Saturday 17 November 1917 We Lost 507
German minesweepers clearing a path through the British minefield in the Heligoland Bight near the coast of Germany are intercepted by three British cruisers, HMS Calypso, HMS Cardiff and HMS Caledon, performing counter-minesweeping duties. The German ships flee south toward the protection of the battleships SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin. The two cruisers engage the German battleships, while their own screening force of the battlecruisers HMS Tiger, HMS Renown, HMS Repulse, HMS Courageous, and HMS Glorious of the First Battlecruiser Squadron, commanded by Admiral Sir Charles Napier, come up to assist. All personnel on the bridge of HMS Calypso, including Captain Herbert L Edwards, are killed by a 12-inch shell. HMS Repulse, Captain William Boyle, later Admiral of the Fleet, 12th Earl of Cork and Orrery, briefly engage the German battleships, but the Germans make it back to the safety of their own minefields with the loss of one minesweeper.
A total of twenty-two naval personnel are killed in this the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight.
- Ordinary Seaman John Henry Carless (Royal Navy, HMS Caledon) dies of wounds at age 21 received while performing acts that will be rewarded with a posthumous Victoria Cross. Although mortally wounded in the abdomen, he still continued serving the gun at which he was acting as rammer, lifting a projectile and helping to clear away the other casualties. He collapses once, but gets up, tries again, and cheers on the new gun’s crew. He then falls down and dies. He not only set a very inspiring and memorable example, but he also, while mortally wounded, continues to do effective work against the King’s enemies.
- Bugler Charles Ernest Timmins (Royal Marine Light Infantry HMS Cardiff) age 14 is killed when a shell strikes the ships bridge. His father was killed in the sinking of HMS Hogue.
The destroyer HMS Firedrake sinks the German submarine UC-51 off Harwich.
Today’s losses include:
- A Victoria Cross winner
- A fourteen year old Marine bugler
- Captain of HMS Calypso
- Grandson of Baron de Rothschild
- The son of a member of the clergy and Chaplain to the services
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Major Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars) dies at Citadel Hospital, Cairo of wounds received during the Battle of Mughar Ridge age 31. He is a member of the prominent Rothschild banking family. He was born into wealth and privilege and was expected to play a major role with the N M Rothschild & Sons At the outbreak of the Great War he and his brother Anthony joined the Army. In November 1915 while on the Western Front he was wounded and sent home to recuperate. Within a few months he was back at the Front where in March 1916 his service resulted in his being Mentioned in Dispatches. Sent to fight in Palestine, he was critically wounded on 13th November fighting the Turkish Seventh Army and he dies of those wounds today. On 5th December 1920 his brother, Captain Anthony de Rothschild, will unveil the War Memorial in the churchyard of All Saints Church at Wing, Buckinghamshire honoring Evelyn and his other comrades from Wing who were killed in the war. He is the grandson of Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild.
- Captain (Brigade Major) Charles Gordon Dowding MC (Punjabis) is killed in action in East Africa at age 28. He is the son of the late Reverend William Berkeley Dowding Chaplain to the Forces.
- Driver William Francis Pulham (King Edward’s Horse) dies at home as a result of shell shock. His brother will be killed next March.