Great War Lives Lost

We died 100 years ago in the War to end all War

Tag: HMS Otranto

Saturday 31 October 1914 – We Lost 1,178

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

The outcome of the Battle of Ypres now hinges around the village of Gheluvelt.  Lying on a forward spur of the low ridge that covers the town of Ypres, Gheluvelt is the last point retained in British hands from which the enemy’s line can be dominated.  By noon the West Surrey, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Welsh and the King’s Royal Rifles have been overwhelmed, while on the right the South Wales Borderers have been rolled back.  Gheluvelt has been lost and a serious gap has been made in the British line. So serious is the situation that unless the gap can be closed, a breakthrough can not be avoided. Indeed orders have already been prepared for artillery to move back in preparation for a general retreat. At 13:00 hours the 2nd Worcestershire Regiment receives an order from Brigadier General Charles Fitzclarence VC to attack and retake Gheluvelt.  Captain A. F. Thorne of the Grenadier Guards is to act as a guide.  From Polygon Wood, the chateau which dominates the village can not be seen but the nearby church tower rising amidst the smoke is visible. All around are wounded and stragglers coming to the rear and batteries can be seen limbering up and moving back. The Worcestershires alone are moving towards the enemy. The ridge is littered with dead and wounded, and along the crest, German shells are falling fast. Major E B Hankey decides that the only way to cross this dangerous area is at the double.  As the leading men reach the ridge, they come in view of the German guns whose high explosive shells are quickly directed on the charging soldiers. Over 100 of the Battalion are killed or wounded but the rest push on and, increasing their speed as they come to the downward slope in sight of Gheluvelt, make the final charge through hedges and on to the Chateau grounds.  Here they meet the remnants of the South Wales Borderers who have made a heroic stand. The meeting is unexpected as the Worcestershires believe no British soldiers are left on the grounds.  The 2nd Worcestershires have gone into this action with about 370 men of whom 187 are killed or wounded.  Gheluvelt is saved and the line restored.  It is rare that the action of one unit can exert such a profound influence as did this famous counter attack.

The town of Messines is held by British infantry with fighting in the streets and the front running north of town roughly parallel to and about 100 yards east of the road and is held by the 4th and 6th Dragoon Guards forming the right of the 4th Cavalry Brigade which holds the line towards Wytschaete. The 57th Wilde’s Rifles has been sent in to assist the Cavalry yesterday but suffers heavy casualties and is forced to withdraw.  The London Scottish is sent in today to fill the dangerous gap and help the Carabiniers to hold the right center of the line.   When the 1st Battalion comes under heavy fire and is pinned down upon reaching the ridge they dig in. They become the 1st Territorial Battalion to come under fire in the Great War. Fierce exchanges of fire continue all day. At about 21:00 the Germans attempt their first attack on the ridge. The attack is beaten off and the bombardment of the ridge by the Germans begins again and continues until after midnight.

Britain, France and Russia declare war on Turkey.

The final bombardment of Tsing-tau begins as the Japanese commence shelling of the fort and the city.

Captain Sydney Drury-Lowe discovers Konigsberg hiding at Salale (which had been prominently ringed in pencil on the freighter Prasident’s charts) up the Rufiji Delta. Dawn is breaking as HMS Chatham anchors off the delta. An armed raiding party goes ashore in Chatham’s steam cutter.  They learn from the natives of Kiomboni village that that the German lookouts have just left to go back to their base for breakfast. The village headman and two other men are taken back to the cutter for questioning. All three confirm that the Konigsberg, the collier Somali and three small vessels are anchored upriver from the Sima Uranga mouth of the Rufiji at Salala, some nine miles inland. The cooperative local headman shows Drury-Lowe the deep-water channels that lead up river from the Kiomboni and Simba Uganda entrances. And as the Chatham follows the coastline northward, her lookouts soon spot Konigsberg’s mastheads standing above the tree line. Chatham fires a few shells in the general direction, but all fall short.  Drury-Lowe signals HMS Weymouth and HMS Dartmouth to leave their patrol areas and join him of the Rufiji River.  While waiting for them, he shells the German wireless station at Mafia Island hoping to disrupt Konigsberg’s communications.

The steamship Karmala carrying Major General Arthur Edward Aitken’s force docks at Mombasa. Aitken and his staff meet with military authorities ashore to discuss the impending attack on Tanga in German East Africa. Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Robert Graham (Queen Victoria’s Corps of Guides attached and commander of the 3rd King’s Africa Rifles), offers Aitken some of his British led askaris who are familiar with the area, but Aitken declines the assistance. Additionally, in spite of his ship having engine trouble, the Captain of the battleship HMS Goliath offers to escort the invasion force to Tanga and lend fire support. Again Aitken refuses the offer. A staff officer, Major Frederick Keen tries to persuade Aitken to put his troops ashore for a few days after their miserable voyage and long confinement aboard ship, he is told that he is making an unnecessary fuss. The list of errors in judgment by Aitken is by now very long. Finally, failure to allow his troops time to recondition is probably Aitken’s worst mistake.  His plan for the attack on Tanga is simple, but he neglects the details.  He ignores local advice and fails to learn all that he can about his enemy and about the terrain where he proposes to land. He also neglects security. Secrecy is almost nonexistent.  Crates in Bombay have been marked “Indian Expeditionary Force ‘B’, Mombasa, East Africa.”  Newspapers in British East Africa even write of the intended attack.

The cruiser HMS Hermes (Captain Charles Laverock Lambe) is torpedoed and sunk by U27 in the Straits of Dover while engaged in transporting aircraft to France.  The first torpedo strikes from a range of about 300 yards and as she is sinking by the stern a second torpedo hits and she quickly sinks.  There are twenty-two fatalities while four hundred survivors are picked up.

HMS Otranto rejoins Cradock’s squadron without having been able to obtain any information. HMS Glasgow signals from Coronel that German supply ships have been frequently sailing in and out of that port and that she has intercepted several transmissions between SMS Leipzig and one of her colliers.  Cradock orders HMS Glasgow to leave Coronel immediately and meet him the next day fifty miles west of Arauco Bay.

The 129th Baluchis come under heavy fire at Hollebeke. With the British officer in charge of his detachment having been wounded and another machine gun put out of action by a shell, Sepoy Khudadad Kahn though wounded himself remains working his gun until all other five men of his detachment have been killed. Naik Sair Amir shows conspicuous gallantry in the same action as he continues to fire his machine as the other guns are put out of action. Sepoy Khan will be awarded the Victoria Cross while Naik Amir will be rewarded with the Indian Order of Merit for their actions today.

Major General Samuel H Lomax (1st Division) is mortally wounded (he will die next April) and Major General Charles C Monro (2nd Division) is badly stunned when a German shell strikes as they are meeting close to the front at Hooge Chateau shortly after midday.

 Today’s casualties include:

  •  The winningest jockey in Ireland in 1907
  • The lightweight boxing champion of India
  • A member of the Marylebone Cricket Club
  • A football player for Linfield Swifts and South End Rangers
  • A Show Horse Jumper
  • An Assistant Boy Scout Master
  • The son of a family that will lose four more sons in the Great War
  • The son of multiple families that will lose three sons between this war and the South African War
  • Multiple examples of a man who will have a brother killed in the war
  • A man whose brother-in-law will be killed
  • A man whose brother was killed in the South African War
  • Multiple men whose children will be born after their death
  • Multiple sons of clergy
  • Multiple grandsons of clergy
  • Multiple Justices of the Peace
  • Multiple sons of Justices of the Peace
  • The son-in-law of a Justice of the Peace
  • The nephew of a Justice of the Peace
  • The son of a General
  • The stepson of a General
  • Multiple grandsons of Generals
  • The nephew of a General
  • The son of an Admiral
  • The Grandson of an Admiral
  • The son of a Victoria Cross winner
  • The half brother of a Member of Parliament
  • A member of the first class of Military Cross winners
  • Multiple battalion commanders
  • The son of the 4th Earl of Erne and father of the 5th Earl who will be killed in the next war
  • The son of the 6th Baron MacDonald of Armadale and the father of the 7th Baron
  • The son of the 1st Baron St Levan
  • The son of a Countess of the Holy Roman Empire
  • The son-in-law of the Duke of Westminster
  • The grandson of the 4th Marquess Townsend
  • The great grandson of the 2nd Earl of Ducie
  • The great grandson of the 17th Baron Dunboyne
  • A cousin of a Baronet

 Today’s highlighted casualty is

Captain Charles Paget O’Brien-Butler (Royal Army Medical Corps attached Irish Lancers) is killed attempting to reach wounded comrades at age 33. He is an outstanding amateur jockey who while riding for His Majesty the late King Edward VII was the winningest rider in Ireland in 1907 and he finished fifth in the Grand National in 1913. His brother-in-law will be killed in less than two months and his brother will be killed in June 1917 while another brother an Irish International Rugby player died of dysentery during the South African War. Finally he is the great grandson of Edmund Butler the 17th Baron Dunboyne.

  •  Colonel Frederick Walter KerrDSO (Gordon Highlanders, staff 1st Divisional Headquarters) is killed at age 47 when the Divisional Headquarters in Hooge Chateau is hit by shellfire. He is the son of Admiral Lord Frederic Kerr and the grandson of General ‘Sir’ Peregrine Maitland GCB. He served in Chitral 1895, Tirah 1897-8 and the South African War.
  • Lieutenant Colonel John Alexander Browning (commanding 2nd Dragoon Guards) is killed at Messines at age 36.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bernard Morland (commanding 2nd Welsh Regiment) dies of wounds at age 47. He is a veteran of the South African War.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Walter Edwin Venour(Commanding 58th Vaughan’s Rifles, Indian Army) is killed by a sniper’s bullet to the head at age 50. He is the son of Lieutenant General Edwin Venour and he has previously seen action in Chin-Luchai 1889-90, Miranzai 1891 and the North West Frontier of India 1897-8 being wounded at Tirah.
  • Major (Temporary Lieutenant Colonel) Arthur Jex Blake Percival DSO (Northumberland Fusiliers and General Staff) is killed at age 43. He served in the Nile 1898 and the South African War and is the son of the Bishop of Hereford.
  • Major (Brevet Lieutenant Colonel) Henry William CrichtonDSO MVO (Royal Horse Guards) is killed at Wytschaete at age 42.  He is the Viscount Crichton and son of the 4th Earl of Erne. He is the son-in-law of the 1st Duke of Westminster and his widow will become Lady Mary Stanley and his son the 5th Earl of Erne will be killed in the Second World War. His brother-in-law was killed yesterday.
  • Major George Paley (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 42. He is the grandson of Canon Nepean Chaplain in Ordinary to her late Majesty Queen Victoria and he served in Soudan 1898 and in the South African War.
  • Major Neil MacPherson(2nd in command 2nd Gurkha Rifles) is killed at age 45. He is the son of the late General ‘Sir’ Herbert Taylor MacPherson VC KCB.  He served in the Isazai Expedition in 1892, the NorthWest Frontier of India, Samana and Tirah in 1897-8, the South African Campaign of 1900-02 and the Abor Expedition 1911-12. He is the grandson of Lieutenant General Eckford CB.
  • Major Robert MacGregor Stewart Gardner(Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed at age 44 at Gheluvelt.  He is a South African War veteran, a nephew of General ‘Sir’ Robert Stewart GCB and his daughter will be born in February 1915.
  • Major Edward Egerton Barwell (Wilde’s Rifles) is killed at age 42. He is the son of General Charles Arthur Barwell CB. He served in Waziristan 1894-5, the Northwest Frontier 1897-8 and China in 1900.
  • Major Francis Maxwell Chenevix Trench (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 36. His brother was killed in the South African War in April 1902 and they are grandsons of the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chenevix Trench.
  • Major Walter Gabriel Home(Dragoon Guards) dies of wounds at age 41.  He is the son of the late Reverend Robert Home and is a South African War veteran.
  • Captain and Adjutant William McMillan Black (Vaughan’s Rifles) is killed at age 31. He is the son of the Reverend William McMillan Black.
  • Captain William Joseph Wickham(Scots Guards) is killed at age 39. He is the son of Captain Henry Lampugh and ‘the Honorable’ Mrs Teresa Mary Wickham Countess of the Holy Roman Empire and the eldest daughter and co-heiress of the 11th Lord Arundell. His brother will die of wounds next January.
  • Captain John Edmund Simpson(King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) is killed at age 41.  He is the son of the late Reverend John Curwen Simpson.
  • Captain Leslie Sedgwick Whitchurch (Indian Army Cavalry attached Dragoon Guards) is killed at age 34. He is the son the Reverend Walter Beaumont Gurney Whitchurch Rector of Spixworth Norfolk. He served on the North West Frontier 1902.
  • Captain John Spottiswoode (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 40. He is the grandson of the Reverend ‘Sir’ St Vincent Love Hammick and nephew of William Spottiswood (former President of the Royal Society, the London Mathmatical Society and the British Association). He is the son-in-law of Dr. Christian David Gisnburg JP and his second son will be born next year.
  • Captain Mervyn Crawshay (Dragoon Guards) a Show Horse Jumper is killed. He has represented the military in tournaments in America in 1913.
  • Captain Albert Alexander Stephen DSO (Scots Guards) is killed at age 35. His brother was killed last month and they are grandsons of Admiral ‘Sir’ Cornwallis Ricketts 2nd
  • Captain Geoffrey Wilmot Herringham (Dragoons) is killed at Messines at age 31. He is the son of ‘Sir’ Wilmot Herringham.
  • Captain and Adjutant Walter Hughes Ferrar (Welsh Regiment) is killed at Gheluvelt at age 38. He is a veteran of the South African War and son of A M Ferrar DL.
  • Captain Frederick William Hunt (Lancers Indian Army) is killed at age 33. He is the son of the Reverend William Cornish Hunt of Odell Rectory Bedfordshire.
  • Captain Edward Hugh Bagot Stack (Gurkha Rifles) is killed atage 29. He is the great nephew of the late Right Reverend Charles Maurice Stack Bishop of Cloghern Clones Ireland.
  • Captain Graham Percival Shedden (Royal Garrison Artillery) dies of wounds at age 28. He is the son of George Shedden JP.
  • Captain Richard Vincent Barker (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed when shot in the chest. He is a South African War veteran and son of the Reverend Frederick Barker Rector of Wimborne St Giles.
  • Captain Hugh Clervaux Chaytor (Light Cavalry Indian Army attachded Hussars) is killed at Messines at age 30. He is the cousin of ‘Sir’ Edmund Chaytor Baronet.
  • Lieutenant Donald Godrid Campbell Thomson (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 21. He is the nephew of Captain G C Karran JP and has a brother who will be killed in October 1917.
  • Lieutenant Edmund Elgood Punchard(Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed by a shot to the head at age 24. He is the son of the late Reverend Elgood George Punchard, Honorary Canon of Ely, DD and Vicar of Ely St Mary’s. His brother will be killed in March 1917.
  • Lieutenant Arthur Knight Nicholson (Hussars) is killed by a sniper at age 21. He is the only son of Herbert Nicholson JP.
  • Lieutenant ‘the Honorable’ Godfrey Evan Hugh Bosville MacDonald JP (Scots Guards) dies of wounds at age 35. He is the son of the 6th Baron MacDonald of Armadale Castle who has lost one son at Krugersdorp South Africa in April 1901 and another son will be killed in October 1918. His son will become the 7th
  • Lieutenant Spencer Julian Wilfred Railston (Lancers, Indian Army attached Dragoon Guards) the one time lightweight boxing champion of India is killed at age 25. He dies attempting to bring in a wounded peasant woman on the field of fire. He is the grandson of the Reverend C E Oakley and great grandson of the 2nd Earl of Ducie.
  • Lieutenant Alan Randall Aufrere Leggett(North Staffordshire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 21.  He is the first of three sons of Colonel Leggett to be killed in the Great War.  His older brothers will be killed on different days in July 1916.  The memory of the three sons is kept alive in the Chancel’s Screen and Memorial Cross in St Martin’s Church, Cheriton.
  • Lieutenant Langton Sacheverell Coke(Irish Guards) is killed at age 36.  He is the son of the late Colonel W L Coke JP DL.
  • Lieutenant Philip Walter Rudolph Doll(Liverpool Regiment) is killed at age 24.  He is the son of Charles FitzRoy Doll JP (London and Hertford) and was the winner of Lord Robert’s Gold Cup at Aldershot in 1914 with his guns. He was also a member of the MCC since 1911.
  • Lieutenant George Archer-Shee(South Staffordshire Regiment) is killed at age 19 as a result of an order to withdraw not reaching his platoon. As a 13-year old cadet at Royal Navy College at Osborne he was accused of stealing a five shilling postal note from the locker of a fellow cadet in 1908. The college asserted that he signed his name to a postal order and cashed it and despite the young boy’s claims of innocence he was expelled. A trial in 1910 vindicated him completely. He is the half-brother of Major Martin Archer-Shee MP.
  • Lieutenant Algernon Lindsay Eric Smith (Life Guards) is killed at age 22. He is among the 1st group of officers to be awarded the Military Cross.
  • Lieutenant and Quartermaster ‘the Honorable’ Edmund WilkinsonDCM (North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 43. His daughter will be born next January and he was a South African War veteran.
  • Second Lieutenant Reginald William Fletcher(Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 22. He rowed with the Oxford University VIII in 1914. His brother will be killed in March 1915.
  • Second Lieutenant ‘the Honorable’ Piers Stewart St Aubyn JP(King’s Royal Rifle Corps) dies of wounds at age 43. He is the son of the 1st Baron and Lady St Levan and grandson of 4th Marquess Townsend and a veteran of the South African War. His brother will be killed in December 1915 serving as a King’s Messenger when SS Persia is sunk.
  • Second Lieutenant Gerald Gordon Clement Elrington (East Yorkshire Regiment) is killed at Festubert at age 20. He is the stepson of General Miles.
  • Second Lieutenant Arnold Septimus Jarvis (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 19. He is the first of five brothers who will be killed in the war.
  • Sergeant Edward Charters White (Black Watch) is killed at age 32. He is the Assistant Scout Master of the Baden Powell Scouts at Fort William Calcutta.
  • Lance Corporal Thomas Alfred Tompkins (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother Wesley will also lose his life in the Great War.
  • Private Leslie Houston (Inniskilling Fusiliers) dies of wounds. He played football for the Linfield Swifts and South-End Rangers.
  • Private Robert Clive Forrest (London Scottish) is killed at age 18. He is the only son of Robert Forrest JP DL.
  • Gunner Frederick Blackwell (Royal Garrison Artillery) is killed at age 24. His brother will be killed next August.
  • Private Thomas Richard Dawes (Dragoon Guards) is killed the day after his brother met the same fate.
  • Private Albert Charles Love (Sussex Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in May 1917.
  • Private Charles Philip Libretto (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 18. His brother will be killed in September 1917.
  • Private William Perrin (West Surrey Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in June 1917.
  • Private W Curtis (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 30. His brother will be killed next January.
  • Private Basil Thomas Freffry (West Surrey Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in August 1917.
  • Henry William and Joseph Batchelor are killed together serving as privates in the Dragoon Guards. Henry is killed at age 28, while Joseph is one year older.
  • Private William Ayres (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at age 28. He has two brothers who will be killed over the next two years.

Wednesday 7 October 1914 – We Lost 68

Irish Guards Cap Badge

Irish Guards Cap Badge

The 7th Division disembarks at Zeebrugge while Sixth Squadron Royal Flying Corps proceeds to Ostend.  Lieutenant Joseph Leslie Dent (South Staffordshire Regiment) locates an enemy trench by daring scouting at night subsequently rushing it with two sections and driving the enemy away.  He will be killed in April 1917.

The Admiralty sends the following message to Admiral Cradock, “It appears that Scharnhorst and Gneisenau are working across to South America. You must be prepared to meet them in company, possibly with a ‘Dresden’ scouting for them. Canopus should accompany Glasgow, Monmouth and Otranto, the ships to search and protect trade in combination. If you propose Good Hope to go, leave Monmouth on the east coast.”

At approximately 05:30 an expedition under the command of Brigadier General Edmund Howard Gorges sets off towards Yabassi on the Wuri River.  Lieutenant Commander Bertram Thomas Carlyle Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, Captain of HMS Challenger, commands a naval contingent of one hundred seaman and marines with two six-inch naval guns and one twelve-pound field gun. Commander Freeman-Mitford’s brother will be killed in May 1915 serving in the Hussars and his son will be killed in Burma in March 1945.  The soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Vaughan of the West Africa Regiment, include six companies of the 1st Nigeria Regiment, the Pioneer Company of the Gold Coast Regiment and about six hundred carriers. There is also a battery of four mountain guns. This little expedition is stowed into a variety of river craft that includes a dredger, six steam launches of various sizes, a steam tug, a stern wheeler, eight surf boats, eight steel lighters, two one-hundred foot motor launches, a motor pinnace and HMS Cumberland’s picket boat. One of the six inch guns is mounted on the dredger and the other on one of the steel lighters, which the sailors mockingly christen Dreadnought.  The two become, in effect, river monitors.  As the flotilla sails up the Wuri, nothing is seen for miles on the river’s banks but tangles of dense bush and tall elephant grass. Then just at sunset at a place called Nsake Hill, about ten miles below Yabassi, the flotilla is fired upon. The British mountain guns quickly silence the fire and a company from the West Africa Regiment is landed and occupies Nsake; other troops are put ashore on the opposite bank and the flotilla anchors for the night in midstream.

Four hundred eighty Germans with 6 machine guns attack Gazi but are beaten off by 850 British who also have 6 machine guns. The British suffer 10 casualties.

 Today’s losses include:

  •  Son of a Baronet
  • Son of a Justice of the Peace
  • Son-in-law of clergy
  • An original officer of the Irish Guards when formed in 1900
  • A man whose second child will be born Christmas Eve

 Today’s highlighted casualty is

 Lieutenant George Brooke (Irish Guards) dies of wounds received two days prior at age 37.  He is the son of ‘Sir’ George Brooke, the 1st Baronet. He is an original officer of the Irish Guards when the Regiment was raised in 1900 and a great nephew of ‘Sir’ Charles Shakerley Baronet. He is the son-in-law of the Right Honorable Lord Arthur Hill PC.

  •  Captain Reginald John Petty Devenish Aldridge (Sussex Regiment) is killed by a bursting shell at age 37. He is the son of Reginald Aldridge JP and the son-in-law of the Reverend J Padmore Noble Vicar of Childs Ercall Market Drayton. His second child and only son will be born on 24 December.
  • Second Lieutenant William Robert Launcelot Calrow (North Lancashire Regiment) is killed at age 19. He is the great grandson of William Calrow JP DL.

Saturday 3 October 1914 – We Lost 80


The British Admiralty notifies the world of the laying down of a defensive minefield. The merchant ship Dawdon (Master John Steel) strikes a mine ten miles from the Wandelaar Light Vessel and sinks killing her crew of ten.

HMS Monmouth and HMS Glasgow leave Port Stanley to meet HMS Otranto and search for rumored German trade on the West Coast of South America.  HMS Good Hope stays at Port Stanley in case SMS Dresden re-enters the Atlantic.

  • The son of the Director of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)

Lieutenant Alastair Mansfield Smith Cumming (Seaforth Highlanders attached Intelligence Corps) dies as a result of a motor car accident at age 24.  He is the son of Captain ‘Sir’ Mansfield Smith-Cumming KCMG, CB, Royal Navy. His father lost his left foot in the accident and was the first Director of what would become the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) also known as MI6.

photo from