Four hours of pounding by the sea and the destructive grinding of the rock shelf had changed the ship’s appearance. The funnel crashed own onto the Boat Deck and slithered into the sea, smashing everything in its way. It was fortunate that the tilt of the ship was backwards or the funnel would have fallen onto the bridge were the majority of survivors had gathered. The stern slipped further and further away from the centre section and there was no longer any possibility of the thirty men still clinging to it being able to get across. The bow moved away and sank.
Of the 229 people onboard: five seamen were washed over the side as they went to their boat’s stations, about thirty were on the separated stern, eight reached the shore in the ship’s last lifeboat, the five women and about a hundred and forty men were in the vicinity of the bridge and about fifty to sixty men were missing.
Langlands, Eglon and the crew clambered into the John Fielden. Many hands turned the lifeboat into the waves and pushed until there was sufficient depth of water. For several anxious moments it seemed that the surf would fling it back on to The Scar. Then they were away.
At 9:45, five and a half hours after the Rohilla ran onto the rock, the lifeboat was alongside.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981