Admiral Robert Gordon Douglas
‘Seafield’, The Beach, Walmer
Royal Naval Hospital Building, Walmer
Occupation: Royal Navy Officer & Cinque Ports Magistrate
A Terrible Shipwreck, T.L. Mourilyan R. N. , 1870 © Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park, photograph by Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd
Wednesday, February 9th 1870 was the start of a violent storm in the area of Deal, Walmer and Kingsdown. Charles Elvin tells us it increased in strength over the next few days until the Sunday when it became a violent north-easterly. In such strong winds and wild seas, ships that were still anchored in The Downs suffered from the dragging of these anchors due to the power of the storm. The Walmer and Kingsdown lifeboats and their brave crews did what they could but the strain on the Racine, a schooner from Marseilles with a cargo of sugar, became too much. Her chains snapped and she was wrecked to the south of Walmer Castle. Apart from one young boy, the crew were saved by the Boatmen of Walmer and Kingsdown. The Glendura, bound for Rotterdam, the Dutch brig Anna Lena and the English brig Eglantine and the English Barque William Harper, Ships were thrown up on the shore at Walmer and the brave Boatmen threw lines aboard the wrecked vessels and helped crew along the ropes to safety. The people of Walmer were out in force on this terrible Sunday, including Admiral Douglas who, it is reported, rushed into the sea three times to throw lines to the desperate crews.
The Glendura was the only ship to survive the storm and was eventually refloated.