Great War Lives Lost

We died 100 years ago in the War to end all War

Thursday 13 December 1917 We Lost 484

The armed boarding cruiser Stephen Furness is sunk in the Irish Sea west of the Isle of Man by German submarine UB-64.  Six officers and 95 ranks are killed.

  • Assistant Stewart Richard Henry Buckett is among the dead. He had been awarded the DSM for his actions during the sinking of the Alcantar in February 1916.
  • Telegraphist Arthur Frederick Churchhouse is killed at age 19. His brother was killed last July.

The steamer Garthwaite (Master James Smith) is also sunk by a submarine four miles east of Whitby. Fourteen including the master are lost.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A woman will die on service whose brother will be killed next March

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Captain Herbert Mataher Spoor MC (Royal Army Medical Corps) is killed at age 45. He is the son of the Reverend Spoor.
  • Lieutenant Digby Guy Learoyd (Royal Engineers) is killed in Mesopotamia at agae 28. He is the son of the Reverend Digby Johnson Learoyd Rector of Debden.
  • Second Lieutenant Harold Wyse Allin (Shropshire Light Infantry) dies of wounds at El Arish Egypt at age 28. He is the son of the Reverend Alfred Thomas Allin.
  • Regimental Sergeant Major Walter Charles Grubby (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 35. His brother will be killed next August.
  • Chauffeuse Helen Maud Peel (Volunteer Aid Detachment British Red Cross Society) dies at home at age 22. Her brother will be killed in action the following March.

Wednesday 12 December 1917 We Lost 569

Crewmen of HMS Partridge

HMS Partridge (Lieutenant Commander Reginald Hugh Ransome killed at age 31) is sunk by German destroyers in the North Sea while escorting a convoy of 6 merchant ships from Lerwick to Norway.  The other escort ship HMS Pellew (Lieutenant Commander J R Cavendish) escapes while all the merchant ships are sunk. Seventy-four of the crewmen are killed on HMS Partridge including

  • Lieutenant Lancelot John Barrington Walters age 22 son of the Reverend Charles Barrington Walters Rector of Sywell while Pellew suffer four fatalities before escaping.
  • Officers Steward 2nd Class William Spedding is lost at age 22. His brother was killed when HMS Hampshire struck a mine in June 1916.

Steam Trawler Amadavat (Skipper Robert Scarborough) is sunk by a mine east of the Shetlands. Her entire crew of nine is killed.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
  • A battery commander
  • A battalion commander
  • A military chaplain

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Charles Gordon DSO (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 26.
  • Major (Temporary Lieutenant Colonel) Percy Balfour DSO (Bedfordshire Regiment commanding 2nd/7th Worcestershire Regiment) is killed at age 42.
  • Lieutenant Horace Frost Marris MC (Royal Engineers) dies of wounds received ten days earlier at age 27. He is the son of the Reverend Charles Colquhous Marris Vicar of Habrough.
  • Chaplain David Howell Griffith dies at home. Petty Officer Harry Howling Neiass (HMS Defiance) dies at home of illness at age 31. His brother will die on service next September.
  • Corporal Walter Reginald Hart (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 26. His two brothers will be killed next year.
  • Private Edgar Biggerstaff Gibbs (Royal West Kent Regiment) dies on service in India at age 34. His brother was killed in September 1915.

Tuesday 11 December 1917 We Lost 440

Walter Mills VC

General Edmund Allenby enters the city of Jerusalem, on foot, followed by the representatives of France and Italy.

After an intense gas attack at Givenchy a strong enemy patrol tries to rush British posts, the garrisons of which have been overcome. Private Walter Mills (Manchester Regiment) although badly gassed himself, meets the attack single-handed and continues to throw bombs until the arrival of reinforcements and remains at his post until the enemy have been finally driven off. While being carried away he dies of gas poisoning but it is entirely due to him that the enemy is defeated and the line remained intact. For his actions on this day he will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Today’s losses include:

  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Private John Thorpe (South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 39. His brother died on service in July 1916.
  • Private Francis Merryweather (Norfolk Regiment) dies of wounds received in action at age 26. He is one of three brothers who will lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Private Colin Burchett (Middlesex Regiment) is killed in action at age 24 becoming the middle of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.

Monday 10 December 1917 We Lost 419

Cap badge of the Royal Naval Reserve

British troops capture German outposts near Boursies, Cambrai.

Lloyd George speaks to the House of Commons to announce the capture of Jerusalem.

The first postmark slogan is stamped on envelopes in Britain it states “Buy British War Bonds Now”.

The fishing trawler Amadavat (Skipper Robert Scarborough Royal Naval Reserve)  is mined and sunk off the Shetlands killing eleven including her Skipper and his son Deck Hand Benjamin Oman Scarborough age 16. The schooner Lizzie M Stanley (Master John Collier) leaves port and is never seen again. She carries a crew of six including her Mater and the lost include brothers Morgan and Thomas (age 20) Buffett (Newfoundland Mercantile Marine)

Today’s losses include:

  • A father and son killed together
  • Brothers killed together
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Second Lieutenant Andrew B Sinclair (Seaforth Highlanders) is killed in action at age 22. His brother was killed in May 1915 in the explosion of HMS Princess Irene.

Sunday 9 December 1917 We Lost 420

John Monckton Case

At 07:00 the last Turkish troops retreat out of Jerusalem and four centuries of Turkish rule come to an end. The mayor of Jerusalem comes to the British lines with the Turkish governor’s letter of surrender and the city is occupied.

The convoy escort HM armed trawler Ben Lawer sinks the German submarine UB-18 in the English Channel.

Today’s losses include:

  • The son of a member of the clergy
  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Lieutenant John Monckton Case (Canadian Engineers) dies on service at home. He is the son of the Reverend F Case.
  • Private Laurence B Sutherland (Seaforth Highlanders) is killed in action at age 19 at Cambrai. His brother was killed in September 1916.
  • Private Alex Y Sutherland (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) dies of wounds received in action at age 34. His brother was killed in October 1916.
  • Private William Chestney (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 35 becoming the last of three brothers to lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Rifleman Frank Page (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 19. His brother will die of wounds next June.
  • Private Ernest Cyril Groves (London Regiment) is killed in Palestine. His brother was killed in October 1916.

Saturday 8 December 1917 We Lost 561

Stephanus Sebastian Lombard Steyn

Allenby sends the 20th Corps for a final assault on Jerusalem.

After days of severe fighting, the 53rd (Welsh) Division on the south and the 60th (London) and 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions on the west, finish the capture of all the prepared defenses of Jerusalem.

Today’s losses include:

  • A man whose daughter will be born next July
  • A Rhodes Scholar and Scottish Rugby International
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • The son of a member of the clergy

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Major S S Crisp (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action in Italy at age 31. His daughter will be born 17th July 1918.
  • Lieutenant Stephanus Sebastian Lombard Steyn (Royal Field Artillery) a Rhodes Scholar is killed at age 28 in Palestine. He is also a Scottish Rugby International.
  • Second Lieutenant Alan Mansell Alexander (London Regiment) is killed in Palestine at age 21 by machine gun fire. His brother was killed in July 1916.
  • Second Lieutenant Eric Hand Thomas (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother will be killed next April and they are sons of the Reverend Llewellyn Wyn Thomas Vicar of Newland.
  • Second Lieutenant Frederick Holland Vicat (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed in September 1914.

Friday 7 December 1917 We Lost 461

Raymond Douglas Belcher

By today all the British gains are abandoned except for a portion of the Hindenburg line around Havrincourt, Ribécourt and Flesquières.

The steamship S S Earl of Elgin (Master James Leslie) is sunk by a submarine 10 miles west from the Carnarvon bay Light Vessel. Her master is among the 188 killed in the attack.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
  • The son of a member of the clergy
  • A man whose twin will be killed next October
  • A local footballer

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Major Raymond Douglas Belcher DSO MC (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 34. His is the son of the Reverend Thomas Hayes Hayes Belcher Rector of Bramley and is the last of three sons of his to be killed in the Great War.
  • Lieutenant Christopher Morse (Royal Engineers is killed in action at age 26. His twin brother will be killed in October 1918.
  • Private Robert Prevett (Leicestershire Regiment) dies of wounds. He is an excellent local football player.
  • Private Albert Bower (Coldstream Guards) dies of wounds as a prisoner of war at age 29. His brother will die of influenza in December 1918.
  • Private George Benjamin Wright (Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry) dies of pneumonia as a prisoner of war in Bulgaria at age 21. His brother was killed on Gallipoli in August 1915.
  • Private Leslie Wallace Ayling (London Regiment) is killed at age 24. His brother was killed exactly six months earlier.

Thursday 6 December 1917 We Lost 671

James Samuel Emerson VC

The Norwegian ship S S Imo is steaming alone exiting Halifax, Nova Scotia harbor and has ‘Belgium Relief’ written on her sides to emphasize her ‘neutrality’ to U-boats, as she is on her way to New York to load relief supplies for Belgium.  The Imo is behind schedule because she had to wait for coal, with this and being empty, she may have been traveling at a faster speed than normal when she leaves the inner harbor.

The French ship S S Mont Blanc ss inbound from New York where she had been loaded with a dangerous mixture of explosives and volatile material. The ship had her holds lined with wood, using non-sparking copper nails, but too many volatile cargoes have been mixed aboard.  The Mont Blanc enters Halifax harabour with two thousand three hundred tons of wet and dry picric acid; (used for making lyddite for artillery shells), two tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT), ten tons of gun cotton, with drums of Bezol (High Octane fuel); stacked on her decks.  The Mont Blanc is on her way to the inner harbor, but arrives too late to be let through the submarine nets, and has to wait from the previous evening to enter the harbor.

This morning the Imo weighs anchor and heads for the sea, while the Mont Blanc enters the harbor and they collide in the bottleneck known as ‘the Narrows’.  Some of the Benzol drums break loose, spill on the deck, and soon catch fire.  The intensity of the fire and its volatile cargo leads the Captain of the Mont Blanc to order all hands to abandon ship.  The Mont Blanc on fire drifts towards Halifax where she rests against pier 6.

The Captain of HMS Highflyer, which is about a mile away, at once sends off a boat to see if anything can be done to prevent loss of life, and Commander Thomas Kenneth Triggs, volunteering for this duty, immediately gets into the ship’s whaler and pulls to the scene.  A tug and the steamboat of H.M.C.S. Niobe are seen going there at the same time.  Commander Triggs boards the tug, and finding it was impossible to do anything for the Mont Blanc, decides to endeavour to get the Imo away, giving directions accordingly to the tug.  He returns to the whaler, and is pulling towards the bows of the Imo, which is about 300 yards from the Mont Blanc, to pass a line from her to the tug, when at approximately 09:05 a tremendous explosion occurs.

The Mont Blanc has blown up, the entire ship disintegrating. The pressure of the blast flattens the immediate area for two square kilometers wiping out the suburb of Richmond, killing 1,600 people, injuring 8,000 and destroying 3,000 dwellings; 2,000 more persons are listed as missing and the total damages are estimated to be more that  $30 million.  This is followed by a pressure wave that washes up the shore and rocks the ships nearby.  Some smaller vessels such as tugs are overwhelmed and sink.

Eight crewmen of HMS Highflyer are killed including Commander Triggs.    Able Seaman William Becker is rescued alive on the Dartmouth shore, where he had swum after the explosion while the remaining members of the Highflyer’s party all perished.  It is clear that after communication with the tug Commander Triggs and the rest of the boat’s crew were fully aware of the desperate nature of the work they were engaged in and that by their devotion to duty they sacrificed their lives in the endeavour to save the lives of others.  Commander Triggs and Seaman Becker will be awarded the Albert Medal for their efforts.  The others were not recognized with this award but deserve mention. They are Able Seaman James Dowling, Engine Room Artificer Robert Jones, Stoker Francis Kelly, Able Seaman Joseph Murphy, Able Seaman Samuel D Prewer, Stoker Edwin B Rogers, Lieutenant James R Ruffles, and Leading Seaman Claude E Rushen.  Commander Triggs brother will die on service at home in Canada in September of next year.

The Commanding Officer of H.M.C.S. Niobe, which was lying in the harbour, on perceiving what has happened, sends away a steam-boat to see what can be done. Boatswain Albert Charles Mattison (Royal Canadian Navy) and Petty Officer Stoker Ernest Edmund Beard (Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve) and five men of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve volunteer to form the crew of this boat, but just as the boat gets alongside the “Mont Blanc” the ship blew up, and Mattison and Beard and the entire boat’s crew lose their lives. The boat’s crewmen are fully aware of the desperate nature of the work they are engaged on, and by their gallantry and devotion to duty they sacrificed their lives in the endeavour to save the lives of others. Among the dead are two crewmen of HMCS Niobe, who will be awarded the Albert Medal for their efforts on this day.  Petty Officer Stoker Ernest Edmund Beard is killed at age 30, while Boatswain Mattison is killed at age 44.  Both men will be awarded the Albert Medal Posthumously.

The tug Musquash is seen to be on fire forward. The fire is increasing, and there appears to be a great danger of her getting adrift, and being carried down on to another vessel. As the Musquash has a gun and ammunition on board there is danger of a further explosion and consequent loss of life.  The Captain of Highflyer hails a private tug and asks her to take the Musquash in tow, but as they were unwilling to board the Musquash to get her in tow, the tug is brought alongside Highflyer. Leading Seaman Thomas Davis and Able Seaman Roberts Stones immediately volunteer, and having been transferred by the tug to the burning Musquash, which has by this time broken adrift, they secure a line from her stern, by means of which she is towed into midstream. The line is then parted, and Davis and Stones pass another line from the Musquash to the pumping lighter Lee, which haa now arrived.  They then go forward to the burning section, and succeed in getting to the ammunition, which is by this time badly scorched, pull it away from the flames and throw it overboard.  They then break open the door of the galley, which is on fire inside, to enable the Lee to play her hoses into it. They repeat the same thing with the cabin.  For their efforts both men will be awarded the Albert Medal.

A train dispatcher Vincent Coleman for the Intercolonial Railway of Canada is on duty controlling trains on the rail line which ran along the western shore of Bedford Basin.  He sends out a message stating “Munitions ships on fire.  Making for Pier 6, Goodbye” and as a result trains heading to the docks stop well short of the terminal no doubt saving many lives.  Coleman is killed in the explosion.

Captain John Foster Chisholm (Royal Naval Air Service) carries out a photographic reconnaissance in the vicinity of Zeebrugge, and for the great skill and determination with which he carries out his duties at all times he will be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Flight Commander Rupert Randolph Winter achieves his fourth victory on the way to becoming a five-victory ace.

Second Lieutenant James Samuel Emerson (Inniskilling Fusiliers) leads his company in an attack and clears 400 yards of trench. Though wounded, when the enemy attacked in superior numbers, he springs out of the trench with eight men and meets the attack in the open, killing many and taking six prisoners. For three hours after this, all other officers having become casualties, he remains with his company, refusing to go to the dressing station, and repeatedly repels bombing attacks. Later, when the enemy again attacks in superior numbers, he leads his men to repel the attack and is mortally wounded. His heroism, when worn out and exhausted from loss of blood, inspired his men to hold out, though almost surrounded, till reinforcements arrive and dislodge the enemy. For his actions the 22 year old will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

The destroyer USS Jacob Jones is sunk by German torpedo and the British sloop-of-war Camellia and British liner Catalina conduct rescue operations. By 08:30 the following morning HMS Insolent has picked up the last survivors of Jacob Jones.

Today’s losses include:

  • Multiple Albert Medal winners
  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • The son of a member of the clergy
  • A 10-victory ace
  • The son of an Alderman and Justice of the Peace
  • A Sunday school teacher and Scout Master
  • Multiple families that will lose two son the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Captain Francis Eyton Spurling (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 32. He is the son of the Reverend Canon Frederick William Spurling.
  • Lieutenant Russell Winnicott MC (Devonshire Regiment attached Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed at age 19 at Cambrai. The 10-victory ace is the son of Alderman Richard Weeks Winnicott JP.
  • Second Lieutenant William Henry Achurch (Warwickshire Regiment) is killed at age 25. He was a Sunday school teacher and Scout Master.
  • Second Lieutenant Herbert Horace Jarrett (North Staffordshire Regiment) dies of wounds received two days prior at age 29. While overseeing the repair of some trenches that had been damaged by shell fire he was shot in the back by a sniper.  His mother and fiancée traveled to France but arrive at the hospital three hours after he has been buried and so are only able to pay their respects at this grave side.  His brother will be killed in August 1918.
  • Private Sydney Pearce Longfield (London Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother was killed in December 1915.
  • Private Thomas Golding (Veterinary Corps) is killed on Salonika at age 39. His brother was killed on Gallipoli in January 1916.
  • Private Walter Edworth (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) is killed at age 25. His brother was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
  • Private R J Wood (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 20. His brother was killed in October 1916.

Wednesday 5 December 1917 We Lost 660

Thomas Vicars Hunter

Two British air raids are carried out against Germany. The large railway junction and sidings at Zweibrucken and the works at Saarbrucken are bombed.

The armed steamship S S Aijburth (Master W B Geddes) is sunk by a submarine two miles northeast from South Cheek, Robin Hood Bay.  Eleven are killed including her master.

Today’s losses include:

  • A 5-victory ace who lose a leg in an accident two years ago
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • A family that will lose four sons
  • A Kersal Rugby footballer
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • A Queen’s Park footballer
  • A son of the 6th Marquess of Hertford

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Captain Thomas Vicars Hunter (Rifle Brigade attached Royal Flying Corps) a five-victory ace is killed in a flying accident in Italy at age 20. He is the son of the Honorable Mrs. Hunter and he lost a leg after an accident in 1915.
  • Lieutenant Cyril Gower Vincent Runnels-Moss (General List attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed in action. His brother will be killed in July 1918 and they are sons of the Reverend Arthur Runnels-Moss Vicar of St John’s Birmingham.
  • Lieutenant Vernon Radcliffe Stewart (Army Service Corps attached Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed at home at age 23. He is a member of the Kersal Rugby Club.
  • Second Lieutenant Frederick Thomas Avery Jones (Herefordshire Regiment) dies of wounds received in Cambrai on 30th November at age 34. He is the son of the Reverend Alexander George Jones Vicar of Yorkhill.
  • Second Lieutenant James Gilmour Wilson (Scots Fusiliers) is killed in action. He had played for the Kilwinning Rangers and Queen’s Park Football Clubs.
  • CSM Albert Arthur Giles (London Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother will be killed next April in Palestine.
  • Sergeant Charles A Sheppard (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 32. His brother was killed in May 1915.
  • Rifleman George T Stokes (London Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
  • Trooper ‘Lord’ Edward Beauchamp Seymour (Lord Strathcona’s Horse) dies of wounds received in action at age 38. He is the third son of the late 6th Marquess of Hertford.
  • Private Llewellyn Amon (Cambridgeshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 25. His brother was killed in November 1915.
  • Bombardier William Kerr (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 30. His brother was killed in September 1915.
  • Private Julian Anthony Christophers (Canterbury Regiment) is killed at age 33. He is one of four brothers who will lose their lives in the Great War.
  • Private John Swinburn (Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 31. His brother will be killed next April.

Husband and wife both on service

  • Arthur and Alice Ruth Armer
  • Reginald Noel and Mildred Constance Davis (She served and died with French Red Cross)
  • Henry Thomas and Mary Jane Flynn Gartside-Tipping