Author Topic: Bacchus incident 1925  (Read 111 times)


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Re: Bacchus incident 1925
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2019, 11:18:39 PM »
I cruised past the spot today, and note that there are moorings slightly downstream from Thunderbolt pier which are military (I think RE).  They are well out from the bank.  If (big "if") moorings in this area were in use by naval vessels in 1925 they would appear to be "mid-stream", at least to a casual glance.  The deep water is however well out from the Strood side.


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Re: Bacchus incident 1925
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2019, 09:49:28 AM »
The ship's boat with 11 men on board had left Thunderbolt Pier (now part of the Historic Dockyard: TQ75786917 or 51°23.6602'N 0°31.5161'E) at about 2330.  RFA Bacchus was moored "mid stream" according to one report, allowing for a landsman newspaper reporter's view of the Medway at high water one can assume opposite, just off what is now the Medway City Estate.  The river there is about a cable's length across, say 200 yards.
As they set off a barge was tacking across the river.  The barge would have been using the full width of the river and must have been tacking about every 6 boat lengths.  Bacchuss' ship's boat had to steer around the barge, and she cleared the barge was struck by the motor lighter Flame who would likewise have been avoiding the barge.  The ship's boat sank immediately in 15' of water.  Possibly ironically, Flame was loaded with beer.  The action took place at night and the ship's boat would have been low in the water and probably did not carry navigation lights.  Even if large enough to carry navigation lights, the ship's boat would have been hidden by the bulk of the hull of the barge.  The coroner's inquest returned verdicts of accidental death on all those drowned.
Wakeley was buried in Swindon in grave H197.  Riddle, Edwards and Chinn  were buried in Gillingham.  Stonehouse's body was not recovered until 30 April, he was buried in Portsmouth.  I have not yet found the final resting place of Tucker.

Note: the current collision regulations (COLREGS) require very small craft (under 7m and under 7 knots if motorised) to merely have a lit lantern or electric torch to show in case of danger.


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Bacchus incident 1925
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2019, 02:30:36 PM »

This newspaper cutting came up in passing on a Youtube channel. There's no mention of it on the old forum so I thought I'd make a post about it here.

This is what I found on

Tuesday, 14 April 1925

Bacchus, RFA, water distilling vessel and store-carrier, 11 men in motor-boat returning from leave, collided with motor-lighter just before midnight, six drowned in River Medway at Gillingham

CHINN, Cyril, Able Seaman, RFA

EDWARDS, Albert, Able Seaman, RFA

RIDDLE, John, Stoker, RFA

STONEHOUSE, Cyril, Radio Officer, RFA

TUCKER, Edward, Stoker, RFA

WAKELEY, Victor Mortimer, 3rd Officer, RFA