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CONCH Schooner Also described as a brigantine. Trading in South African coastal waters from 1828.
Wrecked in 1847.

  • In 1842 her Master was William BELL and I am indebted to Rosemary Dixon-Smith, his great-great granddaughter, for sending me his narrative (see also CONCH 1828-1847 for full version).
  • CONCH was at Algoa Bay when a colonist, Richard King, made a ten day ride to Grahamstown with the news that rebellious Boers in Natal had blockaded a detachment of the 27th. regiment encamped in Durban.
    William BELL, well aware of the difficult harbour entrance at Port Natal immediately volunteered his ship and services to carry reinforcements there, although his crew were less enthusiastic and pleaded illness until the captain talked of "three dozen each." About 100 men from the 27th. regiment were embarked with some local volunteers and she sailed with a Northwest wind for Port Natal which she reached 13 days later on Friday 24 June.
    The wind obliged them to anchor in the outer road where they could hear firing ashore.
    Meanwhile SOUTHAMPTON (60) Capt. Thomas OGLE, had arrived from Simon's Bay with a portion of the 25th. regiment, and she was anchored near the bar to a buoy laid by CONCH.
    CONCH fired a couple of shells ashore, followed by several from SOUTHAMPTON, before it was decided to land the troops as soon as the tide was high enough.
    With 50 more soldiers on board, CONCH towed the boats, full of soldiers and seamen and with a carronade in the bow of each, into the bay under a covering fire from SOUTHAMPTON.
    A hail of bullets struck CONCH, where the men were hiding behind temporary bulwarks of thin wooden planks and blankets, resulting in a few dead and wounded.
    As soon as the boats touched ground the seamen, armed with cutlasses, were ashore, racing to cut down the rebel flag and replace it with a boat ensign.
    The troops soon disembarked and chased the Boers into the bush.
    The soldiers in the besieged garrison had suffered terribly.
    The only shelter from the hot sun by day and the cold at night was the hides of the horses they had killed for food, the blackened strips of horseflesh were hanging from the broken wagons.
  • William BELL was appointed Port Captain at Natal and remained in this post until he died in 1869.
    CONCH was wrecked at Port St. John's in November 1847 when the wind failed.

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© 1995, 2007 Michael Phillips