Jersey Independent and Daily Telegraph 8th December 1900
FOUNDERING OF THE ROSSGULL
CAPTAIN AND EIGHT OF THE CREW MISSING – INTERVIEW WITH THE SURVIVORS
Once again it is our painful duty to have to record a maritime disaster on these rocky shores, which already recall many painful memories – which, by a sad coincidence, have even this week been revived by the visit to the Islands of Miss Greta Williams, the charming songstress, who boasts the title of ” the Stella Heroine.”
These waters have indeed of late been singularly unfortunate. On the present occasion the Caskets are not to blame for this fresh example of the dangers of navigation; the night was gusty and thick, and in fact, off the Corbiere it was well-nigh impossible to distinguish objects at any long distance, while heavy rain fell.
Those who were last evening awaiting the arrival of the steamship Rossgull, from Plymouth and Guernsey, were destined to receive a rude shock, the arrival of a boat load of shivering passengers conveying the all too true intelligence that this smart craft had foundered somewhere between the Corbiere and Noirmont Point.
Briefly, so far as at present ascertained, the Rossgull, which belonged to the Anglo-French Steamship Co. Ltd. (locally represented by Capt. J.D.B. Le Couteur), left Plymouth at 3 o’clock on Tuesday with passengers and a general cargo for the Channel Islands.
All went well to and after leaving Guernsey at 8pm yesterday, and at 9.30pm the mate appears to have reported that he saw the Corbiere light, the weather then being “very dirty.”
At about a quarter to 11 the ship struck on rocks, supposed to be the Grande Grune or Petite Grune, which lies off St. Brelade’s Bay.
Orders were then given to immediately reverse the engines, which was done, and two rockets were then fired, and attempts were then made to get the ship off.
A boat was promptly lowered, in which was placed the passengers, eight in all, who included an English lady (Miss Sall) and her maid (Miss Williams), two Frenchmen, two Frenchwomen, and a child, also a young sailor, Stanley Gillichan.
They were accompanied by three of her crew – Elijah Jarman Emptage (boatswain), Chas. Hattam, A.B. and Walter Chick (fireman), who at once rowed for St Helier’s harbour, finally arriving at Albert Pier Slip at 1.45 o’clock.
It seems their boat was attached to the stern, but the painter parted and sent them adrift.
As they were leaving the ship they saw the Captain, the mate and the Engineer, still on board, but apparently preparing to get into the second boat.
The passengers, with the exception of Mr Stanley Gallichan, were bound for Brittany. All speak highly of the perfect order which was kept, the commands of the Captain being implicitly obeyed and no panic whatever occurred.
They were met on landing at Albert Quay, or shortly afterwards, by P.C. Higgins – for the Company’s agent (Capt. Le Couteur) had gone home after awaiting the arrival of the Rossgull for some hours, though the “lumpers” remained.
P.C. Higgins at once conducted the unfortunate people to the Police Station. Capt. Le Couteur on being informed of the disaster immediately came on the scene and took the survivors to the Temperance Hotel, where they received every attention.
The lighthouse-keeper at the Corbiere sighted a passing steamer at about 15 minutes to 10, and which he believes to have been the Rossgull.
The St. Helier’s lifeboat was launched from “London Bay” shortly before 5 o’clock, and a pilot boat went out under sail soon after. The former returned at 10 a.m. to-day, having gone as far as La Moye, without seeing any trace of either the Rossgull or the missing boat.
An alarm was also raised from Elizabeth Castle, and search parties organised along the coast.
This morning Captain Breach, of the out-going Great-Western steamer, was asked to report if he saw anything of the Rossgull or the missing boat on the way to Guernsey. He afterwards sent the following telegram to the Harbour-Master from Guernsey: “Seen nothing.”
The Captain of the incoming South Western steamer also stated he had seen nothing of the wreck or boat in crossing from Guernsey.
The crew of the ill-fated vessel was composed as follows: Captain F.A.Blampied; H.Blackmore, mate; G.Besant, engineer; M. Banks, second engineer; Williams, steward; G. Mission, Elijah Jarman Emptage (boatswain), and Chas. Hattam seaman, F. Whiteway and Walter Chick, fireman; another seaman whose name is not known, he only having just been engaged, and the cook.
Of these, only Emptage, Hattam and fireman Chick, have landed – it appears but too apparent the remainder have found a watery grave.
Capt. Blampied, who had been mate and then master of the Commerce for many years, had commanded the Rossgull since she had been on this station; was well known and highly esteemed as a careful and able navigator. Mrs Blampied and their five children have lived in Plymouth for two years past.
A paraffin or petroleum cask, evidently from the Rossgull, has been washed ashore in the “big roads” and a quantity of wreckage is this afternoon reported by the Corbiere light-house-keeper to be in St Brelade’s Bay.
Experts say the Rossgull must have struck on the “Grand Grune” and then slid off into deep water-though her engines were apparently going astern when she was last seen by the survivors.
Two of the crew were clothed and otherwise attended to by the Agent of the Shipwreck Mariners’ Society (Mr. F. La Seur) and will be sent back to their homes in Plymouth as soon as possible. These men are Boatswain Emptage and Hattam, A.B.
This Christmas – a season usually associated with joy and happiness – breaks sadly upon us. Wars and rumours of wars are rife, and the loss of the Rossgull will bring mourning to more than one at home.
There will be those who will point to this last incident as a fresh example of the dangers of the navigation in the Channel Island seas, but all navigation is more or less perilous, and there is no reason to consider the voyage from Plymouth to Jersey more dangerous than any other sea transit.
A quantity of wreckage was picked up in St. Clement’s bay this afternnon, included an oar, two deckchairs, several articles of clothing and a bag of onions.
The Mercury, Tasmania, Tuesday morning 11th December 1900:
THE WRECK OF THE ROSSGULL A LONELY WAIF.
A man named Whiteway, a fireman employed on the steamer Rossgull, wrecked in the English Channel, lashed himself to a spar, and getting clear of the sinking vessel was 43 hours alone in the water before he was rescued.
The S.S. Rossgull belonging to the Anglo-French Steamship Company Limited, was a Collier Type. Her length 131 feet with a beam of 22 feet and depth of 10 feet. Speed 10 knots.
A journey from Plymouth to Guernsey was a 10 hour duration.
Elijah Jarman Emptage 1860 – 1939. Son of Daniel Clark Emptage and Caroline (Goldsmith).