There are 316 men on the roll. The ship did off-load a brigade of some 50 men, "Captain, junior lieutenants and the naval brigade - about 50 men in all".
This would accord with one account which talks of 250-odd men being taken ashore after the incident.
I would therefore guess that about 265 men who received the medal were on board when she ran aground.
Who those men were is another question...
Of the 316 recipients (including duplicates and returned medals), 218 received the no clasp medal. Would it be safe to presume these men were definitely aboard?
98 men received either 1 or 2 clasps. These will include the initial Naval Brigade and some men who served ashore after the incident. But, some 50 of these were only landed after the ship ran aground. I don't know which men were already ashore and which came later.
HC Deb 21 March 1901 vol 91 cc702-3 702
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB (Great Yarmouth)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty what officers, besides the captain, and what number of bluejackets and marines respectively belonging to H.M.S. "Sybille" were on duty on shore when that ship was wrecked; and whether the Admiralty have information to the effect that the captain of the ship has since specially complimented the engineer and stokers for saving all the heavy guns under very difficult circumstances when the ship was ashore.
§ *THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER, Belfast, W.)
The information received at the Admiralty is to the effect that the captain, two lieutenants, and fifty men were 703 anded. Captain Williams, in his evidence before the Court-Martial, remarked that the work in connection with saving the guns reflected great credit on Mr. Dawson, assistant engineer, and his party of stokers. The Court added the following rider to the sentence— The Court are of opinion that every possible effort was made to save the ship after she first struck, and that good order and discipline were maintained under trying and difficult circumstances, and that the salvage operations were conducted in a manner creditable to all the officers and men taking part therein.
HC Deb 20 June 1901 vol 95 cc895-6 895
§ *SIR JOHN COLOMB
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is yet in a position to state the composition of the force of fifty men which, with the captain and two lieutenants, were absent on duty on shore from H.M.S. "Sybille," and the composition of the complement remaining on board when that ship was wrecked; and, if so, 896 can he state the figures for each branch afloat and ashore belonging to the ship when the occurrence took place.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. ARNOLD-FORSTER, Belfast, W.)
The composition of the force on shore was as follows:—Captain, 2 lieutenants, 33 petty officers and men of executive and navigating branch, 5 engineer branch, 2 miscellaneous ratings, 1 sergeant and 10 men of the Royal Marines, total 54. The complement remaining on board was composed of 13 remaining officers of the ship, 85 executive and navigating branch, 87 engineer branch, 13 artificers, 16 miscellaneous ratings, 15 Royal Marines, 18 Kroomen, total 247.