Contributed by David Gore
"All the previous day we had been on the train from Neemuch, our home in Central India, 400 miles away. We slept that night at the Army base at Colaba and then went down to Bombay to catch the British India Steamship Vingorla (578 tons) for Karachi where my father was waiting for us. His regiment, the 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry, were fighting in Afghanistan and we were to join him for his local leave. Despite the excitement of my first sea voyage, I was asleep almost as soon as we went below to the cabin which I shared with my baby brother Charles, just seven months old."
"It was dark when I was woken by the commotion on deck and soon my mother was there in her night dress. She looked worried, spoke to some other passengers and then we were all told to come up on deck at once. There wasn't even time to get dressed and we all were in our night clothes just wrapped in blankets throughout the momentous events that followed."
"The deck was damp and cold under my feet and bathed in eerie moonlight casting long shadows as the men worked. Some were raising the mail boat into its davits, others with lights were around the main cargo hold and I saw that the deck passengers had all been moved to the stern of the ship. We stood around in a group, the saloon passengers among whom I recognised Mrs Stuart, the Master's wife with her small baby, Major Greig, Lieut. Colborne, Mr. Cloete and the second officer Mr. Battersby Wood who was in charge of launching the mail boat. Vingorla's sails had been taken in and we seemed to be at anchor with engines stopped. The sea remained calm and nothing appeared to be amiss with our ship but I saw men dumping what looked like cargo over the side. Eventually I was lifted into the mail boat, in which there were about twenty people including my mother with Charles, and we were lowered jerkily down to the sea."
"It was only much later that I discovered what had happened. The ship had left Bombay at noon; by 9.30 p.m. she was about 70 miles out with her sails set and doing 8 knots in light winds on a smooth sea when she began to steer abnormally with the head down. It was found that water was leaking into the main cargo hold and from there the disaster developed. Efforts were made to save the ship by dumping cargo overboard but the water gained steadily over the next four hours and at 1.30 in the morning Vingorla sank by the head in 20 fathoms. Our mail boat had been launched soon after 10.30 p.m. and two of the three remaining life boats got off shortly before the ship went down. The third was rushed by deck passengers, for whom no boats were provided, and broke in two in the davits, dumping them all in the sea."
BISN Co Ltd papers & time tables dated 1st Jan 1800
William Meade Hall (ex British India Line agent) of Northamptonshire.
David J Mitchell of York
The late Rupert Mayne
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