5th December 1900

Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked

SS Rossgull had arrived at Guernsey from Plymouth during the day and set sail for Jersey after unloading its cargo. It was dark and stormy, but nobody had any reason to suspect she wouldn’t reach her destination until, the following morning, Onesimus Dorey received a telegram announcing that she had been wrecked on the evening of 5 December, around 10.45pm.

She had been just off St Brelades Bay in Jersey at the time, and the coastguard calculated that she had foundered on rocks off Noirmont Point.

The telegram would have brought back unhappy memories for Dorey, as it arrived three years almost to the day since his ship the Rose of Devon had sunk off Cornwall with the loss of all lives. In this instance, three of the crew and only a handful of passengers had survived, despite her having sufficient lifeboats and rafts for everyone. It was likely that the sea was too rough for them to make it to shore.

Rescued cat

A Miss Stoll, from Plymouth, recounted the story to the Jersey Times the following day, explaining that the rocks seemed to have made contact towards the back of the boat, well below the water line. The boat had tipped up and then started to list to one side.

There was no apparent panic. The crew distributed lifebelts and people dressed, then waited on deck for the first of the lifeboats to be lowered while still only half full. It even returned to the sinking boat several times to collect clothing and Miss Stoll took a cat with her.

Three of the crew rowed the lifeboats to St Helier Harbour where the survivors were interviewed by the police before being taken care of. As the sun came up, the lifeboat was dispatched from St Helier, but after five hours’ searching it returned to port having seen no sign of the Rossgull or any more survivors.


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Other events that occured in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st