15 thoughts on “The sad story of Dr Sidney Bernard”

  1. Many years ago I served as an engineer on BP tankers there was a boat called ‘Sidney Bernard’ which used to bring out the ships stores it was run I think by Ivan Dollimore. I often used to wonder about the origins of the name which I only discovered a couple of years ago.

  2. The grave slab is now one metre below the surface. I wonder if it sank into the soft mud of Burntwick Island or if the mud has built up by that amount in 175 years.

    1. The saltings have built up over the last 100 years since land was flooded and let to the sea.
      Over past ten years the level has risen by around 10 cm, which equates to approximately 10 cm per decade. One of the corners has a grassy mound over it now.
      When the plaque was retrieved in c1952 there was around 20 to 25 cm silt over the grave slab. So the siltation has been happening at a fairly steady and consistent rate.
      I would ask that people don’t go traipsing around looking for grave: Sidney Bernard should continue to rest in peace.

    1. That’s great to have the link, Nick – the BBC picked my brains before filming but didn’t tell me when it was broadcast – I caught something very, very brief but it didn’t seem to be the whole story.

      I recall that you were one of the first people who consulted with me about Sidney Bernard, when I was still relatively new in post at the Institute of Naval Medicine. It took years but I eventually found the plaque from the grave which had been in the chapel at RN Hospital Chatham – it was in the basement and is now on display!

      I am still at INM looking after the Historic Collections but will be retiring in October.

  3. The Story of the HMS Eclair (the vessel on which Dr. Bernard had returned to England) is scandalous, too. I have researched the story from the very beginnings in 1844 when HMS Eclair started to control slave ships on the west African Coast until it’s return to England in October 1845 and the following examinations about the epidemic disease that wiped out at least half of Boa Vista’s population – disease and quarantine as a an element of economic relations in the 19th Century. The history of the HMS Hankey which introduced yellow fever to the US fifty years before this happening is shocking, too. Unfortunately, my text is in German, but if you like to read it don’t hesitate to contact me on my website. Claus Donau, Basel/Switzerland

    1. Hi Claus
      Thank you for your interesting comment on the article about Dr Sidney Bernard and for your offer of your account of the tragic story.
      However I doubt of there are more than a few around here who can read German well enough to understand it.
      best wishes
      Tony Lavelle
      MSBA Webmaster

    2. Hallo Claus,

      I too have researched the story, although I have not produced anything except in parts of presentations which were reprinted in the Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service.

      If anybody else is interested, many of the original printed sources are available online and I can give directions.

      1. I am interested, indeed. Where and how can I find informations? Maybe we can share our sources and texts (unfortunately mine are in German since I’m German, but anyway). Best from Basel, Switzerland. Claus

      2. Hi Jane, I’m very interested in the story of Sidney Bernard and would love to know where the plaque is which was on his grave. You had mentioned that it was in the chapel at the Royal Naval Hospital Chatham but I cannot work out where this is! Any googling of the chapel indicates it is no longer there. Is there any way you could point me in the right direction please so I could go to see the plaque? I would love to do a story about him to celebrate him on the anniversary of his death on 9th October. Thank you very much. Nicola White.

  4. When we had a Royal Dockyard & Navy base at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey the grave was rightly and properly tended, I personally think it is an absolute disgrace. I would like to visit the site and will see if there is anything that can be done. I understand that the publicly funded Quango Natural England don’t like people to visit the nearby Deadman’s Island where countless sailors were buried, I’m told that these pompous officials are failing to prevent the tidal erosion and through their inaction many of the human remains are allowed to slip into the Swale. Hardly the respect we should show to those who served our Country.
    Lt Peter MacDonald RNR retired Isle of Sheppey Kent

    1. Dear Nicola, I did like the video, many of the burials on dead man’s Island were not convicts but servicemen accommodated on Hulk ships as they were in many Royal Naval Ports. There were also Napoleonic prisoners of war. Dr Bernard was of course an officer & I understand the powers that be decided to bury him on Burtwick Island possibly due to Yellow fever infection which is why he was laid to rest there. I would like to visit the grave .
      During the last war, a number of ladies were transported from Sheerness Dockyard each day by boat, left there each day to assemble munitions, being ladies with very nimble fingers they were first class @ the job. My maternal Grandmother’s youngest sister Auntie Flo was one of these. Peter MacDonald

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *