26 February 2013
Women & Children first
Sinking of the HMS Birkenhead - 26 February 1852 On February 26, 1852, the troopship HMS BIRKENHEAD grounded at Danger Point, near Cape Town, South Africa. It was carrying about 400 British soldiers to fight in the Kaffir War in South Africa. Also on board were about 200 civilians, mostly women and children. There were not sufficient lifeboats for everyone. The senior British Army officer onboard ordered the troops to stand fast as the women and children boarded the lifeboats. None of the soldiers broke ranks. The BIRKENHEAD sank soon afterwards. Only 193 of the approximately 643 people originally on board survived. From this event, the maritime tradition of "women and children first" is derived.