Monday 5 February 1917 – We Lost 428
The Grand Fleet Aircraft Committee reports that forty aircraft are needed. Currently on twenty-four are housed in three carriers.
A serious explosion followed by a fire, occurs on the French troopship St. Laurent at Malta. After some time it is observed that three men in the forepart of the ship, where the flames are fiercest, are cut off from the rest. None of the boats near will approach the ship owing to the heat and danger of a further explosion until Acting Quartermaster-Sergeant James Brown (Royal Army Medical Corps) persuades a Maltese Policeman to row him out. When within thirty yards of the ship the policeman refuses to go further. Brown returns, and is then joined by Sergeant William Seymour (Northumberland Fusiliers), Private Arthur Allan (Royal Army Medical Corps) and Private James Cuthbertson (Royal Army Medical Corps). They row directly to the forepart of the ship, the sides of which are by this time red hot, while the plates are falling into the sea. When they are within a few yards of the ship two of the three men in the forepart jump into the sea and are rescued while the third has climbed up the mast and is saved later when the mast falls. All four of these soldiers are awarded the Albert Medal for their efforts.
The British General Staff estimates that no more than 250,000 American soldiers could be in Europe even after a year.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple sons of member of the clergy
- The son of a Surgeon General and Justice of the Peace
- Two Australian Rules footballers
- A Bedfordshire Constable
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Tom Pearce Griffith Stone (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in Mesopotamia at age 24. He is the son of the Reverend Thomas Stone Vicar of Barrow-on-Soar.
- Lieutenant Arthur Idwal Humphreys (Howe Battalion Royal Naval Division, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) is killed in action at age 24. He is the son of the Reverend William E Humphreys, was educated at Edinburgh and Durham Universities and also served at Gallipoli from September 1915 until the evacuation.
- Second Lieutenant J H W Stevenson (Punjabis) dies of wounds in Mesopotamia at age 19. He is the son of Surgeon General H W Stevenson IMS CSI JP.
- Lance Sergeant Gerald Patrick Ryan (Australian Infantry) an Australian Rules Footballer dies of head injuries he suffers after falling on ice in England at age 29. He scored 3 goals in the 18 games he played for Essendon in 1906 & 1909.
- Lance Corporal James Norman (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 25 four days after his fellow officer in the Bedfordshire Constabulary Henry Gordon was killed in the Grenadier Guards and less than two weeks prior to Constable Charles Pedley being killed in the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
- Private Hugh Anthony Callan (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 35. He is another Australian rules footballer who played for Essendon and South Melbourne in the Victorian Football League. Callan acted as a follower during his career, which began at Essendon in 1903 after he was recruited from Brighton. He spent three seasons with Essendon and in 1906 didn’t play VFL football as he was in New Zealand on business. Callan returned the following year and joined South Melbourne, playing as a forward pocket in their losing 1907 VFL Grand Final team. In New Zealand, Callan played for the Eden Football Club in the Australian Football League of Auckland during the 1906 season. Also in that year, he represented Auckland in an interprovincial match against Waihi. In his career he scored 32 goals in 71 games.