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H. M. S. DOTEREL, blown up at Punta Arenas, 26 April 1881

HMS Doterel

Report of "The Times", London 5 May 1881

Note: There are significant differences between the names on the memorial plaque and those listed in the newspaper report: corrections are welcomed. A useful cross-check is provided by the 1881 UK Census, which lists the ship´s complement as of April 3rd [PRO ref. RG11/5637, folios 80-84; FHL film 1342355]: it appears that this news report is more accurate than the plaque.


The following telegram from Montevideo was received yesterday morning at the Admiralty:--

"The Doterel totally destroyed and sunk by explosion of fore magazine at Sandy Point, ten a.m., April 26th. Cause unknown; supposed boiler burst and exploded magazine. Twelve survivors, all well, proceeding in Britannia, for Liverpool. Stokes remains Sandy Point awaiting orders. Have telegraphed Pacific and Jones.

"Survivors. -- Evans, Commander; Stokes, Lieutenant; Colborne, paymaster; Walker, engineer (Garnet); Baird, carpenter; Pengelly, gunner's mate; Trout, quartermaster; Ford, caulker's mate; Walker, shipwright; James Smith, ordinary; Turner, stoker; Summers, Marine, discharged; Inglis, clerk; Miggeridge, sick bay man; Hays, private; Motton, A.B.; John Ellery, A.B., deserted.

"Dead. - Eight officers, 135 men."

Admiralty, May 4.

[The above appeared in our Second Edition of yesterday.]

o - O - o

The Secretary of the Admiralty presents his compliments to the editor of The Times, and begs to say that the following is the list of officers and crew of Her Majesty's ship Doterel, who, according to latest returns, were serving on board that vessel:--

List of officers and men serving on board Her Majesty's ship Doterel on 23d February, 1881, the date of the last accounts in office:--

OFFICERS.-- Commander Richard Evans*; Senior Lieutenants Wm. C. Forrest, Art. R. M. Creagh, John M. Stokoe*; Staff Surgeon Septimus Evans, Paymaster John N. Colborne*, Chief Engineer William Read, Engineer William Ord; carpenter W. B. Baird*; clerk, Charles M. Irving; assistant clerk, Charles R. Inglis*; gunner, Jeremiah Driscoll; boatswain, W. M. Taylor, assistant engineer Walker [of Garnet].


MEN.-- Philip C. Arnold, A.B.; William D. Arthur, blacksmith; Thomas C. Alder, E.R.A.; James Aldridge, stoker, 2nd class; David Armitage, gunner, R.M.; William Adamson, alias Adams, private R.M.; Robert Bramley, leading stoker; George Blackmore, chief boatswain's mate; Henry Blake, ordinary; John Bush, ordinary; George Bush, second captain main top; Thomas K. Barnes, W.R.steward; Henry Bolt, A.B.; Jabez Bell, A.B.; William Burgess, leading seaman; Henry Burgoyne, leading seaman; James Barricott, ship's corporal, 1st class; David Bullivant, stoker; William H. Barrett, stoker; Andrew Berry, chief engine-room artificer; Henry Bowmer, stoker; James Baker, stoker; Frederick Baig?, stoker; Abraham C. Cook, leading seaman; William Common, A.B.; William Cook, stoker; Walter Clarke, boy, 1st class; Hugh Considine, captain's cook; Charles Clayton, captain's steward; Henry Charles, stoker, 2d class; Michael Collins, drummer R.M.; George Camp, private, R.M.; Herbert Colville, private, R.M.; William Davis, sailmaker, crew; Frederick Dine, ordinary; Daniel Daley, quartermaster; Arthur Dees?, private R.M.; Charles Damsell, private R.M.; George East, ordinary; William Elliott, ordinary; John Evans, stoker; Thomas Exton, boy, 1st class; James Emmott, private R.M.; W. Furness, stoker 2d class; John Farmer, A.B.; John Faulkner, 2d captain foretop; Ephraim Fisher, private R.M.; Charles Green, leading stoker; George Gimber, W.R. servant; Samuel J. Gowen, A.B.; George Gu?rr, ordinary; Luther Gibbons, ordinary; Joseph Godfrey, stoker 2d class; Thomas Goldfinch, stoker; William Holton, sailmate; Edmund Howard, A.B.; Charles Hames, ordinary; James Hull, 3d captain foretop; Alfred Harfield, ordinary; Charles Hemers, signalman 3d class; Robert Hardy, 2d captain maintop; Charles Hollis, leading seaman; Wm. Hosking, A.B.; Samuel Harper, E.R.A.; Charles Hawkes, private R.M.; George Jarrett, stoker; Fredk. Jenkins, W.R. servant; Alfred Jeffery, boy 1st class; Levi John, boy 1st class; James Kingsnorth, acting E.R.A.; Thomas King, acting E.R.A.; Christopher Keating, stoker 2d class; Job Lawrence, leading seaman; James Lownds, ordinary; David Leggett, second captain forecastle; John Lloyd, gunner R.M.; John Meredith, plumber; Joseph Mathurist, A.B.; William Metcalf, ordinary; Henry Mills, signalman second class; Samuel McIver, A.B.; John Mormon, A.B.; Daniel Martin, stoker, second class; James R. May, carp[ent]er; Henry Myers, boy 1st class; Willy F. Marley, private R.M.; Fred. P. Manuel, E.R.A.; William Nicholls, ordinary; James Newell, cook, 2d class; George H. Nixon, private R.M.; Edwin Ambler Prior, leading stoker; Wm. H. Price, ordinary; William Pridham, armourer; Thomas Parker, stoker; James Payne, stoker; John Pearce, W.R.Cook; Joseph Palmer, bombadier R.M.; Frank Pratten, gunner R.M.; W.T. Powell, private R.M.; John Pugsley, Col.-Serg. R.M.; Geo. C. Quinnear, A.B.; Fred. Rudd, cooper; Richard Robinson, S.S. assistant; George Ryder, stoker; William Rowe, stoker class 2d; John Ranger, boy, class 1st; Thomas Roberts, private; John Riddington, private; Ernest Scott, ordinary; Edwin Slack, ordinary; Charles Smith, ordinary; Henry C. Skinner, A.B.; Henry Smith, second captain quarter deck; Edward Simpson, W.R. servant; Patrick Sisk, boy, 1st class; Joseph Schofield, ditto; William Stamp, ditto; Alfred Silvester, ship steward, third class; Henry Selwood, stoker, second class; George J. Tilbury, A.B.; Henry Taylor, signalman, third class; James Toomey, A.B.; Frederick Taylor, stoker, class 2d; John Travis, private R.M.; Henry A. Watson, Car.; William Wright, W.O. cook; George R.O. Wilson, ordinary; Richard Wingett, A.B.; William Walters, shipwright; Francis Wilson, captain cockswain; Ornard Williams, painter second class; William Winter, Quartermaster; Thomas Whitehead, stoker; Stephen Walch, stoker, 2d class; Charles Walters, private R.M.; Joseph Welch, private R.M.

Saved.-- *John Ford, caulker's mate; *Joseph Trout, boatswain's mate; *James W. Smith, ordinary; *Henry Turner, stoker; *William Summers, marine; *---- Walker, shipwright; *George Pengelley, gunner's mate.

Discharged previous to accident.-- *John Ellery, A.B.; *Charles Hayes, private R.M.; *John Motton, A.B.; *Elwic Muggeridge, sick berth attendant.

An asterisk is placed against those reported as saved or discharged previously.

o - O - o

Our Chatham Correspondent writes:-- "The telegram received from Montevideo by the Admiralty yesterday was posted outside the dockyard gates, and read eagerly during the day by large numbers of persons. It would appear from the number killed that the vessel at the time of the disaster had not disposed of the supernumeraries which she took out for the other vessels on the Pacific station. A great many of the relatives of those left reside at Chatham, the whole of the Royal Marine Light Infantry on board belonging to the Chatham Division. The machinery of the vessel, as well as the boilers, was supplied and put on board by Messrs. Macaulay and Son. Mr. Kingsworth, one of the junior officers at Chatham Dockyard, has lost a son by the explosion. He also lost a son by the bursting of the boiler on board the Thunderer two or three years back. The officials of this yard are entirely at a loss to account for the explosion of the boiler if that was the cause of the accident, as the boilers were properly tested before being put on board, and again before the vessel left for her destination."

o - O - o

Our Sheerness Correspondent writes:-- "The catastrophe to the Doterel, which was lying at Sheerness ten days before she proceeded on her voyage, has caused a profound sensation in this town. The painful excitement is heightened by the fact that a large proportion of the bluejackets forming the crew of the ill-fated ship were drafted from the Royal Naval Barracks, Sheerness, and consequently had many friends and acquaintances in the place. Many of them, too, were natives of Sheerness. The tidings first reached here through a telegram from the Admiralty to Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald J. Macdonald, K.C.S.L., Commander-in-Chief at the Nore; and it was soon the absorbing theme of conversation in the town."

o - O - o

Our Portsmouth Correspondent writes:-- "Very little value is attached here to the supposed cause of the explosion. The probability is that as the ship was at anchor steam would not be up, and in any case a boiler could not have exploded without the effects being clearly distinguishable at ten o'clock in the morning. It is known that the Doterel had large quantities of gun cotton on board for distribution among the other ships on the station, and in the absence of further details the probable cause of the disaster must be inferred to arise from some carelessness in respect of this explosive. The Doterel was formed of planking attached to iron framing, and was in consequence devoid of a double-bottom and watertight compartments. With a hole punched out of her bottom she was bound to sink."

Subsequent Reports in "The Times", London

1 Jun 1881
Letters from eye-witnesses in the South American Missionary Society yawl "Allen Gardiner"
29 Aug 1881
to 5 Sep 1881
Court martial of captain, surviving officers and crew: all fully acquitted
20 Jan 1882
Declaration by caulker's mate
7 May 1927
Obituary for Vice-Admiral Richard Evans

(1)  "The Times" of London
(2)  "Naval Ships of the World's Navies", sloops; web site (photo)
Thanks: Grahame Parker, Maria Rose
Last updated: 26-IV-2015