- Shipwreckedby Bonnie Seach
This work has reached the exceptional level
A shipwrecked mother refuses to abandon her two dead sons
Shipwrecked by Bonnie Seach
    Lighthouse Mystery Contest Winner 

On the 7th September each year since 1838 a figure has appeared on the rocks near the Lingstine Lighthouse off the coast of England.

She has been seen in a flowing white gown, waving her arms in the air and calling in a high pitched voice.

She appears shortly before dawn and disappears a few hours later.
No-one has been able to understand what it is that she cries out.

Locals delved into the past to discover a reason behind the annual phenomenon.

There was a paddlesteamer making its way to Scotland on that tragic night. Gale force winds caused a turbulent sea to pound the vessel.

Its engines died, and before her sails could be set, she drifted toward rocks about three hundred yards beyond the lighthouse.

The vessel struck the rocks and broke in two. She started to sink. Thirty four passengers and twelve crew members drowned.

Sixteen passengers and four of the ship's sailors made it to the rocks. They clung together there in the stormy weather.

Mr. Brown the lighthouse keeper and his family lived in the lighthouse. The eldest child, 23 year old Thelma was descending the spiral staircase to the living area at dawn when she saw the battered ship through a window. Grabbing the telescope she was able to see survivors clinging to the windswept rocks.

Thelma urged her father to prepare their flat bottomed 21 foot rowing boat for a rescue attempt. In the prevailing conditions it would generally take at least four strong men to row the boat to those rocks. Her father said it was too dangerous to row the boat in that sea. Thelma persisted and they set off.

By the time they reached the survivors there were only nine left.

Two teenage boys had died on the rocks from exposure and exhaustion. Five passengers had been washed off the rocks and disappeared underwater. Two sailors dived in to save them and also disappeared.

The two surviving sailors helped steady the boat while five of the survivors clamoured into it.

Thelma's father fought the waves with his two oars to prevent the boat being smashed against the rocks.

A woman in her flowing white undergarment sat weeping as she held her two lifeless sons. She had removed her outer clothing to cover her boys.
She refused to leave without her teenage sons.
Thelma's father instructed her to leave the woman Mrs. Banks, and her boys' lifeless bodies with one of the sailors, and to help him row the other survivors to the safety of the lighthouse.

A forceful wind and the choppy sea swept them off course. They were devastated to have to row 1,700 yards to the rear of the lighthouse. It took three hours before Thelma and the accompanying sailor were able to row back to the rocks to fetch Mrs. Banks and the other sailor.

Mrs. Banks stood up to meet them. She said she had decided to remain with her two boys.
Thelma pleaded with her but she was adamant.

"I cannot abandon my children," she wailed in anguish.

"Please help me get this woman into the boat," Thelma shouted
above the roar of the storm.

"I can't leave the boat. It will crash against the rocks. Get in Thelma! We'll have to go, or we'll die here."

She tried once more to persuade Mrs. Banks to leave with them.
Mrs. Banks refused.
They rowed with all their strength in the twilight.
The sea had calmed a little and rowing back to the lighthouse was easier.

Queen Victoria awarded Thelma and her father each a gold medal for bravery and fifty new British pound notes.

For many years, on the anniversary of the shipwreck Mrs.Banks appeared on the rocks near the Lingstine Lighthouse.

They said she was calling for help.

Writing Prompt
A ghostly woman in a flowing white dress has been haunting the lighthouse. Who is she and what is her story? Write about what happened in 300 - 700 words.
Lighthouse Mystery
Contest Winner


Author Notes
The story is based on a true shipwreck.
It was embroidered with subtle threads to render it fiction.
Thank you


© Copyright 2011 Bonnie Seach All rights reserved.
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