Thursday 8 February 1917 – We Lost 576

by greatwarliveslost

HMS Gurkha

HMS Gurkha

Early this morning, shortly after midnight the steamship Hanna Larsen is sighted by the German submarine UC-39. The steamer stops and the submarine dives to approach her submerged. The Hanna Larsen now attempts to escape by “zig-zagging” but the German craft comes to the surface and opens fire at the steamer that again stops and lowers her boats.  The U-boat sends men over to the British ship to sink her with bombs making the master and chief prisoners.

At 13:00, having sunk a Norwegian steamer in the meantime, UC-39 again comes to the surface and opens fire on another steamer, but this time her fire is almost immediately answered by the British destroyer HMS Thrasher (Lieutenant Commander E M Hawkins).  UC39 dives, but not soon enough, as a depth charge shakes her so badly that water pours into her conning tower and control room. She then rises sharply to the surface only to have the destroyer rake her fore and aft. In spite of the fact that her captain has by now been killed, the submarine continues to make good speed and therefore the destroyer continues to fire. Finally, the destroyer hails the U boat through a megaphone to stop and this being done, fire is ceased and seventeen German survivors are taken aboard the destroyer. The two British prisoners are also rescued uninjured.                                                                                                                                                                                  The destroyer HMS Gurkha (Lieutenant Harold Courtenay Woollcombe-Boyce killed at age 29) strikes a mine off Dungerness and sinks with the loss seventy-five. Five of her crew are saved.

  • Seaman George Duchart RNR killed at age 19. His brother died of wounds in October 1915.

The destroyer HMS Liberty (Lieutenant Commander P W S King) rams and sinks the German submarine UC-46 southeast of the Goodwins.

Today’s losses include:

  • An actor
  • Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • The son of a member of the clergy

Today’s highlighted casualties include:

  • Second Lieutenant Charles Martin Armstrong (Royal Dublin Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Chancellor S C Armstrong Rector of Kilrush.
  • Private Ernest Longford (Prince of Wales Own West Yorkshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 29. His brother was killed in July 1916.
  • Private John Hull (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. His older brother was killed last September.
  • Private Sydney Clapham (Border Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed in November.
  • Private Charles Rylance (West Yorkshire Regiment) at age 24. His brother was killed last September.
  • Private Robert Normanton Stanhope Butler (Manchester Regiment) is killed at age 30. He is an actor and the son of an actor.