Thursday 2 September 1915 – We Lost 253
A proposal is made to the War Office for the formation of a single machine gun company per Brigade by withdrawing the guns from the Battalions.
During the night over Cuffley, Hertfordshire, Lieutenant William Leefe Robinson (Royal Flying Corps) flying a converted BE2c night fighter, sights a German airship – one of 16 which had left bases in Germany on a mass raid over England. The airship is the wooden-framed Schütte-Lanz SL11. Robinson makes an attack at an altitude of 11,500 ft approaching from below and, closing to within 500 ft, rakes the airship with machine-gun bullets. As he is preparing for another attack, it bursts into flames and crashes in a field behind the Plough Inn at Cuffley, killing the crew of 16. Lieutenant Robinson will be captured in his first flight as commanding officer 48 Squadron and will die in the 1918 influenza pandemic after being released from a prisoner of war camp.
The transport Southland is torpedoed by UB-14 in the Mediterranean Sea. When the torpedo strikes the vessel the order is given to abandon the ship. There was never a cry or sign of fear. The Australian soldiers merely came briskly on deck singing ‘Australia will be there.’ The troops all go to their stations and lower the boats in an orderly manner. The subalterns search the interior of the ship for wounded and finally come on deck to find only the general staff on board. They help to lower the last boats and get into a half swamped one. Fourteen persons are killed by the explosion and twenty two are drowned including Brigadier General Linton. Colonel (Acting Brigadier General) Richard Linton (commanding 6th Australian Infantry Brigade Headquarters) dies of exhaustion and heart failure at sea on the French destroyer Massuo at age 54. The ship is beached, repaired, and returns to service in August 1916. While in service between the United Kingdom and Canada in April 1917, Southland will torpedoed a second time, this time by U-70; she will be sunk off the coast of Ireland with the loss of four lives.
Today’s losses include:
- The son and brother of the men who will be awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics in two months
- A Brigadier General
- The son of a Major General
- A Battalion commander
- The son of a member of the clergy
- Two families that will lose another two sons in the Great War
- Multiple families that will have another son lost in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties are:
- Lieutenant Colonel Colin Campbell Renton (commanding 98th Indian Infantry) is accidentally killed in Africa at age 48. He is the son of Major General Robert Renton.
- Second Lieutenant Robert Charles Bragg (Royal Field Artillery) dies of wounds on Gallipoli at age 22. He is the son of ‘Sir’ William and Lady Bragg. In two months his father and brother will share the Nobel Prize for Physics, his brother being the youngest winner ever of the physics award.
- Corporal John Campbell (Gordon Highlanders) is killed at age 29. His brother was killed in February.
- Private Maurice Tennant Carre (Australian Infantry) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 31. His brothers will be killed in October 1916 and November 1917. They are sons of the Reverend Arthur Augustus Carre Rector of Smarden.
- Private Thomas William Riley (Essex Regiment) dies of wounds on Malta received at Gallipoli at age 19. He is the first of three brothers who will be killed in the Great War.
- Sapper Harry Kitchen (Royal Engineers) dies of wounds on Malta at age 22. His brother will be killed in October 1918.