Saturday 23 January 1915 – We Lost 100
Two pilots Richard Bell Davies and Richard Peirse from Royal Naval Air Service each drop eight bombs from a low altitude on a German submarine lying alongside the Mole at Zeebrugge. Davies, severely wounded at the start of his attack with a bullet in his thigh, carries on despite loss of blood and extreme pain. For his bravery he is awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
During this evening followers of John Chilembwe, a mission-educated African, attack an estate in Nyasaland (Malawi) belonging to Livingstone Bruce, a grandson of Dr David Livingstone. Living in the houses on the estate are three men, three women, and five children. The three men are killed, one being decapitated by an axe in the presence of his wife; the women and children are carried off. One of the women escapes. Barefoot and in her night-dress, aided by her African servant, she flees through the bush to a neighboring planter, who sounds the alarm. A double company of the King’s African Rifles is dispatched to the scene, marching eighty-seven miles in forty seven hours, but is forestalled by forty British volunteers and 100 King’s African Rifles recruits under Captain L E Triscott, who have rescued the women and children. In one small township that is attacked by Chilembwe’s followers, a wounded German lieutenant is being held prisoner. The War is for a time forgotten as the lieutenant assumes military command and organizes the town’s defenses.
Through intercepted German radio traffic the British learn of Admiral Hipper’s plan to raid the British coast on the following day.
Royal Flying Corps reconnaissance aircraft give warning that Turkish troops are preparing for an attack on the Suez Canal. The subsequent offensive in early February will be easily defeated.
Today’s losses include:
- Father and son killed together
- Two families that will lose two sons in the Great War
- A battalion commander
Today’s highlighted casualty is
The fishing trawler Labrador (Skipper Stephen George Peek age 42) is sunk by a mine. Her crew of eight including her skipper and his 17 year old son are killed.
- Lieutenant Colonel George Julian Ryan DSO (commanding 2nd Munster Fusiliers) is killed at age 36. He is a veteran of the Sudan campaign and South African War.
- Private Ernest Hill (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in September.
- Private James Curtis (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother was killed in October 1914.