The beautiful iron steamer Superb (which plied between Jersey and France under the command of Capt Priaulx, and with Mr Fleming as her chief mate, left St Malo, on Tuesday 24 September 1850, about half-past 8 o'clock in the morning, on her passage to Jersey, having on board between 50 and 60 persons, including her crew. The weather was beautifully clear and calm.
Thus freighted with hopeful passengers, and favored by auspicious weather, the Superb steamed towards Jersey, at the rate, according to the statement of Johnson (the engineer), of about 15 miles an hour.
At a few miles distance from a rock called the Maitre-ile (according to the statement of Philip Cunning. the carpenter of the Superb, who very narrowly escaped drowning, “some of the passengers expressed a wish to see the spot where the Polka was lost a week before. He thought the Captain, with a desire to gratify them, altered the course of the steamer and proceeded in that direction - John Flcming, the mate, having told him that there was no danger, and that he knew the passage well.”
To effect this, the Superb had to pass through an opening, called the east passage, which is about a quarter of a mile to the east of where the Polka sank. This passage is full of rocks, which at high water are covered, having a depth over them of from 10 to 20 feet. At half-past nine o'clock (at which time the mate was at the wheel and Capt Priaulx on the bridge of the paddle-box), the vessel — probably owing to the tide being lower than anticipated — struck with great force against one of the hidden rocks, remained immoveable, filled with water, and was a perfect wreck.
- "The crew and passengers, fearing that the vessel was sinking, as the water was pouring into the hold with great rapidity, rushed simultaneously to the boats, which they lowered from the starboard quarter, and one of the crew (Monet) and a boy (William) leaped into the small boat, followed by several passengers — that, being overcrowded, she immediately turned over, and every one that was in her perished, with the exception of Mullet, seaman, and Mr Monteith, who were picked up by a fishing-boat, when nearly exhausted, having been in the water for upwards of two hours, and driven out by the force of the current, which was fast ebbing at the time.
- ”The second boat met with a similar fate, having turned over and was lost. Most of the passengers, however, succeeded in regaining the wreck".
In the first boat, to which he had taken, were Mr and Mrs Hilgrove Gosset, Mr Jackson and his two children (son and daughter) Miss Price, of Guernsey, and others, who were strangers to him. A fishing boat with two Men (Hamon and son) picked him up, as also the lifeless body of Mr Gosset, and conveyed them on board the cutter Jupiter (St Malo trader), Capt G Marie, which had come to their assistance, and had anchored within 50 yards of the spot where the vessel was wrecked, and which, as the tide receded, was considerably above the water, her stern immersed up to the paddle-box, and her bow elevated far out of the sea.
The Collier (Capt Drake), on arriving from Shoreham about 11, and hearing of the disaster, immediately put out to their assistance, and on arriving off the fatal spot, lay to, and sent her boats to the wreck, near which the Jupiter had been lending every aid towards the safety of the survivors and their property.
After great and humane exertions, all sthe shipwrecked people were placed safely on board the Collier, which returned to St Helier Harbour about 9 in the evening. The following is a list of the persons drowned on the melancholy occasion:
Mr and Mrs I H Gosset, of Portland Place, St Helier; Mr Jackson, son and daughter; Mr Willis and niece; Mr Rattenbury; Miss price, daughter of Capt Price, RN, resident in Guernsey; Mr Henry Lloyd; Mr W, H, Hall; Palmer, a stoker; Bellot, the cook; Patrick Williams, the cabin boy; Mr Sedgwick; Mr Nott from Gorey; and it is supposed one or two others .
It is melancholy to add that some of those who had escaped bring drowned by the wreck of the Polka were amoung those who met their deaths in this sad disaster.
The Superb belonged to Thomas Rose, of this island, and was uninsured.