Miscellaneous Stories and Notes

Saluting Accident

Today, Tuesday, during the firing of a Royal salute, from one of the men-of-war lying in Plymouth Sound, in comemoration and honour of the restoration of the monarchy, a 12-pounder shot was fired. It passed over Plymouth Hoe and although at the time the Hoe was crowded with spectators to see the firing, the ball providentially passed over their heads. The shot then continued its course over the town and passed into an upper room of a house in Pike Street where it struck and shivered to pieces a beam and then fell spent in How's Lane, just behind Pike Street. This was the fifth occasion in as many years that a shot had been fired from an English man-of-war into the town of Plymouth.

The Times, 2 June 1810

A More Modern Accident

In August 1966, the cruiser HMS Tiger (C20) was alongside in Devonport Dockyard testing the forward gun turret. The gun barrels were depressed with a mat laid out on deck under the gun muzzles. The trial involved loading and testing firing circuits using a dummy shell with no driving band fitted, so that it would slide down the barrel and simply drop onto the mat. The loading also required a dummy cordite charge to be loaded behind the shell. There was a loud explosion and people rushed to the upper deck. It turned out that the dummy shell had been fired by a live cordite charge. The shell passed between the lower guard rail and the deck edge, ricocheted of the jetty and smashed into the underside of a dockyard crane, fortunately hurting no one.

Adapted from military-genealogy.forcesreunited.org.uk/3586/HMS_Tiger

A Steam Boat Arrives in Plymouth

'The Thames, steam boat, has excited no little curiosity in this port. She last came from Greenock, and in her passage along the Cornish coast the fishermen and others, who perceived her rapidly gliding on without masts or sails, and vomiting forth flame and smoke from her bows, con­ed her to be a sea devil and made a precipitate retreat. She is about 100 tons, and consumes when at sea a ton of coal in twelve hours. Her general rate of motion in smooth water is about seven miles an hour; but in rough weather she would be soon overwhelmed, or prevented from making any progress. She is intended to ply between London and Margate.'

Plymouth and Dock Telegraph, 10 June 1815

Loss of the Bonaventure and Rainbow

In November, 1627, a small fleet assembled in Plymouth Sound under the command of Earl Holland and Charles Viscount Wilmot. It’s task was to re-enforce  the Duke of Buckingham’s ill fated expedition to relieve French protestant Huguenots besieged by Royalist Catholic forces in  La Rochelle. During the night of 26th November a tremendous westerly gale blew 15 or 16 ships ashore in the Cattewater and Hamoaze. Amongst those lost, but salvaged at great cost in the ensuing months, were the warships; Rainbow (40 guns) and the Bonaventure (32 guns).

Courtesy P. McBride.

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