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HMS Eurydice - The Ghostly Galleon of the Isle of Wight

Ghost Story Ship Tuesday Post

HMS Eurydice was a 26 gun Royal Navy corvette named after the nymph Eurydice who was the wife of Orpheus of ancient Greek mythology. 

HMS Eurydice (2)

History

She was ordered in August 1841 and went into full commission in the Royal Navy in June 1843. The vessel was designed by Admiral the Hon. George Elliot and was the second ship to carry the name. As a fast gun frigate she was designed with a shallow draught to serve in shallow waters. She originally saw service on the North American and West Indies station between 1843 and 1846 under the command of her first captain, George Augustus Elliot who was the eldest son of the designer. Her second commander was Captain Talavera Vernon Anson and this saw her based in South Africa in the Cape of Good Hope between 1846 and 1850. Her third and fourth commanders saw her briefly in the White Sea during the Crimean War before she was returned to the North American West Indies route. This was her last seagoing service for 20 years. In 1861 she was converted into a stationary training ship in Portsmouth.  She was recommissioned again in 1877 and outfitted Cowes, Isle of Wight. She returned to seagoing service with a tour of the West Indies and Bermuda in November 1877.

Loss 

Sinking of HMS Eurydice (1)

On 6th March 1878 she set sail for Portsmouth and on 24th March 1878 after a fast crossing of the Atlantic she was spotted by the Bonchurch Lifeguard, sailing towards Spithead, Isle of Wight who reported at 15:00 "sailing hard for Spithead, moving fast under plain sail, studding sails on fore and main, bonnets and skycrapers.". At 15:40 she was sailing alongside Sandown Bay. No more than 20 minutes later a heavy squall driven by a blizzard and snow storm on land hit the vessel. It only lasted 10 minutes but it was enough to seal the fate of HMS Eurydice and her 364 crew. The storm turned the ship around and water poured into the open gun ports. All that could be seen was the top of the sails and rigging on the sea. The schooner Emma picked up 5 survivors but 3 were to die. Only 2, Sydney Fletcher and Benjamin Cuddiford, survived by the time they reached Ventnor Cottage Hospital. Although the crew were hardened sailors and good swimmers most of the survivors froze during the 10 minute storm as the sea was close to zero and driving snow was battering the surface. The rest of crew would have been trapped below decks.

Ghostly Sightings

A young Winston Churchill was said to be a witness to the disaster as he was staying in Ventnor, Isle of Wight with his nurse who stated they watched it unfold from a cliff top. On the day of the disaster, the Bishop of Rippon was dining with with Sir John MacNeill in Windsor when MacNeill suddenly exclaimed "Good Heavens! Why don't they close the portholes and reef the sails!" When asked to explain his outburst, he said he didn't know but he suddenly had a vision of a ship coming up the channel under full sail with her gun ports open as a dark squall attacked her. This was happening to HMS Eurydice 70 miles away and this premonition was just the start of the strange events.

Over the years dozens of reported sightings have been recorded of a 3 masted sailing galleon coming up the channel only to disappear in a haze when approached by other vessels. There are also dozens of reports from land of the mysterious old 3 master sailing silently by. In 1998, Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex was in the Isle of Wight filming for the TV show "Crown and Country" when he and the film crew were stopped in their tracks. They all saw out to sea, a 3 masted sailing ship and the crew managed to film it. It sailed silently toward them until it suddenly disappeared. The coastguard confirmed there were no ships int he area and the local sailing clubs also had no record of a vessel of that size in the area. Sadly, in a strange twist, in post production the camera jammed and the recording of that day was lost. People of the years have tried to explain the ghostly galleon as a trick of light or as a freak reflection of light on the mist off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

Most notably however, the best sighting was in 1930 by a Royal Navy submarine patrolling the waters off the Isle of Wight. It was Captained by Commander F. Lipscomb who reported that he had to take evasive action to avoid a collision. He reported that the submarine sighted an old 3 masted galleon, the like of which were no longer in service on the surface directly in front of the submarine. They took evasive action as to not strike the galleon and surfaced. After the manoeuvre was complete they went to look at the galleon in order to identify her for the log but she was nowhere to be seen in any direction. 

Sources 

Wikipedia

BBC Hampshire

Images

1. By Illustrated London News - Public Domain https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.phpcurid=32017863

2. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/classic/A853742