, when “Eurydice” went down with all her passengers and crew but two, one of the worst peacetime naval disasters ever had hit the Royal Navy.
|The somewhat eerie figurehead of HMS "Eurydice", now at the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard*|
|William Broome (1838–1892): "Wreck of HMS 'Eurydice' Being Towed into Portsmouth Harbour"|
* The image depicted above was found on
And more about the loss of HMS “Eurydice” on: