The Shipwreck

In late September 1744, HMS Victory and her fleet were returning from a successful mission against the French in Lisbon and Gibraltar. Shortly after entering the English Channel, a severe storm separated Victory from the rest of the fleet and she was lost with all hands on 5 October. Although badly damaged from the storm, all the other 16 fleet warships limped into Spithead during the ensuing week. Reports from Alderney of a large number of guns firing in distress and remains of the Victory washing ashore on the nearby islands led to a solid belief amongst the Admiralty and later historians that the wreck was located off Alderney and had been lost on the Casquets.

It was not until the Victory was discovered by Odyssey more than 100km west of Alderney in 2008 that the truth behind the sinking was revealed. The tragedy was not caused by dangerous rocks and the failure of the Alderney lighthouse keeper to keep the fire burning as believed at the time. The reasons for the Victory's loss were almost certainly poor ship design, top-heavy weight, instability caused by heavy guns and possibly rotting timbers.

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