The Live Bait Squadron fact

 

 

A contemporary German postcard ‘celebrates’ the sinking of the three cruisers and makes a hero of U9’s commander, Otto Weddigen

Prelude to WW1

‘Some damn foolish thing in the Balkans would likely trigger the next great war in Europe;’ the German Chancellor Otto Van Bismark warned.  On June 8th 1914 in Sarajevo Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenburg were assassinated. These two bullets started WW1. It led to 60 million men under arms. Nine million were left dead.

The armistice on 11th November 1918, represented not so much a victory or defeat, but sheer exhaustion.

As Britain and her allies prepared to take up arms. There were many high-ranking British service officers who saw this as their last chance to go down in history. Australian military historian and expert on WW1 Dr. John Laffin summed the ‘Army commanding officers’ up perfectly in his great book: British Butchers and Bunglers of world war one. 56 days after war was declared, there was a monumental Royal Navy tragedy that was hushed up; I want to add this. And Name the men responsible and those who opposed it.

Dr. Laffan’s book: ISBN1-84100-012-4. 1988 Brimley Books Ltd, Godalming Business Centre, Woolsack Way, Godalming, Surrey. GU7 1XW.

Frederick Pennson Wells was born in 1887. Aged 18 he joined The Royal Marines light infantry and was posted to Chatham in Kent. After training as a physical training instructor he was promoted to Sergeant. He married Nellie Gertrude Corben from Southsea in Hampshire.  They had two children: Frederick Pennson and Nellie Gertrude. They lived in a rented terrace house at 15 Hills Terrace, Chatham. In 1914, Fred was about 10, Nell – as she was known about 8. Sergeant Wells was aboard HMS Hawke. An old out-of-date rust bucket.

Chapter 1

World War One was declared on July 28, 1914.

On a sunny July morning in 1914. The Royal Marines Barracks large, sloping parade ground at Chatham, Physical Training Instructor Sergeant Wells puts men and youth reservists dressed in Vests, shorts and plim soles through a keep-fit training session. He is having a hard time.

“Come on you lot, let’s see a lot more effort. Royal Marines are made of better stuff than you miserable bunch of farmers and factory workers. Legs apart up down arms up down. None of you know what’s right and left. Pull your fingers out. Swing those arms, if you don’t I’ll rip it off and hit you over the head with the soggy end.”

Three-hundred recruits jumped up, arms outstretched.

Wells struts between the rows. “I’ve got six weeks to get you in shape. Most of you look like I’ll need a year. If you don’t wing those arms, I’ll rip ‘em off your shoulders and hit you over the head with the soggy ends.

At the parade grounds east end. The Royal Marine Band in full parade dress marched and played, A Life on the Ocean Wave.

Nearby another large group of uniformed reservists were doing rifle drill.

“At ease.” Sergeant Scott roared out. The smooth polished brass tips and hinge of his gleaming pace-stick tucked under his right armpit. He stepped back several paces. His highly polished boots glistened.  “Atten……tion.” there was a pause in his pronunciation. His torso tensed as he shouted. He stepped forward, he looked at the men. “Shoul…..der arms.” That familiar pause again. The marines are sharp – all in time. Scott pauses. “Pre…..sent arms.” Another pause.

As the Rifles swung vertically in front of their chests, their right foot instep stamped behind their left heel and hit the concrete as one loud noise. The men stood perfectly still, waiting.

One hundred marines with full kit bags strapped onto backs, rifles held hip-high above their heads jogged around parade ground perimeter. One called out. “What a bloody joke. Just to show those arse-holes up there.”

In a spotless three-story building. AN OTHER?  Stared down at the hive of activity. He chuckled and pointed at the jogging marines. “I say… That’s the ticket…what. Make marines of the farmers and factory workers.” Several other senior Navy officers sniggered.

Many civilians leaned on the two pairs massive iron barrack gates at the parade ground ends, watching. A small boy Charles Timmins eyed the band and stomped his feet to the beat, he swung his head left, and right.

Mr. Timmins patted Charles’s head. “Too young for this mob Charlie.”

“I’ll be all right as bugler won’t I dad he answered.”

Mr. Timmins tapped young Charles head. “Plenty of time for that.’

Chapter 2

Wells was an experienced senior NCO and used to training men of all ages. For the first time in service, he worried about what was going on. At home that evening, and out of character, he voiced his concerns to Nellie his devoted wife.

“I’m sure Fred those at the top know what they’re doing. That’s why they’re at the top. Here, sit down a nice piece of beef and vegetables from the garden.  Fred and Nell are outside playing with their friends.” Nellie placed a plate of food, then eased the salt and pepper over.

Fred smiled, “That looks good Nell. You’re a good cook, runs in your family.”

“When are you off to Portsmouth, and what for, is this some sort of secret? The other wives haven’t heard a dicky-bird.” Nell asked.

“I keep my head down Nell, and do what I’m told like the rest of us sergeants. They leave the physical stuff to me, thank goodness. These officers do what I tell ‘em out there, otherwise its forty-pushups. That sorts the men from the boys.”

Chapter 3

September 1 1914. Portsmouth Dockyard, England.

The ROYAL MARINE band in full parade dress, played stirring military music. Rising above them on the high-tide were three old, battered, obsolete Royal Navy, armored cruiser war ships: HMS Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue. Each was heavily crewed by reservists and trainees.

 

Tied up taking on board the crews, provisions, and coal for the steam engines. Each belched, thick, black acrid smoke into the still, chilly September evening air.

Uniformed men carrying bulging kit bags shouted their name to Royal Marine Sergeants standing at the deck end of the gangplanks who ticked the name on their lists. Without stopping they shoved and clambered up several gangplanks to board the ships.

“Timmins sergeant”

The voice Sergeant Wells heard; was soft. Curious, he stared down at a uniformed youth carrying his bugle. “Can you play that?”

“Yes, sergeant. I get winded though.” He said grinning.

Wells paused, the following men were impatient and nudged everyone forward. “Come on Sarg.” Someone hollered out.

“Quiet in the ranks, or you’ll be on the charge,” Wells shouts above the din. He bent down to the youth. “How old are you son?”

“Fourteen sergeant” he replied as he lifted his gleaming bugle.

Wells smiled, “Okay, Sonny Jim, climb aboard, and take care of that bugle you hear.” Wells shook his head and mumbled. “What the hell’s going on here?” He paused and stared at the lines of reservists; men and youths. “Okay let’s have you, and be smart about it. England’s counting on you to sort the Huns out, so you’ll be home for Christmas.”

On the next high-tide, the three ships sailed out into the English Channel on patrol. Their impossible orders; ‘entice’ German ships from the Belgian ports and sink them.

 

Chapter 4

Despite all the radio news and newspaper articles, the Royal Navy was not up to or anywhere near the task to defend Britain. The large coal-burning ships were out of date. Admiral Fisher said,” “They too weak to fight and too slow to run away. “A miser’s hoard of useless junk”.

It was September 22, 1914, and England was at war with Germany. Three slow cruisers; Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue were patrolling between Yarmouth and the Hook of Holland. The weather was grim, and high s were running. Their top speed was a mere 10 knots; they were not zigzagging in case German Submarines were about looking for business as it made them slower.

Kapitänleutnant  Otto Weddingen commanded U9, submerged earlier and waited for calmer waters. Later when he raised the periscope, he was amazed to see the three ships in-line abreast, like sitting ducks. Captain Drummond aboard Aboukir must have taken leave of his senses at such a stupid order. Otto Weddingen wasted no time, and Drummond thought he’d struck a mine. Aboukir quickly listed 20 degrees from a hole mid-ships and began sinking fast. He ordered Cressy and Hogue to stand by and pick up survivors. Crewman found only one lifeboat survived the attack, so they jumped into the cold channel.

Weddingen watched the cruiser roll over and sink. It was 25 minutes since he ordered, ‘loose.’ 527 reservists and youths went to the bottom in this rust bucket. Drummond second grave mistake, not knowing the difference being blasted by a torpedo and hitting a mine.

Weddingen lined up Hogue, two torpedoes scored hits amidships. With engine room flooded, Captain Nicholson suspected a submarine, and dropped rescue boats, believing the sinking Aboukir was between him and U9.

U9 surfaced and the Hogue Gunners tried shelling U9, but their gallant efforts failed. Considering the time, they had and the pandemonium it’s a wonder they managed even this. The Hogue sank in ten minutes.

Captain Johnson and his charge Cressy had big trouble. Johnson had also stopped to rescue survivors. It was too late when U9’s periscope was seen; two torpedoes were already on their way. One missed, the other holed Cressy, as her gunners desperately loaded the magazines, as the aimers angled barrels to where a periscope was seen. Cressy was still a threat to U9, but Weddingen turned around and fired his last torpedo. In fifteen minutes, the old steamer was gone.

Several Dutch ships began rescuing survivors at 08:30 and were joined by British fishing trawlers before Tyrwhitt and his ships arrived at 10:45. From the three ships: 837 men were rescued. 62 officers and 1,397 enlisted men lost.[17]  The whole action lasted only 90 minutes.

It was a severe blow for the Royal Navy just two months into the war. It should have been designated a ‘war grave’ in memory of these men and youths who were sacrificed. But it wasn’t. Then in 1954, the British Conservative government wanted this tragedy covered up at all speed. They sold the salvage rights to all three ships to a German company. They were subsequently sold again to a Dutch company.

In October 1914, the 10th Cruiser Squadron was deployed further south in the North Sea as part of efforts to stop German warships from attacking a troop convoy from Canada. On 15 October, the squadron was on patrol off Aberdeen, deployed in line abreast at intervals of about 10 miles. Hawke stopped at 9:30 am to pick up mail from sister ship Endymion. After recovering her boat with the mail, Hawke proceeded at 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) without zig-zagging to regain her station, and was out of sight of the rest of the Squadron when at 10:30 a single torpedo from the German submarine U-9 (which had sunk three British cruisers on 22 September), struck Hawke, which quickly capsized. The remainder of the squadron only realized anything was amiss, when, after a further, unsuccessful attack on Theseus, the squadron was ordered to retreat at high speed to the northwest, and no response to the order was received from Hawke. The destroyer Swift was dispatched from Scapa flow to search for Hawke and found a raft carrying one officer and twenty-one men, while a boat with a further forty-nine survivors was rescued by a Norwegian steamer. 524 officers and men died, including the ship’s captain, Hugh P. E. T. Williams, with only 70 survivors (one man died of his wounds on 16 October.

1,983 servicemen, reservists, and youths died on these 4 obsolete, rust buckets. The youngest was Charles Timmins. He was just 14.

So who was responsible for these fiascos? It is difficult to name one person. That said, I think it would be more appropriate to blame the First Sea Lord, as operationally responsible, even though of course Churchill as First Lord often interfered!

So who thought of it, then proposed it? Let’s look at those in a position to say ‘yes’ and those who objected, some of these high ranking men actually resigned their positions, because they objected to the whole idea, brave men.

The following link

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/admiralty_and_the_submarine_serv.htm

The Admiralty and the Submarine Service

The Admiralty in 1914 was less than enthusiastic about submarines and the role they could play in World War One. The Admiralty placed its faith in dreadnoughts and Britain’s traditional naval ships – and this, to a great extent, did not include submarines. The one main dissenting voice to this was Admiral John Fisher – and he resigned his post in 1915 in dispute with Winston Churchill over the Dardanelles campaign.

In August 1914, the Admiralty was steeped in what were really Victorian views as to our naval supremacy within not only Europe but the world. In Queen Victoria’s reign this was true – and what was true then, the Admiralty seemed to believe, had to be true in 1914. If the navy had not been faulted for so many years, why change it?

“The officers of the Navy were, of course, a microcosm of contemporary society; and in that society, the privileges of wealth and birth had as yet been little touched by the winds of reform. It is difficult not to feel that the authoritarian attitude and Victorian outlook of many senior officers of the period was a factor in the too slow adaptation of the service to the vast changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution.” S W Roskill “The Strategy of Sea Power”

The submarine and its use were a direct challenge to this system. Rather than greet the submarine as a weapon that would revolutionize naval strategy, the Admiralty viewed the submarine as a weapon that could end the Royal Navy’s supremacy. This belief was not new. In 1800, Fulton brought his “Nautilus” submarine to Britain to effectively show it off. William Pitt was impressed but not the Admiralty.

“Pitt was the greatest fool that ever existed to encourage a mode of warfare which those who command the sea did not want and which, if successful, would deprive them of it.” Earl Vincent, First Sea Lord

In 1900, George Goschen, First Lord of the Admiralty, said.

The Admiralty are not prepared to take any steps in regards to submarines because this vessel is the weapon of the weaker nation. If, however, this vessel can be rendered practical, the nation which possesses it will cease to be weak and will become really powerful. More than any other nation we should have to fear the attack of submarines.”

Whereas this quote gives an indication that Goschen saw that the submarine had potential as a weapon many others in the Admiralty supported the view of the Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy, Rear-Admiral Wilson: “A submarine is an underhand form of warfare….and a damned un-English weapon.”

Younger naval officers, who depended on senior officers for promotion, did not buck against this view. Britain’s first submarines were more the result of pressure from the newspapers rather than from inside the Navy itself. France was building up a fleet of submarines and this greatly concerned the media. Public pressure from them led to the building of the Holland and then the A and B class submarines.

From 1910 to 1914, the Admiralty showed little enthusiasm for submarines. In 1912, the War Staff had made the informed judgment that Germany would not use its submarines purely for coastal purposes and that they posed a real threat to Britain’s North fleets. Though the point was not lost on Winston Churchill, the Admiralty saw fit to ignore it.

“It was too novel an idea. With the exception of the First Sea Lord (Jackie Fisher), they all scoffed at such heresy and claimed that the staff were raising scares.” A. Marder “From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow”

Some senior politicians seemed to realize that the submarine had enormous potential. Arthur Balfour wrote to Fisher on October 25th, 1910 and stated that “days of the dreadnought are numbered”. However, the dreadnoughts seemed to symbolize the Royal Navy’s massive strength and it seemed inconceivable that a boat that barely weighed 1000 tonnes (as the impressive E class submarine did submerge) could even threaten something as mighty as a dreadnought with the first, HMS Dreadnought, weighing in a nearly 18,000 tonnes. In one sense, it is easy to see why senior figures in the Admiralty supported this view. The submarine most certainly did not have a track record in warfare – in fact, it was an unproven weapon of war. The pedigree of large and powerfully armed British warships went back centuries. On June 5th 1914, Admiral Sir Percy Scott wrote to “The Times”: “As the motor vehicle has driven the horse from the road, so will the submarine drive the battleships from the sea.”

His comments were immediately seized on by the press and the Admiralty. Scott was described as suffering from “an attack of midsummer madness.”

By the start of the war, the Royal Navy did have submarines but the Admiralty dictated how they should be used. Their use initially was to protect Britain’s coastline and few in the Admiralty saw them as offensive weapons at the start of the war. The Admiralty also saw submarines as being part of the fleet when it went into battle, though the problems experienced in the North Sea and at Jutland in particular, demonstrated the problems of this. It was the head of the Submarine Service in 1914, G Keynes, who ordered his submarines into the Heligoland Bight – not the Admiralty.

In 1916, the Admiralty ordered that submarines in the Bight were not to attack German naval ships leaving port. This was an attempt to tempt the German fleet out of harbor for a full-scale battle. However, the blockade had bottled up the German fleet in the harbor and there was little evidence that the Germans would have attempted to get out to engage the British – such was the effect of the naval blockade and the fear of British submarines and their potential.

The irony is that British submarines did not really have the potential to sink battleships as their armor was simply too great. When HMS Marlborough was hit by a German torpedo at Jutland, she continued to participate in the battle and got back to harbor. In the Dardanelles, when the “Messudieh” was sunk by a British submarine, the Admiralty’s propaganda machine went into overdrive about the sinking of a Turkish battleship. In fact, by 1915, the “Messudieh” had been relegated to coastal duties and was an old ship that simply could not have withstood a torpedo hit. The Admiralty made great play out of this event by a weapon that they had never shown great faith in. However, no one knew that submarines had yet to develop sufficient hitting power at the time and few were willing to take the risk.

The Admiralty was frequently at odds with politicians who saw the potential of submarines. Arthur Balfour and Winston Churchill were two senior politicians who backed the Submarine Service. However, by 1914, Balfour was effectively in the political wilderness when the war started as he had lost his position as head of the Conservative Party to Bonar-Law in 1911. During the war, he was First Lord of the Admiralty in 1915 and Foreign Secretary from 1916 to 1919. Winston Churchill suffered from the stigma attached to the overwhelming failure of his Gallipoli venture. However, he did use his clout to ensure that the Royal Navy got 20 E-class submarines that had to be built within nine months.

The one person in the Admiralty who saw the potential for submarines was John Fisher. As First Sea Lord, Fisher had introduced a number of major reforms into the Navy in 1905 and he had made enemies as a result. He had said that “submarines will be the battleships of the future”. Such a comment did not go down well with the majority at the Admiralty. Many men in the Admiralty had been huge supporters of the dreadnoughts and with vast sums of money spent on them, had to support them. They certainly could not support Fisher’s view regarding submarines. In 1909, Fisher had written of the Admiralty: “There is a great deal of truth in Haldane’s contention that the weak point in our national armor just now is not the material and personnel of the Navy but the Board of the Admiralty.”

The Submarine Service was well aware of the antipathy of the Admiralty towards them. There were made to feel outsiders in Britain’s Senior Service and that what they did was underhand.

“Our traditional naval conduct was of no avail. We went about feeling as though we were being kicked in the back without being able to retaliate.” Admiral Hall, ex-captain in the Submarine Service

Officers from surface ships referred to the Submarine Service as “The Trade”.

“Before the war it was a term of opprobrium coined by the pukka Navy to describe officers who looked more like plumbers’ assistants while on duty than spic-and-span Naval officers.” W. Carr “Hells Angels of the Deep.”

The relationship between surface fleet and submarines did not improve during the war. In fact, it arguably got worse. With the exception of Jutland, the surface fleets did not do a great deal in terms of fighting. What the hierarchy of the Navy wanted was another Trafalgar to show to the world the power of the British Navy. It never got one. In fact, the Royal Navy was doing a devastating job by blockading the German navy in the harbor and strangling Germany’s sea Bourne trade. But such an achievement did not have clout and it did not fit in with the romantic image of the all-conquering British sailor. However, the media did latch onto the heroics of the Submarine Service which won two Victoria Crosses during the war. The media made out the submarine crews to be heroes (which they undoubtedly were) but this did even more to rile those officers in the surface fleets.

The USA Naval Proceedings of 1917 contains an entry that aptly summarized the status of the Submarine Service held within the Royal Navy during the war:

“Rank has always been denied the submarine. Probably the worst feature of submarine service occurs when a submarine is obliged to go to a naval yard for an overhaul without its tender. The crew is assigned berths or billets on board the receiving ship and they immediately chaff under receiving ship’s discipline. The character of their work keeps them in dungarees all day. When they return to their receiving ship they feel the implied, though not always expressed, hostilities of petty officers and officers towards them for being dirty themselves and for dirtying decks and paintwork.” 

Even after the war, the Admiralty showed its hostilities to the Submarine Service. Its most famous submarine commander, Max Horton, had a face a naval committee in 1920 that investigated whether he had broken international law in the Baltic during the war. In fact, not one noncombatant had lost their lives in the Baltic in the war but this seemed to have by-passed the Admiralty. Horton was a national hero who had pushed into the limelight the Submarine Service and gained media attention. This was probably his ‘crime’.

As early as 1904, Admiral John Fisher had written: “The submarine will prevent any fleet remaining at sea continuously….it is astounding to me how the very best amongst us fail to recognize the vast impending revolution in naval warfare and naval strategy that the submarine will accomplish.”

Churchill as Lord of the Admiralty has to take the ultimate responsibility. But, it would be more appropriate to blame the First Sea Lord, as operationally responsible, even though of course Churchill as First Lord often interfered!

The first sea lord was Prince Louis of Battenberg, appointed on December 8 1912. He was replaced on October 30, 1914, by Admiral Sir John Fisher. Despite lengthy searches, I cannot find any reference to who actually set this in motion.

That said, ‘someone’ conceived the idea, then told ‘someone’ else-presumably a superior officer. From here a draft plan was prepared then submitted to the first sea lord and/or the admiralty, who progressed it. By now, the rust-bucket ships were selected, crewed by reservists and youths; all non-service personnel. No doubt considered expendable. With experienced servicemen to hold it all together. Remember that the Royal Navy was the biggest worldwide. That does not mean it was the best.

In the aftermath, patrols by armored cruisers were abandoned, all major ships were ordered to stay out of dangerous waters and all ships were under orders to steam at 13 knots and zigzag at all times while at sea. The engagement proved the submarine as a powerful offensive weapon and it altered the conduct of surface warships during the time of war forever.

A court of inquiry placed blame on all of the senior officers involved. Captain Drummond was criticized for not zigzagging, Admiral Christian was criticized for not giving Drummond the authority to call for destroyer escort, and Admiral Campbell was ostracized for not being present. Most of the blame was directed at the Admiralty for sending a patrol like that into harm’s way when the senior officers knew better.

Frederick Pennson Wells was my Grandfather. 1887 – 1914 He was a member of the Wells family. I have no photographs of Fred. All I knew was that he was killed in WW2. None of my family talked about it. I discovered what I now know when Amanda our eldest Grand-daughter asked where my middle name Pennson came from? as she wanted to name her first son’s middle name Pennson. Knowing he was a Royal Marine Sergeant, I googled his name, and The Live Bait Squadron appeared. He was not in that tragedy, the ship he was on was sunk a few months later. It was the good offices of Historians at Portsmouth who told me his name was inscribed on the huge memorial on The Great Lines, between Chatham and Gillingham in Kent. I walked past this hundreds of times whilst living there and never knew it.

Frederick was born on ca. 1887 in the United Kingdom. Frederick died on October 15, 1914, at 27 years old.

Live Bait Squadron background.

Dutch highlight WW1 Royal Navy tragedy  facts which earned them the tag ‘the live bait squadron‘ within the rest of the Grand Fleet.  The whole action lasted only 90 minutes, but cost the lives of 62 officers and 1,397 men. Most of the e men were reservists and youths. The youngest was 14.

And nearly a century on from the loss of the cruisers Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy, Dutch author Henk van der Linden is hoping to trace families of the 1,459 lost on one terrible morning for the Senior Service.

The three cruisers were on patrol in September 1914 roughly 40 miles west of Den Helder, providing a shield for the transport of men and material to the British Expeditionary Force on the fledgling Western Front.

All three ships were obsolete and heavily crewed by reservists and trainees – facts which earned them the tag ‘the live bait squadron’ within the rest of the Grand Fleet.

On September 22 1914 that label proved to be all too prophetic as HMS Aboukir was torpedoed by the German submarine U9, ordered to disrupt British shipping heading for Ostend.

Hogue and Cressy moved in to pick up survivors, convinced their sister had struck a mine. Instead, Hogue was torpedoed by U9 and sank in 15 minutes, while Cressy attempted to run down the German boat, missed, returned to pick up survivors and then felt victim herself to torpedoes from the same submarine.

The whole action lasted only 90 minutes, but cost the lives of 62 officers and 1,397 men. Just 837 sailors were rescued.

 

More than nine decades on Dutch WW1 enthusiast and former publisher Mr. van der Linden came across the graves of sailors from the Cressy buried in the small town of ’s-Gravenzande, near the Hook of Holland.

That chance finds prompted him to write the book Drie Massa graven voor de Nederlandse kust – Three Mass Graves off the Dutch Coast – the first account of the tragedy in the Netherlands.

That volume is now being translated into English and is due to be published next spring, with a launch at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

On paying a return visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at ’s-Gravenzande, Mr. van der Linden found the above ‘wreath basket’ memento left in honor – but all efforts to trace relatives of the victims or survivors have failed; the 7th Cruiser Squadron Foundation has certainly been disbanded more than 30 years.

The author believes families might be concentrated in the Chatham area, home of the squadron back in 1914.

“When the English translation of my book is presented, I would be very proud if some of them attend,” he said.

His book has sparked considerable interest in his native land – including TV interviews and an impending documentary. It has also helped raise awareness of the plight of the wrecks because there is growing concern in the Netherlands that the three cruisers are being plundered by salvagers.

The ships lie in international waters and, unlike several other Royal Navy vessels sunk in the North Sea during WW1 – notably those lost at Jutland – do not enjoy protected status under the Protection of Military Remains Act.

As a result, Dutch historians, mariners, and divers are petitioning for the trio to receive protected status under the Stop de Sloop campaign (stop the demolition)

 

A Dutch historian is hoping to trace the families of men involved in one of the Navy’s worst disasters of World War 1 – as his countrymen look to safeguard their graves.

More than 1,450 sailors were killed in just 90 minutes when the cruisers Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy were torpedoed in September 1914 off the Dutch coast by a German submarine.

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