Since the sea covered the land bridge to the continent and we became an island seafaring nation, thousands have navigated the channel and through the historic timeline of our naval history both Royal and Merchant, no-one knows the total thousands of seafarers who have been lost on the Goodwin sands. As a seaman and whilst on watch when coming up the channel heading for the Thames estuary one thing stands out on the Admiralty charts, the vast number of wrecks marked on this foreboding area.
Coming into the channel in good clear weather the senses are calm, in fog and a “Southerly blowing” the first haunting sound of the Dover fog horn catches your ears you become wary and conscious of the danger ahead from those days of study.
As young boy apprentice seaman at the Prince of Wales Sea Training School in Dover we were taught about navigation on the very charts of the Goodwin Sands and the Southern Approaches. They always struck a chord with us when we passed the Goodwin Sands for real; those wrecks and the losses we were made aware of on those charts made us safety conscious at sea and produced some of the best Masters and Seamen the Merchant Navy had in our day.
For men and women of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who died in both World Wars and “who have no known grave but the sea” they have an inscribed memorial on Tower Hill, London to commemorate their passing each September 3rd, and Merchant Navy Day.
For the thousands of seafarers and WW2 airmen who lost their lives on these sands and because the Goodwin Sands to us through the time line of our nations seafaring history, “is a known Grave” the evidence is overwhelming as the charts and our history show, so let the sands become their memorial.
“Make it our official grave do not desecrate our last resting place and memory” their souls would cry if able to call to us.
PJ Washington, MN.
Prince of Wales Sea Training School, Dover.