H.M.S. Victoria Survivors
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STOKER  2nd cl  JAMES  CURRAN
James Curran was born on 28 Feb 1873 in Dundee Scotland.  He entered the RN on
10 Aug ’92 as a Stoker 2nd class, & gave his trade as Seaman.  He apparently had
prior merchant service but no time given. He had a tattoo of a woman on his Right
upper arm.  
And one item he had neglected to tell the RN was that he also had previous Army
service, & this was to play a factor soon in his naval career.

His first ship was HMS Victory, likely a tender attached to Victory for being trained
as a Stoker. He remained there until 1 Mar ’93 when he was drafted to HMS Achilles
on the Mediterranean station. He was only on Achilles briefly as he was next drafted
to HMS Victoria on 1 April when she re commissioned as the Flagship of Vice
Admiral Tryon.

Curran was aboard Victoria that fateful June 22 when she suffered the collision with
HMS Camperdown.
He was a very fortunate man in that he was not below decks in the stokehold or   
boiler room at the time of the collision.
Curran kept an account, written up after the disaster as it is entitled: “The personal
experiences of one of the Victoria survivors, James Curran”.

Now let this account tell his story….. “I was on the ‘Debris deck’ {this was the area
in which the refuse from the shop was stored prior to dumping overboard, Curran
may have been taking clinker from the boilers up to that deck to dispose of it over
the side} on the First Dog watch, I heard a loud crash and the big ship shuddered
from stem to stern. Then I heard a friend posted on the water  tight door shout -
‘look alive Curran!’ I replied hold a bit and just managed getting out as the door
closed, thereby imprisoning the watch of about 100 men below, not one of them
ever getting out.
When I reached the upper deck the awfulness of the position was forced upon me. The men were fell in, four deep, on the quarterdeck
facing outboard and no order was given to lower the boats or to save ourselves.  We could hear the guns on the battery deck taking
charge and rushing from port to starboard smashing everything before them. At this juncture the order was given: ‘jump men save
yourselves!’
The men sprang from the port side in scores and as the Victoria capsized they were smashed and killed on the vessel’s rolling chocks,
and those that went too  far aft were cut to pieces by the propellers which were turning with frightful speed at the time.  
I got as far as the vessel’s rolling chocks when with a sudden lurch she turned completely over and I was tossed into the sea.
As the vessel sank there was a terrible suction and time after time I was sucked below, but again and again I came to the surface amidst
hundreds of my comrades only to be sucked down by the overpowering suction and by the Italians and Maltese catching at you.

I saw many a strong swimmer meet his death through this.  I managed to keep myself afloat for a period of 40 minutes until picked up
by a boat from HMS Dreadnought, on board of which vessel I was placed unconscious.
Later I heard that over 400 of my shipmates had found a ‘sailors grave’.”

Curran in his introduction describes the sinking as:…”like the charge of Balaklava. Someone had blundered and it is blunders such as this
as makes wives widows, children orphans, and cost so many of our British bluejackets their lives….”

Curran participated in the court martial following the disaster & was subsequently discharged from the RN on 12 Aug, as it was
discovered (perhaps during the proceedings) that he had deserted from the Army(Regiment or Corps not given) prior to entry into the
RN.

Two entries on his Service record pertain to this:

“War Office do not desire to claim this man as a deserter from Army. To be discharged or retained in the (Naval) Service accordingly as C
in C sees fit.”

“GC&B (Clothing gratuity and bedding allowance) not to be recovered from this man on his fraudulent entry, his kit having been lost in
Victoria”
(This entry meant that Curran, who had received the initial signing on clothing & bedding allowance of £3/10/0, was not required to
repay it due to having lost his kit as a result of the sinking, however, he did not receive any further allowance as did the other survivors)

Curran was able to capitalize on his Victoria experience. After his return to UK, he had himself photographed, & hired himself out to
Joseph Poole’s Myriorama. Joseph Poole toured Britain with his 'Myriorama' show at the beginning of the twentieth century. It presented
huge paintings including scenes of the British Empire’s possessions round the world. These were wound on rollers past the spectators,
with special effects introduced by lighting changes. The show was quite varied & typically made up of projected images, cinematograph
shorts, and vaudeville acts by various artists & performers.  No doubt during Curran’s ‘performance’ a backdrop of HMS Victoria sinking
would have been appropriate.
Would have loved to view it!

What became of Curran after Pooles I don"t know, I have been unable to trace him through census.