The Oscar

 

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The Story of the ill-Fated Oscar....

 

Between the Girdleness and the river mouth there is the Greyhope Bay, memorable as the scene of the most disastrous shipwreck ever recorded in our local annals. On the morning of the 1st of April, 1813, five whaling vessels were riding at anchor in the roads when a sudden tempest came on from the SE. Two of the ships weighed and stood out to sea; but as part of the crew of one, the ill-fated "Oscar," had been left ashore, she was obliged to put about and keep near the land. By the time that all her men were on board she was far inshore. Meantime the wind had died away, and from the heavy roll of the sea, and a strong tide setting in, she was unable to clear the Girdleness. Soon after the gale sprang up with increased violence; it was accompanied with a dense shower of snow, and now blew from the NE. The vessel in vain endeavoured to ride it out; and after dragging her anchor she was driven ashore in the Greyhope on a large reef. The tremendous sea which broke over her threatened instant destruction, and the only hope of safety for the crew was that of effecting a communication with the land. For this purpose the mainmast was hewed down in such a manner as that it might fall towards the beach; but it dropped alongside the vessel. A number of the seamen who had clung to the rigging were hurled into the sea along with it, many were swept from the deck, and others who attempted to swim to the land were borne down by the floating wreck or overwhelmed by the fury of the surf. Only the forecastle now remained above water, and for a a short time the master and three sailors were observed upon it, imploring the assistance which none could give. Of a crew of forty-four men only two were saved.

The bodies recovered from the sea were laid in one long grave at the east end of St Fittick's Churchyard. Old folks still living in Torry recall the figure of a broken old woman wandering among the fisher huts and seeking alms at their doors. Her "all" went down in the "Oscar," which carried her husband and three sons, and the poor fisher folk who had seen them done to death, almost within arm's length of help, never refused to share their crust with the lone woman.

The Book of St Fittick
By T W Ogilivie
1901