KEMPENFELT, Richard, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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KEMPENFELT, Richard (1818-1882). Admiral. Died on the Royal George.
Autograph Letter Signed to Captain Marshall of HMS Emerald in Gosport, 1 page 4to with address-leaf (very weak and split in the fold), Greek Street, Soho, 12 January no year. Asking him to send again the specifications for the naval flags.
'I received from you in Torbay or at sea the proper Dimensions of Signal Flags and pendants, for Frigates which I immediately Transmitted to the Comptroller, but find He has mislaid them, neither can I find the copy of those dimensions which I took for myself ...'
'On Lord Howe's taking command of the fleet in April 1782, Kempenfelt hoisted his flag in the Royal George as one of the junior admirals, and continued with the fleet during the summer cruise. On 15 August the fleet anchored at Spithead, and was ordered to refit with all possible haste and proceed to the relief of Gibraltar. As part of this process it was necessary to give the Royal George a slight heel to get at a leak a few inches below the water-line. This was done on 29 August by running her guns over to the other side. While she was so heeled supply boats came alongside to transfer casks through the depressed lower gun ports; the additional weight allowed an inrush of water which immediately capsized and sank her. Besides the crew, a very large number of tradesmen, women, and children were on board; it was estimated that more than 800 lost their lives. Kempenfelt was at the time in his cabin, and died in the accident. The master, gunner, and boatswain were all ashore in violation of orders, and the carpenter had been unable to find the officer of the watch to warn him. At the court martial, however, the crew were absolved of all blame.' [Oxford DNB]
[No: 22829]

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