The story of Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivor Tsutomu Yamaguchi in yesterday’s blog reminded me of another astonishing escape during the Great Storm of November 27, 1703 – probably the worst in recorded history to hit the United Kingdom.
Up to 8,000 people, many of them sailors in the Royal Navy, are thought to have drowned around Britain’s coasts. One naval ship destroyed was the Mary. The only member of its crew of 273 to survive was Thomas Atikins, who managed to cling to a floating piece of wreckage until a huge wave picked him up and flung him onto the deck of another man o’ war, the Stirling Castle.
As she was grounded, he was flung overboard, but fell into the only boat that managed to float free from the ship, and reached the shore unconscious and suffering from exposure, but alive. Of the Stirling Castle's crew of 349, just 70 survived.
For the full story of the Great Storm, see A Disastrous History of Britain.