This film is part of Free

'Rohilla' Wrecked off Whitby

Powerful scenes from the rescue effort following one of Britain's worst maritime disasters

Non-Fiction 1914 3 mins Silent


The wreck of the hospital ship Rohilla in October 1914 was one of Britain's worst maritime disasters, with 83 souls lost. Though the war was well underway, the cause of the wreck was not enemy action but a terrible gale, forcing the vessel onto a reef a mile east of Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast.

Weather conditions meant the rescue attempt was drawn out over three days, long enough for the newsreels - not so fleet of foot as today's TV news crews - to reach the scene. This Pathé Gazette newsreel is particularly dramatic, capturing not just the wreck itself but powerful scenes of activity on the shore, including a few exhausted survivors saved from the still violent waters. It ends on a particularly poignant image, with a group of men sombrely carrying a prone figure on a stretcher - presumably one of the dead.