Friday 23 March 1917 – We Lost 359
HMS Laforey and her sister ship the HMS Laertes escort several cargo ships to France, using the Folkstone to Boulogne route. The ships are safely berthed in France and the destroyers have turned for home when at 16:30 a large explosion detonates on the Laforey amidships. The ship immediately breaks in half, with the stern sinking immediately with all aboard. The bow remains floating for some time, as the Laertes struggles to rescue the surviving crew. However, that part also rapidly disappears, leaving just 18 survivors. The wreck remains intact with the 59 crew members who lost their lives in the wreck still aboard including:
- Chief Petty Officer Joseph John Bassett Thompson whose wife will give birth to a daughter shortly after his death.
- Ordinary Seaman William Tredgett lost at age 20. His brother will be killed in submarine K4 in January next year.
The steamship Stuart Prince is sunk by a submarine killing twenty. Among the dead is:
- Fourth Engineer Officer John Henry Moir killed at age 21. His father will be killed serving as First Engineer on the steamship Formby when it is sunk in December.
The 9th Brigade arrives at Shahraban by 23:00.
Today’s losses include:
- A man whose wife will give birth to a daughter shortly
- A man whose father will be killed in December
- The son of a member of the clergy
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Leonard Murray (Lancashire Hussars attached Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed at home at age 20. He is the son of the Reverend Douglas Stuart Murray and he is the only Great War casualty buried in Blithfield (St Leonard) Churchyard where his father is the Rector.
- Gunner Reginald Norman Neems (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 23. His brother was killed in October 1915.