Monday 28 January 1918 We Lost 233

by greatwarliveslost

John Alexander McCrae

Flight Lieutenant Cecil Gordon Bronson (Royal Naval Air Service) sets out to carry out a second attack on the Goeben.  He fails to find the ship and is shot down by machine gun fire and made a prisoner having flown low in search of the ship, which has been towed off. Another Short Seaplane is launched from HMS Empress on this morning it reports that the Goeben has disappeared and that there is no wreckage floating around the spot where she has been lying.

On the Western front the casualties for the day included two pilots and their observers killed and one pilot made a prisoner. One crew consists of

  • Second Lieutenant John Milne Milne-Henderson (Royal Engineers attached Royal Flying Corps) who is killed at age 23 with his observer
  • Second Lieutenant Edward A Cunningham when their Bristol F2b is shot down over Graincourt. His brother was killed in July last year.

Seven of thirteen Gothas dispatched attack Britain, as does one of two Giants. The Gothas come in between Harwich and the North Foreland, the first at 19:55 and the last some thirty minutes later. Three reach London, bombing from 20:30 to 21:45 while the others attack Ramsgate, Margate, Sheerness and the Sandwich neighborhood. The Giant makes landfall over Hollesley Bay at 22:25 and follows a course to reach central London at 00:15, its target being the Admiralty.  One of its two six hundred pound bombs causes the worst London incident of the war when it hits the Oldham Press building in Long Acre which is being used as a public shelter and has about five hundred civilians in the basement. The resulting casualties are thirty-eight dead and eighty-five injured, of the total casualties of sixty-seven killed and one hundred sixty-six injured.  Altogether 8,100 pounds of bombs are dropped. One Gotha flies in over the Naze at 20:00, skirting Clacton and follows a steady course to London, then instead of turning south for a major target, unloads its bombs on Hampstead at 21:45. Its return across northeast London is seen by searchlights which attract two of 44 Squadrons Camels flown by Lieutenant George H Hackwill and Second Lieutenant Charles C Banks, who independently sight the Gotha at about 10,000 feet over Romford by its exhaust flames. Banks attacks first, closing to about thirty yards under the left before opening fire with his guns. Meanwhile Hackwill moves in from the right and also engages. The battle goes on for about ten minutes, as progress is etched by tracer bullets in full view of the Noak Hill, Shenfield and Billericay anti-aircraft guns. The Gotha eventually is hit and comes down at Frund’s Farm, Wickford, at 22:10 and the crew is killed.  Hackwill and Banks will both be awarded the Military Cross for their shared victory. During the evening a barrage of 15,000 shells is put up by the defenders.

The submarine E14 (Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Saxton White age 31) fires a torpedo at a Turkish ship in the Dardanelles at 08:45. Eleven seconds later an enormous explosion shakes E14 as either a torpedo detonates early or she is depth charged.  Whatever the cause she is severely damaged with water pouring in unchecked and the submarine is forced to surface where she is met with a barrage of gunfire.  After half an hour it is clear that the best hope for survival is to beach the submarine.  Soon afterwards the boat becomes out of control and as the air supply is nearly exhausted, Lieutenant-Commander White decides to run the risk of proceeding on the surface. Heavy fire is immediately opened from both sides, and, after running the gauntlet for half-an-hour, being steered from below, E14 is so badly damaged that Lieutenant-Commander White turns towards the shore in order to give the crew a chance of being saved. He remains on deck the whole time himself until he is killed by a shell. While attempting this move the submarine receives a direct hit and sinks with the loss of 23 of her crew including her commander. For his efforts this day Commander White will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

The torpedo boat HMS Hazard is sunk as a result of a collision off Portland Bill. Four of her crew are lost.

Another sector of the Italian front is taken over by British forces.

Today’s losses include:

  • A family that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • A Victoria Cross winner
  • A Great War poet
  • A family that will lose two sons in the Great War
  • A teacher at the Macclesfield School of Art

 Today’s highlighted casualties include:

Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander McCrae (Canadian Army Medical Corps) dies of pneumonia at age 45.  He is a Great War Poet of “In Flanders Fields”, and “The Anxious Dead”. Early in the war McCrae is appointed as a field surgeon in the Canadian artillery and is in charge of a field hospital during the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. McCrae’s friend and former student, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer is killed in the battle, and his burial inspires the poem, In Flanders Fields, which is written on 3rd May 1915 and first published in the magazine Punch.