Friday 1 January 1915 – We lost 707
The Irish Guards open the New Year with their forward trenches being flooded and with the experimentation of a trench mortar. The mortar has the desired effect on a German digging party scattering them.
HMS Formidable (Captain Arthur Noel Loxley killed) is sunk when she is torpedoed by U-24 off Portland in the English Channel. Two torpedoes are fired, the first hits the starboard side and the second, fired about fifty minutes later, hits the port side. Formidable is part of the 5th Battle Squadron, which consists of eight battleships and two cruisers, and which at the time is steaming along the south coast of England in the Channel from the east. Captain Loxley, his second-in-command, Commander Charles Frederick Ballard, and the signaler remain at their posts throughout, sending flares and rockets off at regular intervals. There is no panic, the men waiting calmly for the lifeboats to be lowered. Someone plays ragtime on the piano, while others sing. Suddenly the ship gives a tremendous lurch, the Captain shouts ‘Lads, this is the last, all hands for themselves and may God bless you and guide you to safety’. He then walks to the fore bridge, lights a cigarette and, with his terrier Bruce at his side, waits for the end, in true Royal Naval tradition. There are five hundred forty-seven casualties and two hundred thirty-three survivors.
Losses on HMS Formidable include:
- A man whose son will be killed in he Second World War
- Son of a Baronet
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the war
- A family that will lose three sons
- Twin brothers killed together
- A Naval Chaplain
- A man whose sister will be killed at home during a Gotha air raid
- A holder of the Royal Humane Society’s Certificate for Life Saving
Those losses are
- Captain Loxley is the son of the Reverend Arthur Smart Loxley Vicar of Fairford who will lose two other sons in the Great War. His son will be killed en route to the Yalta Conference in February 1945 while in the Foreign Service.
- Commander Ballard the son in law of Admiral ‘Sir’ Cecil Burney, 1st Baronet is killed at age 25. Lieutenant Hugh Clifford Holled Coxe is killed at age 23. His two brothers will die in the Great War.
- Captain John Cyril Deed (Royal Marine Light Infantry) is killed at age 38. He is the son of the Reverend Canon John George Deed Vicar of Nuncaton.
- Lieutenant George Hugh Vans Hathorn (Royal Marine Light Infantry) is killed. Had he survived it is said the Admiralty would have expressed their appreciation for the good service rendered by him in the sinking. His brother will be killed in July 1916 in Mesopotamia.
- Midshipman John Slingsby is killed in the sinking. The 16-year old is the son of the Reverend Charles Slingsby.
- Fleet Paymaster Percy John Ling was the Colonial Secretary of Natal and the son-in-law of Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable David Erskine.
- Chief Petty Officer Walter Horton is killed at age 41 after serving in the Royal Navy for twenty-four years. His brother will die on service in Salonika in October 1916.
- Twin brothers John and Henri Villiers-Russell are killed at age 29 while serving as Senior Reserve Attendants on Formidable.
- Able Seaman Philip Moore is killed at age 29. His brother will be killed in March 1918.
- Senior Reserve Attendant James S Burnell is killed at age 33. His brother will be killed on the Western Front in October of this year.
- The Chaplain of Formidable the Reverend George Brooke Robinson is also killed by risking his life going below to find cigarettes. Leading Stoker Alfred Stephen Chapman is killed at age 29. His sister will be killed during a Gotha raid on Folkestone in May 1917.
- Bugler Stanley Christopher Reed (Royal Marines Light Infantry) is lost at age 16. He is a holder of the Royal Humane (Life Saving) Society’s Certificate.
HMS Fox sends the following wireless message to SMS Konigsberg. “A Happy New Year, expect to have the pleasure of seeing you soon, British cruiser”. To which Konigsberg replies. “Many thanks, same to you. If you want to see us we are always home, Konigsberg”.
Brigadier General Edmund Howard Lacam Gorges’ troops reach a crossroads only seven miles southwest of Dschang. Here he is joined by Lieutenant Colonel Edward Haywood’s column.
No. 10 Squadron Royal Flying Corps is formed at Farnborough, Hampshire from a nucleus supplied by No 1 Reserve Squadron.
Today’s losses also include:
- Grandson of the 2nd Viscount Gough
- An Army Chaplain
- Son of a member of the clergy
- First brother of a family that will lose another son in the war
Today’s highlighted casualty is
Chaplain George Leycester Ingles (attached Central Ontario Regiment) dies of spinal meningitis in England at age 28. He is the son of the Venerable Archdeacon Charles L Inglis.
- Captain Rodolph Algernon Persse (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 22.He is the grandson of the 2nd Viscount Gough of Goojerat.
- Second Lieutenant Cyril Edmund Parker (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed in action age 31. He is the son of ‘the Honorable’ Edmund William Parker.
- Rifleman Wilfred Francis Santler (London Regiment) is killed at age 17. His brother will be killed in June 1916 and they are the only Santlers to lose their lives in the service of King and Country during the Great War.