On the 23rd of December, 1808, the Fama (which had sailed from Carlscrona the previous day, in consort with some other men-of-war, and a convoy of merchantmen,) struck upon the Island of Bornholm, in the midst of such dense darkness, and so blinding a fall of snow, that it was impossible to discern any of the surrounding objects. The moment the ship struck, Lieutenant Topping, her commander, sprung from his berth and rushed upon deck, without giving himself time to put on his clothes. In his anxiety for the safety of his ship, and of those who were on board, he continued to give his orders, without any other protection from the piercing blast and driving snow than a blanket, which one of his men had thrown over his shoulders; ’in fifteen minutes from the time the vessel first struck, he fell upon the deck a corpse.’ One man and a woman shared the same fate, the rest of the crew survived the night, and were next morning saved by the Danes.
The circumstances attending the loss of the Pandora were still more horrible. She struck on the Scaw Reef, a shoal on the coast of Jutland, on the night of the 13th of February, 1811, and in three hours her rudder was carried away, and the hold nearly filled with water. The wind was bitterly cold, and, as the men were unable to get below, they were in danger of being either washed overboard, or frozen to death, before morning. In this dreadful state they remained until daybreak, when it was discovered that several of them had perished from the inclemency of the weather. The survivors contrived to cut a hole in the side of the deck which was above water, through which they crept below, one by one, to seek protection from the cold. During the day, some boats attempted to put out to their assistance, but the sea ran so high that it was impossible to approach the wreck. The unhappy crew, disappointed in their hopes of relief, endeavoured to launch the boats; but these were so encased in ice, that they resembled large blocks of marble, and it was impossible to move them. In the course of the night the wind and sea abated, and the Danes succeeded in rescuing the people of the Pandora from their perilous situation, but not before twenty-nine had perished from the intense cold.
The month of November, 1811, was most disastrous to the Baltic Fleet. The British ships of war had already suffered so severely from attempting the dangerous navigation of the Northern Seas too late in the year, that the commander-in-chief on the station received orders on no account to delay the departure of the last homeward-bound convoy beyond the 1st of November. In obedience to these instructions, Rear-Admiral Reynolds sailed with a convoy from Hano on that day, having hoisted his broad pendant on board the St. George, of 98 guns, Captain Daniel Oliver Guion; but owing to severe gales he was compelled to put back on three several occasions, and the weather did not permit him finally to leave the anchorage until the 12th of