Sunday 23 December 1917 We Lost 526
Captain James Thomas Byford McCudden (Royal Flying Corps) performs one of the acts that will lead him to being awarded the Victoria Cross. While leading his patrol, eight enemy airplanes are attacked between 14:30 and 15:50 and of these, Captain McCudden shoots down two in our lines. Earlier, during this morning, he leaves the ground at 10:50 and encounters four enemy airplanes and of these he shoots down two.
A mine near the Maas light buoy sinks HMS Torrent (Lieutenant Commander Frederick Archibald Warner DSO) while en route to meet a convoy. While trying to assist her, HMS Surprise (Commander Wilfred Arthur Thompson) also strikes a mine. HMS Tornado (Lieutenant Commander Ralph Michael Mack killed) then tries to clear the area but strikes two mines and sinks. The only destroyer in the unit to escape is HMS Radiant (Commander G F Nash). HMS Tornado has only one survivor. A total of 252 sailors are killed. Among the dead is
- Able Seaman William Streaton Dempster (HMS Surprise) killed at age 26. His brother was killed in March 1916.
- Ordinary Seaman John Brydon Thallon is also killed. His brother will be killed in May 1918.
- Leading Seaman Walter Love is killed at age 33. His brother will die on service in January 1919.
Major Robert Egerton MC (Royal Irish Fusiliers attached Royal Flying Corp) is accidentally killed at age 25. He is the third son of ‘Sir’ Reginald Egerton CB. He was educated at the Oratory School, Birmingham, and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, and entered the Royal Irish Fusiliers in 1913, joining his regiment in India in that year. He proceeded from India with his regiment to the front in November, 1914. In March, 1915 he was awarded the Military Cross “for gallantry, ability, and useful reconnaissance work on many occasions at great personal risk. By the gallant leading of his platoon at St. Eloi he prevented the advancing enemy from taking an important position, and later rendered very material assistance in the reconnaissance prior to our counter-attack”. He was soon invalided home being pronounced by a medical board as unfit for trench work. He devoted his time at home learning to fly, obtained his “wings,” and was appointed a flying officer in the Royal Flying Corp. At the time of his death he is in command of a squadron.
Today’s losses include:
- Multiple families that will lose two and three sons in the Great War
- A battalion commander
- A member of the Marylebone Cricket Club
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- A 12-victory ace
- A grandson of a General
- A Brompton footballer
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lieutenant Colonel Francis Alexander Umfreville Pickering DSO (Dragoons commanding 9th Rifle Brigade) is killed. He is a veteran of the South African War and a member of the MCC.
- Major Herbert Mainwaring Williams DSO (Army Veterinary Corps) dies at age 38. He is the son of the late Reverend Richard Mainwaring Williams.
- Captain Clive Franklyn Collett MC (Royal Flying Corps) a 12-victory ace is accidentally killed at age 31 when he crashed flying a captured Albatros over the Firth of Forth.
- Lieutenant Reginald Benade Glendower Ottley (North Staffordshire Regiment attached Royal Flying Corps) is killed at age 21. He is the last of three brothers who are killed in the Great War and they are grandsons of Major General C G Ottley (Madras Army).
- Flight Sub Lieutenant Douglas Ross Cameron Wright (Royal Naval Air Service) is killed when his Tri-plane spins into the ground over his aerodrome while returning from a patrol at age 25. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ M C Cameron.
- Private James William Smith (Yorkshire Regiment) is killed. He played for the Brompton Football Club and is a gifted runner and athlete.
- Rifleman Wilfred John Hare (London Regiment) is killed in Palestine at age 22. He is the son of the Reverend Arthur Henry Maclean Hare Rector of St Edmund’s Exeter.