Sunday 22 April 1917 – We Lost 963
A violent explosion occurs on board HM Motor Launch 431 while she is lying alongside the jetty at her base. The aft part of the vessel is wrecked, and it at once becomes known that Sub Lieutenant Charles W Nash RNVR is buried beneath the wreckage. Chief Motor Mechanic Ernest Pooley and Deckhand Herbert Powley, who are on board their own vessel lying at the jetty some fifty yards astern, immediately hurry to the motor launch, which is by this time burning fiercely. The flames are drawing nearer to the spot where Sub-Lieutenant Nash lays buried, and it is clear that there is imminent danger of the afte petrol tanks exploding at any moment. Regardless of the fact that this would mean certain death to them, Powley and Pooley jump on board the vessel and succeed in extricating Sub-Lieutenant Nash from beneath the wreckage and carrying him to the jetty. As they were leaving the boat the whole of the afte part bursts into flames, and, in all probability had they delayed for another thirty seconds all three would have perished. Deckhand Powley, who led the way on board the burning motor launch, had subsequently to be sent to hospital suffering from the effects of fumes. For their efforts both men will be awarded the Albert Medal.
Today’s losses include:
- A Hearts of Midloathian footballer
- A battalion commander
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- A man whose twin brother is also killed
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel William Walter Gilbert Griffith (Lancers, Indian Army) is killed in Mesopotamia at age 50. His brother was killed on the Western Front serving in the same Regiment in May 1915.
- Major Arthur Travers Saulez (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 33. His twin brother will die as a result of war service in 1921 and they are sons of the Reverend Robert Thomas Saulez Rector of Willngale Doe.
- Captain Robert Ferguson Russell (Royal Army Medical Corps) dies on service at age 33. He is the son of the Reverend James Alexander Russell.
- Lieutenant Osmond Mowatt (Hussars) dies of wounds received in a cavalry charge during the Battle of Arras. He was and underwriting member of Lloyds.
- Lieutenant Michael Richard Leader Armstrong (Royal Engineers) is killed in Thiepval Wood at age 26. He is the son of the Right Honorable Henry Bruce Armstrong.
- Second Lieutenant Douglas David Raymond Lewis (Durham Light Infantry) is killed at age 25. He is the son of the Reverend Thomas Phillips Lewis Vicar of Silian.
- Second Lieutenant Arthur Cecil Shakerley (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 37. His brother was killed in March 1915.
- Second Lieutenant Noel Humphreys Roberts (Shropshire Light Infantry) is killed at age 23. He is the son of the Reverend Frederick Roberts Vicar of St Giles Shrewsbury. Second Lieutenant Arthur Cecil Shakerley (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 37. He is the third son of Geoffrey Joseph to be killed in the Great War. .
- Second Lieutenant Neville Stanley Bostock (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 29. His brother was killed earlier this month and they are sons of Edward Ingram Bostock JP.
- Sergeant John Allan (Royal Scots) is killed in action at age 30. During the Battle of Arras he is a member of a patrol that is sent to reconnoiter a wood. The patrol becomes caught in a deadly crossfire and he is killed. He had been a footballer with the Hearts of Midlothian Football Club.
- Private Herbert Edward Elphick (Sherwood Foresters) is killed. His brother will die at Salonika after the war ends.
- Boy John Williams (Cheshire Regiment) dies on service at home. His brother was killed in action.
- Major John de Luze Simonds DSO (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 32. A bloodstained copy of the following poem is found on his body and returned to his family.
If I should die,
Be very full of pride that I have died for England:
Shed no tears because unhallowed ground enshrines my bones,
Think of me rather in some orchard plot at peace with God,
Where some tall poplar tree uplifts my soul to Heaven –
My weary soul that looks for ever star-wards, nor avails
For France is hallowed by your English dead
Where blaze the poppies like a scarlet wound,
Sprung from the blood of heroes:
Yesteryear they led their lives in shop and mart,
Thinking no evil and content to live at peace with all around,
But this same year the poppy springs above their grave:
A wound which they have died to salve
Be very proud to number me among the deathless dead.
Along the trench the cornflower shimmers blue
Like eyes bestarred with tears:
So long ago we wore its bloom in pride of victory,
Where called the deep Cathedral chimes to prayer.
Oh the grey walls and warm red tiled roofs,
The Itchen’s purling stream and velvet meads,
Where we have played together –
Never more to lie beneath the trees and drink the sun