Tuesday 2 October 1917 We Lost 713
The cruiser HMS Drake is several miles off the north-west tip of Rathlin Island after carrying out routine escort duties with convoy HH24 inbound from Norfolk, Virginia. The U-79 locates HH24 in the early morning and finds the Drake in her sight and fires one of her torpedoes, the resulting explosion kills 19 seamen though the cruiser remains afloat. After the attack and as normal procedure, the convoy disperses – the remaining naval and auxiliary escorts including the HMS Brisk, a type H (Acorn) destroyer, are deployed to follow up on the dispersed ships, some through Rathlin Sound and others in the North Channel. The 2,372 ton SS Lugano, loaded with cotton and steel from Virginia comes into the Sound and is hit on her starboard side by a torpedo fired from U-79, the explosion ripping a large hole in the hull resulting in her sinking rapidly, though with no loss of life. Shortly afterwards HMS Brisk following up on her charges makes a sweep up the Sound and is hit by a torpedo amidships causing a catastrophic explosion which breaks her in two, the bow section sinking in the Sound while the stern section is eventually towed into Londonderry – the explosion killing thirty-one seamen.
The crippled Drake under the command of Captain S. H. Radcliffe is escorted into Church Bay by HMS Martin and other auxiliary ships where she will be anchored. An attempt was made to beach her in Church Bay, but the degree of list becomes critical and she is abandoned to capsize in eighteen meters of water a few hundred meters from the shore. There are no casualties as a result of the capsizing.
Today’s losses include:
- The son of a military chaplain
- The nephew of a Member of Parliament and former Chancellor of the Exchequer
- An actor
- A former Kent cricket player
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in The Great War
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain John Bredel Matthews MC (North Staffordshire Regiment attached Leicestershire Regiment) is killed at age 26. His brother will be killed in August 1918.
- Lieutenant Douglas Fraser Mackintosh (Royal Field Artillery attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed at age 27 while observing for artillery near Ypres. He is the son of Chaplain the Reverend William Teesdale Mackintosh and served as G Mathews. He was educated at The Wick, Furze Hill, and Brighton College. On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces, and he took part in the landing at Gallipoli, where he was shot through the throat and temporarily blinded. Returning to England for medical treatment, he received a commission in the Royal Field Artillery.
- Lieutenant Justin Morell McKenna (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 21. He is the nephew of the Right Hon. R McKenna MP former Chancellor of the Exchequer.
- Second Lieutenant Basil Ralph Gardiner Holmes (Royal Field Artillery) is killed by a bomb dropped by an enemy aircraft. He was formerly with the Anti-Aircraft Defences at Grove Park and was then in charge of the Wandsworth Common Station. He is former member of Miss Horoiman’s company of actors at the Gaiety.
- Second Lieutenant Ernest Herbert Simpson (Royal Garrison Artillery) dies of wounds at age 41 near Vlamertinghe from an aeroplane bomb being dropped. He played cricket for Kent in 1896.
- Second Lieutenant Roger Thomas William Miles (Leicestershire Regiment) is killed while leading a counter-attack on Ploegsteert Wood at age 34. He is a veteran of the South Africa War and his brother will be killed in March 1918. Lieutenant Miles served in the Kimberley Regiment through the German South West African campaign. When that was over he came to England and entered a Cavalry Cadet School, but was laid up with measles through a great part of his training and failed to pass. He then served as a Trooper in the Hussars in France and was subsequently given a Commission in the Leicestershire Regiment. He went to the Front in July 1917.
- Lance Corporal Walter Augustine Sangar (Royal Fusiliers) is killed at age 39. He is the son of the Reverend James Mortimer Sangar Rector of Elworthy.
- Private Bernard Cantrell Davis (Canterbury Regiment) is killed at age 35. His brother will be killed in April next year and they are sons of the Reverend Henry John Davis Vicar of Hampden New Zealand.
- Gunner Frederick James Shaw (Australian Field Artillery) is killed as the last of three brothers who are killed in the last year.