Wednesday 7 February 1917 – We Lost 442
The Anchor steamship California is torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine thirty-eight miles west by south from Fastnet. Most of the forty-three casualties are caused by the explosion and the ship sinks in seven minutes. Although the Captain goes down with the ship he is blown to the surface by an explosion and saved.
Today’s losses include:
- Two battalion commanders
- A man whose brother was killed in the South African War
- The son of an Admiral
- The grandson of an Admiral
- A former Aide de Camp to the Governor Generals of Australia and Canada
- Families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- The son of a member of the clergy
- The grandson of a Justice
- An actor
- A footballer
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Charles Patrick Boyle DSO (commanding 1st Honorable Artillery Company) is killed near Grandcourt at age 56. He is a veteran of the South Africa War where is brother was killed in April 1900 at Boshof. He is the grandson of Admiral Boyle.
- Lieutenant Colonel Alexander John Fife (Yorkshire Regiment attached Machine Gun Corps) dies from heart failure following pneumonia at age 36. His youngest son will die in three weeks. He joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in 1899 and served in the South African War with the Mounted Infantry being dangerously wounded. Later he becomes ADC to ‘Sir’ Reginald Talbot, Governor-General of Australia, and afterwards to Earl Grey in Canada. In September 1914 he is gazetted Major to the Yorkshire Regiment. In May of the following year he is in temporary command of the 2nd/5th Durham Light Infantry, and then No. 1 Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps at Grantham. In November 1916 he is in command of the Machine Gun Corps Base Depot in France.
- Major Wulstan Hubert O’Brien (Inland Water Transport Royal Engineers) is killed at age 33. His brother will be killed in July.
- Captain Terence Fuller Stokes (Punjabis) is killed in Mesopotamia at age 25. He is the son of the late ‘Sir’ Gabriel Stokes KCSI.
- Lieutenant Edward Vezian Ellis MC (Howe Battalion, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) is killed in action at age 32. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
- Second Lieutenant Mark Denman Draper (Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed in England at age 32. He is the son of the Reverend W H Draper and grandson of Mr. Justice Denman. He is an actor and one of three brothers who will be killed in the war. His initial experience is with ‘Sir” Frank Benson when he toured in repertory and was later in management for seven years.
- Sergeant William Sproule Bolton (Royal Fusiliers) dies at home of septic pneumonia at age 34.
- Corporal Frank Hay Valette Thompson (Army Service Corps) dies at home of double pneumonia. He is the son of Rear Admiral J M Thompson.
- Private Albert Edward Elms (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at Hamel, near Albert at age 29. He was a keen footballer and billiards player and had played for the All Saint’s eleven. Three of his brothers also served.