Thursday 20 December 1917 We Lost 324
On this day while landing in the fog at Polegate, England SSZ.7 collides with SSZ.10. This collision causes a fire to breakout on board both airships. Flight Lieutenant Victor Watson (Royal Navy), who is the senior officer on the sight, immediately rushes up to the car of one of the airships under the impression that one of the crew is still in it., although he is well aware that there are heavy bombs attached to the airship which it is impossible to remove owing to the nearness of the fire, and which are almost certain to explode at any moment due to the heat. Having satisfied himself that there is in fact no one in the car, he turns away to render assistance elsewhere, and at that moment one of the bombs explodes, a portion of it shattering Lieutenant Watson’s right arm at the elbow. The arm has to be amputated almost immediately. For his actions on this day Lieutenant Watson will be awarded the Albert Medal.
The Australian people again vote on the conscription issue. The results are the same with 1,015,159 voting in favor while 1,181,747 voting against. Among the armed services 103,789 vote in favor with 93,910 against.
Captain Henry Colt Arthur Hoare (Dorset Yeomanry) dies of wounds at age 29. He was wounded on 13th November at Mughair Ridge, and was removed to the Raseltin Hospital at Alexandria where he dies. He is the only son of ‘Sir’ Henry Hoare 6th Baronet and Lady Hoare. Captain Hoare was sent to Egypt with the Dorset Yeomanry in March 1915 and from there to Gallipoli until the evacuation, when he was invalided with pneumonia and typhoid. He returned to his Regiment in July 1916, and was wounded at Gaza in March 1917, rejoining in the following May.
Today’s losses include:
- The son of a Baronet
- The son of a member of the clergy
- Multiple families that will lose two sons
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Captain Christopher Ken Merewether (Wiltshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 27 in Egypt. He is the son of the Reverend Canon Wyndham Arthur Seinde Merewether.
- Lance Sergeant Frederick Stafford Ingram (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at the Piave at age 27. His brother was killed in July 1915 and their half-brother will be killed in April next year.
- Private Robert William Griffith (Welsh Regiment) is killed at age 20. His older brother was killed last September.