Cornwall

Hera shipwreck centenary marked with series of events

Part of the grave in Veryan
Image caption Nineteen bodies were recovered and buried in Veryan
The grave at Veryan
Image caption The grave is more than 30m (98ft) long

Sailors buried in what historians believe is Britain's longest grave will be remembered in a series of events in a Cornish village.

The German barque Hera, which hit rocks off the Roseland 100 years ago, was 90 days into a voyage from Chile.

It was carrying a cargo of nitrates when it hit thick fog, striking a reef that runs out from Nare Head.

The vessel had a crew of 24, only five survived, and the bodies which were recovered are buried in Veryan.

The grave itself is more than 30m (98ft) long.

The crew of the Hera are being honoured, 100 years on, with an exhibition, concert and requiem service.

Father Doug Robbins, the vicar of Veryan, said: "It was 31 January into 1 February, it was cold and wet.

"They were clinging to the mast and rigging as best they could. Gradually one by one, apart from five of them, [they] fell off."

A Maltese sailor, Joseph Cauchi, was almost missed by rescuers.

Father Robbins said: "When the lifeboat did get there, they took four off, but didn't realise he was there. He had to call out that there was one more."

Everyone in the parish went to the funerals which were held in Veryan.

Christine Edwards, a villager who used to work at the County Records Office, said: "It was a young crew, possibly not as experienced as they might have been.

"People on the shore could see and hear them but they couldn't reach them. I think that was the tragedy of it."

A series of events, which include an exhibition, and a requiem service on Sunday, will be held throughout the weekend.

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