Thursday 19 October 1916 – We Lost 507

Alexander Young VC

Alexander Young VC

The Cunard liner Alaunia strikes a mine two miles off the Royal Sovereign Lightship, Sussex.  Despite attempts to beach the ship and tow it to shore with tugs the captain finally orders the ship to be abandoned.  All passengers and one hundred sixty-three of its crew reach safety and the ship sinks soon afterwards.  Two of the crew, a steward and a trimmer, die.

Today’s losses include:

  • Two Victoria Cross holders including one which was awarded in the South African War
  • A battalion commander
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • A military Chaplain
  • The son of a member of the clergy
  • A Forfar East and North End footballer
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Temporary Lieutenant Colonel Charles Joseph Wilkie (commanding 17th Welsh Regiment) is killed at age 48.
  • Major Harry Woodhead (South African Infantry) is killed in action at age 30. He is the only son of Colonel Henry Woodhead CMG VD JP.
  • Chaplain William Taylor dies on active service at home.
  • Lieutenant George Francis Edward Boyd (Seaforth Highlanders) is killed in action at age 19. He is the son of the Reverend James Boyd.
  • Lieutenant Alexander Young VC (South African Infantry) is killed at age 44. He was awarded the Victoria Cross on 13th August 1901 as a Sergeant Major towards the close of the action at Ruiter’s Kraal when with a handful of men he rushed some kopjes which were held by the Boers and then galloped on some 50 yards ahead of his party and shot one of them and captured Commandant Erasmus, the latter firing at him three times at point blank range before being taken prisoner.
  • Second Lieutenant Denis Ives Backlake (Somerset Light Infantry) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed next May.
  • Sergeant Leo Clarke VC (Eastern Ontario Regiment) dies of wounds received eight days previously. He will be awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for actions performed last month.
  • Private James Clark (Black Watch) is killed in action at age 22. He played football for the Forfar East and North End Clubs.
  • Private Robert Drummond Parker (Black Watch) dies of wounds at age 20. His brother died of meningitis in June 1915.
  • Private Ernest Alfred Wren (Machine Gun Corps) dies of wounds at age 20. His brother will die at home next May.
  • Private Walter Black (Sherwood Foresters) dies of heart failure at age 21 during an operation at home to amputate his right arm due to wounds. His brother will be killed in October 1918.