Tuesday 21 November 1916 – We Lost 418
On a perfect Tuesday HMHS Britannic is steaming through the Kea Channel in the Aegean Sea. Shortly after 08:00 she strikes a mine with a resulting tremendous explosion and quickly begins to sink by the bow. Captain Charles A Barlett tries unsuccessfully to beach her on Kea Island but as it begins to settle he orders the ship abandoned and in fifty-five minutes, Britain’s largest liner is gone, four miles west of Port St Nikolo. The survivors are picked up by the escorting destroyers Foxhound and Scourge and the armed merchant cruiser Heroic. Two of the survivors had also survived the sinking of RMS Titanic. The explosion apparently occurred in the watertight bulkhead between holds 2 and 3, and the bulkhead separating holds 2 and 1 was also damaged. Her Captain is the last to leave the ship and only 28 people die of the 1,106 on board at the time. Most of these deaths occur as the ship remains under way when two lifeboats are launched prematurely and are sucked into the still turning propellers.
- Captain John Cropper JP (Royal Army Medical Corps) drowns. His son Thomas Andrew Cropper will be killed in April 1918.
Today’s losses include:
- A man whose son will be killed in April 1918
- A military Chaplain
- The Grenadier Guards Regimental boxing champion
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
- A Justice of the Peace
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Roman Catholic Chaplain the Reverend Dom Michael Guthrie (attached East Lancashire Regiment) dies of wounds.
- Lance Corporal Arthur R Kings (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 22. He is the Regimental boxing champion.
- Private John Trower (Middlesex Regiment) is killed in action at age 33. His brother will die of pneumonia in October 1918.
- Private Edward Arnold Frederick Allen (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 22. His brother will be killed in March 1918.