Wednesday 30 September 1914 – We Lost 53

The first British merchant ship, the Selby, to be torpedoed without warning is sunk by a German submarine thirty-four miles southeast by south from the Newarp Light Vessel. There are no casualties and at the time the loss is blamed on a mine.

HMS Chatham is near the small offshore East African island of Koma.  Her lookouts spot several white men in khaki uniforms carrying rifles, accompanied by a group of armed natives.  Drury-Lowe turns in toward land and anchors his ship. A few rounds from the cruisers three-pound guns cause a general panic on shore and most flee into the bush. An armed landing party goes ashore without meeting any opposition. They destroy wireless masts and a signaling station and capture several dhows and catamarans being used to supply the German defenders.  They also find one German who has not run away.  He claims to be a planter, but his papers show him to be an army reserve officer recalled to active service to help with Konigsberg’s intelligence system. He is fortunate not to be shot as a spy.  Among the effects that are discovered is a diary that provides Drury-Lowe with two valuable pieces of information.  One entry gives the details of an elaborate signaling system based on the use of white flags. The British are incensed over this misuse of white flags to signal information to Konigsberg. Drury-Lowe immediately telegraphs the Governor of Dar es Salaam to inform him that in the future any white flag seen along the coast will be fired on without warning.  A second diary entry references the Konigsberg being anchored at a certain location, but the British officer doing the translation has great difficulty deciphering the German script.  All he can say for certain is that she is anchored at a place whose name is six letters long and might be Falalo, Galalo or Salalo. The British are unfamiliar with the obscure village of Salale where Konigsberg is hiding.  Drury-Lowe is now confident that his quarry has not left East Africa.

Today’s losses include:

  • Son of clergy
  • Son of a Justice of the Peace
  • A family that will lose another son later in the war


  • Flight Lieutenant Basil Drummond Ash (Royal Naval Air Service) is accidentally lost at sea at age 24.  He is the son of the Reverend Cyril Alfred Drummond Ash Vicar of Saxton and has been awarded the Naval General Service Medal for his previous service in the Persian Gulf.
  • Lieutenant Rowland Charles Mason (The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment) dies of wounds at home received 14 September at age 31. He is the son of the late Rowland Mason JP.
  • Lieutenant Aubrey Wells Hudson (Worcestershire Regiment) is killed at age 31. His brother will die of wounds in October 1916.
  • Private John Huartson (Lancaster Regiment) is killed when he is struck by a train while guarding the railway at Reading at age 25. His brother will be killed next April.