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The Wreck of the Highland Hope

November 19 1930

Mr JW Edwards' Graphic Narrative.

A Young Girls Heroism

Mr J W Edwards, of Romney New Dover Road Canterbury, who was a passenger
on the ill-fated Nelson motor liner Highland Hope, which
was wrecked of the Farilhoes Islands (Portugal) last week, received
the congratulations of a host of friends on his escape, when he returned to the city on
Tuesday.He courteously consented to relate some of his experiences to a representive of the
Kentish Gazette, the following day, and- though told with characteristic modesty and absence
of embellishment his story forms a graphic and, in some respects, epic narrative.

Mr. Edwards and his brother-in-law Mr. G Young, of Worcester Park Surrey, left Tilbury on
Saturday, November 15th, for a 12 days; trip to Las Palmas and back. The vessel called at Boulogne
and Vigo and was making its way towards Lisbon when disaster occurred. The fog, which after leaving Boulogne had
caused some anxiety, had apparently lifted on the Tuesday night, and the passengers retired
to their beds in the confident hope of enjoying a good night's rest.

"The Highland"
Built in 1929 by Harland & Wolff of Belfast

Whistle and Then a Shock

At five oclock the next morning. Said Mr. Edwards in relating the subsequent occurrences,
Mr. Young and I happened to be awake in our cabin, when I distinctly heard a whistle
blown three times. I got out of bed, and then we felt a shock as if the vessel
had struck something and rebounded. A few seconds later there was a severe
bump which shook her from stem to stern. We immediately started to get into
some clothes, andas we were doing so the vessel gave a violent lurch, and
furniture and articles in the room were scattered all over the
place. I remarked, Lets get out of this as soon as we can - as I feared if the door became jammed we
might be trapped. On emerging from the cabin the ship gave another lurch, and everything
seemed to be tumbling down about us.
The order was given, get to your boats, and with all possible haste we scrambled up to our boat
station on the starboard side. The vessel was tacking and lurching, and the first lifeboat
I saw lowered from the davit swung violently back against the liner.

A Girls Gallantry

The side of the boat was stove in and it tipped up, discharging some of the occupants into the water.
One of these, a young girl, conspicuous in a gaily-coloured kimono, displayed splendid
gallantry. A strong swimmer, she swam round picked up a child whom she placed in the boat, and
then assigned a woman to safety. The girl hung on to a line of the vessel for a time, then,
realising that the position had its perils, she dropped into the water and swam towards a
boat, which, I learned subsequently, she reached in safety. Others who witnessed the exploit
shared my admiration for this young heroine, but though we searched for her afterwards
we never discovered her. I think she deserved the V.C.

A large number of passengers, including women and children, were very scantily clad, having had no time to dress,
and Mr. Edwards spoke in high praise not only of the manner in which they bore their discomforts, but also of the
orderly way in which the women and children (as well as the men) obeyed the instructions they received. He saw
nothing in the nature of a panic on his side of the vessel.When our lifeboat was being lowered,
he continued, it banged into the side of the vessel, and for a moment I felt it would be better for
us to remain on the vessel and take our chance.

Women and Children First

We were then ordered down to the next deck. The women and children first took their places, and
then the men, my companion and I being the last to get into the boat which, though it swung
rather alarmingly, was safely lowered into the water. We both took an oar with two of the
crew, and after rowing for half to three-quarters of an hour we were taken in tow by some fishing
smacks to the village of Peniche, about nine miles away from the scene of the disaster.
I may say, added Mr Edwards, that it was about 25 years since I had done any rowing,
and I am still feeling the effects of my exertions The lifeboat was rather uncomfortably crowded with some 60 odd
occupants, but Mr Edwards said they were very much heartened by the welcome breaking of the dawn, which enabled
them to see the mainland with the assurance which it gave that the perils of the night were over. The passengers
were all soaked to the skin by the time they reached Peniche, and the many who were wearing only
night attire - and had lost all their money and belongings - were in an especially pitiable plight.
Mr. Edwards and his companion more fortunate than most had managed to get on trousers,
shirts, jackets and slippers, but lost everything else they had with them.
For an hour and more after landing many walked about seeking those whose friendship
they had made on the Highland Hope.

A Fortunate Discovery

The villagers of Peniche, though they displayed much curiosity regarding their unexpected
visitors, were unable, owing to their ignorance of the English language, to render any practical
help. Mr. Edwards and his companion were fortunate to discover a man who had been a
shepherd in England and therefore knew the language, and through his guidance they were
enabled to obtain coffee and refreshments at a small hotel. Subsequently hospitality was
extended to many of the passengers by the local bank manager, who also placed his motorcars
at their disposal for conveying the to Lisbon, some 70 miles away. About halfway on the journey they
were met by the Vice-consul and a representative of the shipping company, and when the party arrived
in Lisbon they were delighted to find that arrangements had been made for their accommodation at a hotel.
During their three days stay at Lisbon the passengers very much appreciated the great kindness
shown to them, and the assistance given by the Consul and Vice-Consuls and their wives.
Mr. Edwards and Mr. Young witnessed and shared in, many joyous re-unions among the
passengers of the Highland Hope before leaving for home on Saturday by the Royal
Steam Packet Almansora. Mr. Edwards related that on arrival at Southampton the rescued
passengers were besieged by journalists-but I am afraid, he confided, that the accounted we gave
were very skimpy, as we had very little time there.

A Curious Coincidence

A most curious coincidence was reserved for the last stage of Mr. Edwards eventful journey.
On board ship he struck up a friendly acquaintanceship with the assistant steward, and this was
renewed subsequently when they met at Peniche and at Lisbon. At Waterloo Station Mr. Edwards
again encountered the assistant steward to whom he casually mentioned that he wanted to catch a train to
Canterbury. When asked if he came from Canterbury. Mr. Edwards replied, Thats where I live Oh, said the assistant
steward, that is funny - that is my home, too. It was revealed that the assistant steward was
named Wiltshier, and Mr. Edwards took the first opportunity on Wednesday morning of conveying a message from his son to
Mr. Peter Wiltshier, of the firm of Messrs. J.E. Wiltshier, Stour Street, Canterbury.

To see a few more photos of the Edwards Family