Friday 11 February 1916 – We Lost 208
The cruiser HMS Arethusa strikes a mine and is sunk in the North Sea approaching Harwich. It is while returning from the abortive sweep to look for German High Seas Fleet that the light cruiser is lost. She is steaming at 20 knots and has just entered the Sledway Channel when she strikes a mine which has been laid by UC-7 the previous evening. The explosion occurs under the machinery spaces and she loses power and begins to settle. The destroyers Lightfoot and Loyal try to take her in tow but on each occasion the tow rope parts. Eventually Arethusa drifts on to the Cutler Shoal and breaks in half. Six men are killed in the explosion and another two drown when their Carlet float overturns. Commander Tyrwhitt is the last to leave the ship, having remained to look for his cat. After Tyrwhitt’s boat has pushed off a bearded figure is seen to rush on to the quarterdeck. This is a stoker who has not only slept through the explosion but slept on through the subsequent activity! Trapped below he has clambered up the inside of the after funnel and then out on to the quarterdeck. The next day salvage of papers and portable items will be carried out since the cruiser’s upper works are still above the water. However, wind and tide slowly bury the ship in the sandbank where she lays to this day. There are two hundred seventy-two survivors.
- Engine Room Artificer 2nd Class James Thomas Andrew Taylor is among those killed. His wife is waiting at the dock when she hears the explosion. She was going to tell him that she is pregnant with their first child.
Hostile Arabs occupy Baharia Oasis, two hundred miles southwest of Cairo.
In an incident similar to one on 23rd December last year a catapult fails to act properly with the result that bomb is thrown only a short distance and falls close to a party of men under instruction. Corporal Percy Fairborn Annis (Central Canadian Infantry) at once runs out to pick up the bomb which explodes just as he reaches it. He will suffer blindness for two weeks as a result of his wounds. For these two actions Annis will be awarded the Albert Medal.
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain Bernard Philip Nevile (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at age 27. He is a first class cricketer for Worcestershire who also played for and captained Lincolnshire in the Minor Counties Championship. His brother was killed in August 1915 Gallipoli.