On this day 24 March 1878, the Royal Navy corvette H.M.S Eurydice was lost.
She was lost within sight of onlookers off the coast of the Isle of Wight.
Her loss was one of Britain’s worst peacetime naval disasters. Of a compliment of 319 crew and trainees, 317 perished.
Built at Portsmouth Dockyard and commissioned in 1843, Eurydice was designed with a very shallow draught, for speed and to navigate shallow waters.
She spent her first two commissions in the waters of the Caribbean and South Africa before sailing briefly to the White Sea during the Crimean War.
Eurydice briefly returned to the West India and North American waters before she was converted into a stationary training ship in 1861.
In 1877, she was refitted for seagoing service as a training ship, sailing from Portsmouth on a three-month tour of the West Indies and Bermuda on 13 November 1877.
on 24 March 1878, returning to England, Eurydice was caught in a heavy snow storm off the Isle of Wight, capsized and sank.
Captain Hare, after giving the order to every man to save himself, clasped his hands in prayer and went down with his ship.
Only two survived, those that were not taken down with Captain Hare, died of exposure in the freezing waters.
Lord Elphinstone, responding to a question in the House of Lords, reported that “the Dockyard authorities at Portsmouth were making all the necessary preparations for raising the Eurydice.”
He proceeded that,”Divers were at work in removing the upper spars and sails, and other impedimenta. When that was accomplished, it was intended to attach four lighters to the wreck at low water, the effect of which would be that, as the tide rose, the vessel would lift; and she would then be towed into the shallow water of Sandown Bay.”
The wreck of H.M.S. Eurydice was raise in the fashion described by his Lordship and many bodies were retrieved from the hull.
Those identified are named on memorials where they are buried.