General Chanzy disaster 1910

Mar 20, 2000

Can anyone give me details of the General Chanzy disaster of February 1910? I have been able to find very little about it and what I have found is contradictory. Was it Feb. 9 or 10, 1910 for instance? And were 86 people lost or 200? I have found both figures listed.

The info I have is that the General Chanzy sank off Minorca, but so far I am finding nothing about what precisely happened to her.

I am interested in this sinking as Edith Russell was supposedly booked on the ship but cancelled; my thanks to Geoff Whitfield and Brian Meister for their tips about this story and to George Behe and Don Lynch for supplying the manuscript of Edith's most involved interview about the disaster.

I won't quote verbatim here from that article but in it Edith said she and a group of friends were staying at Nice and had purchased tickets to take the General Chanzy to Africa. She said while they were all taking tea at a hotel, she had a premonition that the General Chanzy would "blow up in mid ocean." She said she begged her fiance (who later died in the car wreck she was in near Deauville) to go to the American Express office and get their money back. He did and the next morning they read in the papers that the ship "blew up."

What does she mean? Does she mean it caught fire or that it actually exploded?

The General Chanzy is but one of several disasters Edith claimed to have been involved in, or else narrowly escaped. She was apparently saved from a train that was lost in the Johnstown Flood of 1889 and survived the Louisville Tornado of 1890. She even said she had been booked on the Lusitania's last voyage but cancelled at the last minute (I'm not sure about that one!)

If anybody can help me with details on the General Chanzy, I would be very appreciative.

Mar 20, 1997
I have a book called Disasters at Sea, a decade by decade summary of all sinkings of large ocean ships ranging from a number of non-casualty sinkings to the most deadly like the Titanic and Estonia. This book was originally written by the late Milton H. Watson and updated in the late 90s after his passing.

The General Chanzy has a three paragraph piece. It lists the ship's date of departure as Feb. 9, 1910 with the sinking happening the night of Feb. 10. According to this, there were 87 passengers and 70 crew aboard. The ship was taking refuge from rough seas off Minorca when the engines failed and the ship was thrown by the seas into the rocks and rapidly went down. There was a single survivor, an Algerian customs official named Marcel Rodel who managed to hold on to a piece of wreckage until picked up my a fisherman at dawn. Thus this source shows a death toll of 156. Marseille was impacted significantly by the tragedy as most of the passengers hail from there.

I hope this helps you, Randy.


Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
You're not likely to receive a response from Francoise, Axel; if you click on her name, you'll see that this is the only message she ever posted here, and that she hasn't visited this board since she posted it.
Jul 20, 2006
Thanks for all the information. The reason for my silence is that on July 5 I broke my right wrist, surgery, 3 days in the hospital, Physical Therapy for 4 months, then discovery that the hardware place during surgery was wrong and damaging, second surgery on Oct. 30, and now I am on PT again, and constant pain.
I am so grateful for your message. I know now that my family didn't suffer too much, it was really fast. They were on their was to visit the grand parents from the second marriage, taking the 2 children, leaving my mother and her brother behind. The grandfather was a colonel who was stationed in Algiers. I remember the grandmother telling us how they would go every day to the pier to wait for the ship that never arrived, She did live to 99 though, a most religious woman.
Thanks again, and let me know if you got this message.
Francoise Gilbert
Sep 10, 2009
I am doing a small work about "Général Chanzy" shipwreck and I would appreciate if you know details about "Randy Bryan Bigham" referenced story related with Edit Russell and Général Chanzy cancellation trip...

Best Regards
Jul 20, 2006
at some time I was contacted by Spanish gentleman whose grandfather had told him about the general
Chanzy disaster.
I moved and lost his address.
Hope you can help me

Gianni Yrois

Aug 17, 2011

a friend of my mother, said that the sister of her great grandmother died on a french ship when it went down in 1910, but her 6 years old daughter was saved but died later of expurse, is it possible that the ship was the general chanzy

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