Sunday 14 March 1915 – We Lost 768
A German offensive at St Eloi begins, which results in the capture of the village and part of the British front line system where the Cambridgeshire Regiment is in action. The Fifth London Territorial Brigade Royal Field Artillery lands in France.
HMS Glasgow and HMS Orama come into Cumberland in the Juan Fernandez Islands from the west, while HMS Kent comes in from the east at Mas a Tierra where Dresden is hiding. They discover the Dresden anchored 500 yards offshore. It has been a frustrating three month search for her, and Captain Luce is not about to concern himself with the niceties of international law, as no Chilean warship is present to enforce the neutrality rules. Admiralty instruction is “destruction not internment”. Luce gives orders to close to eight thousand yards and tells the gunnery officers to make certain that the buildings on shore are out of line of sight before they open fire, which they do at 08:50. The first two salvoes from Glasgow strike Dresden. The Kent opens fire two minutes later and also scores several hits. The Germans fire back, but they are heavily outgunned and in a hopeless position tactically, while at anchor. Within five minutes the Dresden has suffered so much damage that she hoists a white flag to avoid further casualties. Luce gives the order to cease fire. The Germans send a cutter across to the Glasgow under a flag of truce and Luce demands unconditional surrender or a resumption of fire will begin. These talks give the Germans enough time to plant timed explosives in the Dresden’s magazine and get her men ashore. The Chileans now send a boat to the Glasgow to protest the infringement of Chilean neutrality. They complain of damage done to civilian property by the British bombardment. Luce pays the governor 500 pounds in gold as compensation for any damage done ashore. At 10:45 two dull explosions are heard as the charges go off and a split second later a thunderous roar is heard as the Dresden’s magazine explodes. The British ships close to within a mile and watch as first she sinks very slowly, going down by the bows. Then more quickly she lists and sinks. Eight crewmen are killed and sixteen wounded on the Dresden during the brief but fierce bombardment. Because there is no hospital in the Juan Fernandez Islands, Luce offers to take the injured men to Valparaiso in the Orama without requiring them to be interned in either neutral territories or in prisoner of war camps. The offer is gratefully accepted.
Today’s losses include:
- A musician and well-known composer
- Grandson of a veteran of the Charge of the Light Brigade
- A man whose uncle lost his life as a result of South African War service
- A Rear Admiral
- Multiple families that will lose another son in the Great War
- The grandson of a Victoria Cross winner
- Grandson of a General
- Grandson of a Baronet
- The former Secretary to the United States Ambassador to London
- The husband of the granddaughter of former United States Secretary of State Hamilton Fish
- The father of a man killed on service in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1943
- An amateur wrestling champion
- Son of a man who will lose his life on service in September 1917
Today’s highlighted casualties are
Lieutenant William Gray Rawlinson (Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry) is killed in action in Belgium at age 24. He is a musician and well-known composer and reputed to be a fine shot and polo player. He comes from a family with a military history one ancestor having fought at Marston Moor in 1644 his grandfather served throughout the Crimean War and took part in the Charge of the Light Brigade. His uncle died in 1913 as a direct result of having served in the South African War.
- Rear Admiral William John Grogan (Royal Navy) dies as the result of an accident at home.
- Captain and Adjutant Thomas Joseph Fitzherbert-Brockholes (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 27. His brother will be killed in the Royal Navy in July 1919 and they are grandsons of Major General the Honorable ‘Sir’ Henry Hugh Clifford VC.
- Captain William Ulick Middleton Campbell (Highland Light Infantry) is killed in action at age 29. He is the son of the Honorable William Campbell.
- Captain Cyril Gerald Valerian Wellesley (Lincolnshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 35. His brother in law died of wounds in August of last year.
- Lieutenant Harry Spencer Hall (Royal Army Medical Corps) dies at home at age 35. His cousin Lieutenant Arthur Douglas Knapp will be killed in May 1917.
- Lieutenant Herbert Wickstead Ethelston (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 33. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ Hugh Williams 3rd
- Second Lieutenant William Lawrence Breese (Royal Horse Guards) is killed at age 32. He is the former Secretary to Ambassador Page in London and is married to the granddaughter of former United States Secretary of State to President Ulysses S Grant, Hamilton Fish. At the outbreak of the Great War he returned to England, and in order to accomplish his desire to serve with the British Forces to become a naturalized citizen.
- Sergeant Henry Martin Oliver (Dorsetshire Regiment) is killed at Ypres at age 27. His brother will be killed in November of this year.
- Corporal Percy Austin (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 32. He is the first of three brothers who will be killed in the Great War.
- Rifleman Harry Elderfield (Rifle Brigade) is killed in action at age 20. His brother was killed last month.
- Private Bertram Carnac Yates (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 26. His brother was killed on HMS Aboukir in September of last year.
- Rifleman Leonard John Ahern (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 24. His brother was killed last September.
- Private John Henry Wren (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in July 1916.
- Private Sidney James Stimpson (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in August 1916.
- Private William Sharp (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in August 1916.
- Private James Alexander Golding (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 34. His son will be killed serving in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in December 1943.
- Private Edwin Harry Coates (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 23. He is an amateur wrestling champion. His father will volunteer shortly after his son’s death and die on service in September 1917.