Jan 152018

The RIMS Warren Hastings before the wreck.

On the 6th of January 1897 the troopship RIMS Warren Hastings left Cape Town (South Africa) bound for Mauritius with 993 passengers including the headquarters and four companies of the 1st Battalion, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps.

On the 14th January 1897 at 02:20 the Warren Hastings, eight miles off course, steaming at full speed, in pitch darkness and pouring rain, ran straight into the rocks on the coastline of Réunion.

The ship stuck fast, allowing time for the troops to fall in below decks without noise and in perfect order. At 04:00 the ship’s captain ordered disembarkation to begin by rope ladders from the bows, intending not to disembark the women and children until daybreak.

However, at 04:20 the ship began to list badly so he ordered the men to stand-fast while the women, children and sick were helped off the ship. Subsequently, as the position of the ship became even more critical, men clambered ashore as best they could, with many being saved from the sea by their comrades.

By 05:30 all the troops were ashore. Later, some of the baggage was recovered. Miraculously, in an incident reflecting great credit on the discipline and behaviour of the troops, only two Indian members of the crew were lost.

After being cared for very well by the French at Réunion, the passengers boarded another ship, maybe a trifle nervously, to complete their passage to Mauritius.

Some of the survivors from 1 KRRC.

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