Captain William BranscombePrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Arthur Garland

The plaque commemorates Captain William Branscombe, captain of the ship "Loch Leven" which was wrecked at King Island in October 1871. Captain Branscombe drowned while attempting to salvage mail from the wrecked ship. 

Rushing the first wool clip of the season from Geelong to the early London wool sales, the Loch Leven was only two days into her journey when disaster struck. In heavy fog and boisterous seas, she was caught by the heavy current that rounds the northern tip of King Island and struck rocks at 2.30 am on 24 October 1871. There was nothing that could be done to save the ship. The crew and passengers made it safely to shore, and were taken to the safe haven of the Cape Wickham lighthouse. The next day, Captain William Branscombe made a fateful decision to try to retrieve the ship’s mails. With a volunteer crew, he set out for the wreck in the lighthouse whaleboat. In the words of one of the crew, King Islander William Hickmott, this is what happened: "All went well until we attempted to round Cape Wickham, when it was found impossible to stem the full force of the gale, and the attempt had to be abandoned … on the return when off the point a huge sea broke right into the boat, completely burying her. The boat capsized. Three men managed to cling to the keel. The first officer Mr Mathews, the steward, the lightkeeper and the writer succeeded in swimming ashore, but Captain Branscombe was drowned." Captain Branscombe was buried at Cape Wickham.




Address:King Island, Cape Wickham, 7256
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -39.589831
Long: 143.940588
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People


Front Inscription

Erected By A Few Shipmasters And Friends
As A Tribute Of Respect To The Memory Of

Of The Ship Loch Leven Of Glasgow Wrecked
       At This King`s Island On The
         21st Day Of October 1871

       In His 45th Year Of His Age

"He lost his life in the execution of his duty" 

Left Side Inscription



Source: MA
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