[by Earl Blacklock] There have been many great shipwrecks in history, the Titanic being only the most memorable. There is another – that of the troopship Birkenhead in 1852 – which deserves remembrance. The Birkenhead was carrying British soldiers and their families to South Africa when it struck an uncharted rock 40 miles from Capetown. The initial collision had caused devastating damage, and the disaster became complete when the ship struck again, splitting in two, the bow quickly sinking. The 630 people on board, including 170 women and children, were in mortal peril. Only three 60-person lifeboats were left and it was clear that, in the shark-infested waters, only those with a seat on a lifeboat would survive.