GUN RAMMER HEADS

By the middle of 1980 we were sure that we had found the wreck of the Invincible. However, there were significant flaws in the theory.

  1. Among the artifacts recovered to date were some gun “rammer” heads.  These were stamped with the size of gun for which they were intended.  We found them for gun sizes 9, 24 & 32 pounder guns.  The original manifest for Invincible following her capture showed her to have sizes 9, 18 & 32 pounder guns. And so you see there was an anomaly in the gun size on the upper deck.
  2. The official Admiralty record into the loss of the Invincible in 1758 gave her final position as being on the “Owers light shoal” which is situated some 20 miles further east along the coast.
  3. According to all Army, Navy and governmental records, the numbered regimental buttons we were finding on the wreck, did not come into existence until 1776 and the Invincible sank some eighteen years earlier in 1758!

Now, fishermen live mainly on their luck and I have to say that Arthur is particularly lucky. Together with David Houghton and John Bingeman, he went into the records vaults at the Historic Priddy’s Hard in Gosport Hampshire.  In amongst tens of thousands of papers they somehow found a document dated 3rd December  1747 from the Lords of the Admiralty  – the first sentence read: -

“Sir,
I am obliged to acquaint you that His Majesty’s ship Invincible, is for the future to be gunned with 24 pounders upon her upper deck instead of the eighteen pounders as devised by the Lords of the Admiralty” etc. etc.

Soon after this, John Bingeman found an extract from the log of the ‘Bedford’ that was moored in the lee of the Isle of Wight at the time of the Invincible’s demise.  The Bedford was there because she was in a sorry state of repair and unable to put to sea.  Written and signed by Captain Rodney (later to become Admiral Rodney) the log reads: -

“This day we did witness the destruction of Invincible, ashore upon the Deans Sands”
So then, we had now located the original historic documents, changing her gun sizes to matc the ‘Gun Rammers’ we were finding and we had a documented eye witness account of her position - this was proof enough for us but, as yet still not enough for the receiver of wrecks!

Proof positive came on the 30th May 1981 when we found a tally stick tied in some old tarred sail cloth and on it the words: -

Invincible –
Flying Jib 26  x  26  No 6
The arguments carried on for some time regarding the anomaly over the buttons but no one could dispute the fact that we had discovered the wreck of the finest fighting ship in the Navy of His Majesty King George 2nd