Dyer Island Conservation Trust

Blog: HMS Birkenhead Commemoration 26 February 2017

Published: 07 March 2017
By:Anwynn Louw

Every year, Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises launch their vessels to the commemoration of the Birkenhead disaster.  This year, ominous clouds with a promising rainbow made for a memorable ceremony.

Marine Dynamics and Dyer Island Cruises launched their boats to commemorate the 165th anniversary of the HMS Birkenhead.  The vessels headed to Birkenhead Rock for a wreath laying ceremony.

'To stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill is a damn tough bullet to chew.' – Rudyard Kipling, Soldier an’ Sailor too

On 26 February 1852, the HMS Birkenhead struck a rock off of Danger Point.  It was the first use of the Birkenhead Drill of "women and children first," which is now incorporated into maritime law.

“The wreck of the Birkenhead is not only famous for the bravery of its young soldiers and for the fact that no woman or children were lost but also because legend has it that she was carrying £240000 in gold (about 3 tons) as part of a military pay-packet. According to a source from the British Archives this large consignment of gold was secretly stored in the powder-room of the ship. 

The Birkenhead Evening was hosted by Gansbaai Tourism and catering was sponsored by The Great White House. Guest speaker, Dr. James Gray, moved the guests with a heart gripping story of the unfolding events on that fatal day 165 years ago.  This morning a service and wreath laying ceremony was held at the Dangerpoint Lighthouse.

Please do visit The Great White House restaurant as it houses a display of the Birkenhead Collection.

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