Saturday 2 June 1917 – We Lost 509
In the early morning the hired transport S S Cameronian (Captain Robert Roberts) is torpedoed and sinks almost immediately fifty miles northwest by north from Alexandria, Egypt while en-route to that port. Captain Roberts and ten of the crew are drowned, as are an officer and forty-seven men of the Royal Army Service Corps and an officer of the London Regiment. She is carrying a large number of mules, with a few soldiers to look after them. Unfortunately a number of men are asleep in hammocks on the lower deck. The explosion floods this deck and many of the men drown as the ship sinks in five minutes. Among those killed are
- Drivers and twins Percy and Walter Hodkinson 24 lost while serving as horse transport drivers with the Army Service Corps.
Captain William Avery Bishop (Royal Flying Corps) who has been sent out to work independently, flies first to an enemy aerodrome, where finding no machines, flies on to another aerodrome about three miles south east, which is at least twelve miles the other side of the line. Seven machines, some with their engines running, are on the ground. He attacks these from about fifty feet, and a mechanic, who is starting one of the engines, is seen to fall. One of the machines gets off the ground, but at a height of sixty feet, Captain Bishop fires fifteen rounds into it at very close range, and it crashes to the ground. A second machine gets off the ground, into which he fires thirty rounds at one hundred fifty yards range, and it falls into a tree. Two more machines then rise from the aerodrome. One of these he engages at a height of 1,000 feet, emptying the rest of his drum of ammunition. This machine crashes three hundred yards from the aerodrome, after which Captain Bishop empties a whole drum into the fourth hostile machine, and flies back to his station. Four hostile scouts are about 1,000 feet above him for about a mile of his return journey, but they do not attack. His machine is very badly shot about by machine gun fire from the ground. For his actions this day Captain Bishop will be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Today’s losses include:
- A bronze medal Olympic swimmer
- Twins killed together
- The Head Master of Taplow C E School
- The son of a Justice of the Peace
- The former Vice Chairman of the Calcutta Port Commission
- A family that will lose three sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain George Ernest Arthur Leake (London Regiment) dies of wounds received in action at Bullecourt on 14 May at age 29. He is the former Head Master of Taplow C E School, Bucks.
- Lieutenant Aubrey Francis Blackwell MC (Royal Field Artillery) is killed by a shell while returning to his reserve line to have a wounded leg bandaged. He is the son of the late Thomas Francis Blackwell JP DL and is killed at age 26.
- Second Lieutenant Henry Jephson Hilary (Royal Field Artillery) the former Vice Chairman of the Calcutta Port Commissioners is killed in action at age 42.
- Private Harry Birch (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 22. He is the first of three brothers who are killed in the Great War.
Private Percy Courtman (Manchester Regiment) dies of wounds received in action at age 29. He is an International swimming (Breast Stroke) record holder in the 200, 400 and 500 meter distances who won the Bronze medal at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in the 400-meter breaststroke. He also finished 4th in the in the 200 meter breastst