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Lieutenant John Quilliam and the Loss of HMS Ethalion, 1799

Posted by Andrew Bond, on May 6th, 2014


John Quilliam, who in 1805 was First Lieutenant of the Victory at Trafalgar, was the star witness at the Court Martial that was convened following the loss of the 38-gun frigate Ethalion on Christmas Eve 1799. Quilliam was officer of the watch when the frigate struck the ‘Rocks of the Saints’ outside Brest while attempting to reconnoitre the enemy fleet. Astonishingly, not a single member of the crew was lost or even injured. The ‘Narrative’ presented to the court by Ethalion’s commander, Captain John Clarke Searle, provides a vivid account of the events of that night and a spirited defence of his own actions.

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