Friday 20 July 1917 We Lost 622
Lieutenant Colonel Clive Maitland Waterlow (Royal Engineers, Wing Commander Royal Naval Air Service) is killed at age 31 at the Royal Naval Air Service Training Establishment at Cranwell. It is typical overcast summer’s day with a light breeze of not more than four or five mph. A landing party is walking airship SS.39 back to its shed after an instructional flight. Although a routine operation, on this occasion they are being supervised by the Commanding Officer of the Airship Training Wing, Commander Waterlow. Suddenly the airship begins to lift off. As instructed the landing party lets go of the ropes, all except, that is, Waterlow and two of the party, PO Mechanic Maurice George Collins and AMII Simon Lightstone. For some reason these three men spring forward and grasp the fore starboard guy just as the airship leaps into the air and quickly gains height. The three men hang on as well as they can but as their grips weaken they fall one by one to their deaths. The SS.39 later makes a landing about one and half miles east of Cranwell village and is ripped but otherwise it suffers little damage. Wing Commander Waterlow is the only son of David Sydney Waterlow former Member of Parliament for Islington and grandson of ‘Sir’ Sydney Waterlow and dies at age 33. Waterlow was involved in the inaugural flight of the first British Army Airship, Nulli Secundus, at Farnborough on the morning of 10th September 1907.
The Royal Navy trawler Robert Smith (Skipper George William Robinson RNR) is sunk by gunfire from U-44. Twenty-five are killed including her skipper.
The P&O express mail liner Salsette is torpedoed in the starboard side of the engine room by UB-40 fifteen miles southwest from Portland Bill on its way to Marseilles and Bombay. The torpedo strikes at 12:01 and fifteen men are killed in the explosion. Moments later Captain Albert Armitage (Royal Naval Reserve) gives the order to abandon ship – an evacuation that is completed in five minutes. Forty-five minutes later the ship lists to the port side and sinks. The UB-40 sits out several depth-charge attacks before surfacing and sinking another steamer, the collier L H Carl, just one hour later. Two crewmembers are killed in this sinking.
Deck Hand Alfred Jenkins (HM Paddle minesweeper Queen of the North, Royal Naval Reserve) is killed at age 26 when his ship is sunk by a mine off Orfordness. He has two brothers and a brother-in-law who will be killed in the Great War. Twenty-nine members of the crew are killed.
Today’s losses include:
- The son of a former Member of Parliament for Islington
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- A man whose brother-in-law was killed
- Multiple sons of member of the clergy
- A grandson of a member of the clergy
- A hockey and cricket player
- A 10-victory ace
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain Alfred Seymour Shepherd (Australian Infantry attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed at age 24. He is a 10-victory ace.
- Captain Ernest Dyce Messervy (London Regiment attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed in action. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
- Lieutenant Wallace Austin Jonathan Marsden (Royal Field Artillery) dies of wounds received 24 September 1916 at home. He is the son of the Reverend Jonahtan Marsden Vicar of Llanllwich.
- Lieutenant Christopher Jack Forster (Royal Field Artillery attached Royal Engineers) is killed at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Francis S Forster.
- Second Lieutenant Launcelot Sulyarde Robert Cary (Devonshire Regiment) is killed by machine gun fire at age 25 north of Bazentinele Grand Wood. He played hockey for Clevedon, Blackheath and the Oxford and Cambridge Wanderers and played for the Clevendon Cricket Club.
- Second Lieutenant Eric Barnes Yardley (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) dies of wounds at home. He is the grandson of the Reverend William Barnes.
- Second Lieutenant Arthur Reeve Stainbank (Royal Field Artillery) is killed in action at age 23. His brother died at home in April 1916.
- Private William Frederick Perry (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed in action in Palestine at age 19. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
- Boy Artificer Kenneth Angus Brown (HMS Fisgard) dies at home at age 18. His brother was killed on HMS Invincible at Jutland.