11th Class English Chapter 2 Birkenhead Drill

Chapter 2 Birkenhead Drill

11th Class English Chapter 2 BIRKENHEAD DRILL

Q:1:When and where did the Birkenhead sink? or What kinds of people were being carried as passengers on the Birkenhead?
Ans)The Birkenhead was a troopship. In February 1851, more than a hundred and fifty years ago, it was carrying soldiers and their families to South Africa. There were six hundred and thirty people on the ship. Of these, one hundred and seventy were women and children. The soldiers were mostly young, inexperienced men, most of whom had joined the army only recently. The officers were few. For the most part, they, too, were young and inexperienced. 

Q:2:How did the Birkenhead come to be wrecked? or Was any member of the crew to blame?
Ans)Sixty-four kilometers from Cape Town in South Africa, there was a rock in the sea, which was then unknown and undiscovered. It was not shown in any of the maps of the sea. Therefore, it was unfair to blame any of them. It was 25th February when at two o’ clock in the early morning, there was a crash. The ship had struck the hidden rock. Ten minutes later, the ship struck the rock again and was split into two. The front half soon sank into the waters and disappeared. 

Q:3:Why was there lifeboat accommodation for only 180 people after the collision with the rock?
Ans)Was there enough room in the lifeboats for all the women and children?
When the ship struck against the rock, most of the lifeboats were damaged or destroyed. Only three of them were in useful condition. Six hundred and thirty people to be saved! As against that, there were only three lifeboats, each of which could carry only sixty passengers! Only a hundred and eighty would find room in these three boats. 

Q:4:What would probably have happened if there had been a panic?
Ans)There were six hundred and thirty people on the wrecked ship and room in the lifeboats were only for one hundred and eighty! One would have expected a panic. For life is sweet. Men and women, struggling for their lives, all-struggling to get into one of the lifeboats, would surely have caused a panic. In the resulting confusion, men, women and children might have been crushed under foot. The boats might have been overloaded and sunk under the weight. If such a thing had happened on the Birkenhead, no one would have been saved. 

Q:5:Describe the behavior of the soldiers while the women and children escaped in the boats.
Ans)Women and children first was the order of the day. The commander of the troops called on his men to gather on deck in proper drill order. Line upon line of red coated soldiers with set faces, stood in their ranks calmly, awaiting their fate. The men stood and watched as the women and children were placed in the boats. As the boats sailed away, they saw the red lines of uniformed soldiers standing at attentions if they were at their daily drill. 

Q:6:Were many of men rescued who remained on the sinking ship? or How did the survivors among those left on the ship manage to save themselves?
Ans)A few of those struggled to the surface of the sea and held on to the pieces of the wreckage until a rescue ship arrived on the scene and picked them up. However, four hundred and thirty six men went down forever. Everyone was loyal to himself and to his duty. 

Q:7:Describe one heroic action that took place after the Birkenhead went down?
Ans)The commander of the troops was hanging on to some wreckage when he saw two young soldiers struggling in the water. He pushed the wreckage towards them and all three held on to it. Then the commander realized that if he hung on with the boys, the wreckage was not strong enough to support all three. Therefore, he left his hand and sank into the sea. 

Q:8:How do you know that the soldiers behaved with gallantry and discipline up to the very last?
Ans)The one officer of the troops, who was rescued, reported: “The determination of all hands was far more than I thought could be affected by the best discipline. Everyone did as directed. There was not a murmur among them. Orders were carried out as if the men were getting on the ship instead of going to the bottom!”