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World War 1 at Sea - British Merchant and Fishing Vessels Lost and Damaged



SS Highland Brae, captured 14 January 1915
(image from contemporary account, no enlargement)

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(1) Ships in BOLD capitals are those sunk or otherwise lost; in lower case bold, attacked and/or damaged. Variations in the published information are in brackets starting with an abbreviation for the source e.g. (wi - in 53.50N, 00.50E).

(2) Merchant ship and fishing vessel information is generally in the order - gross tonnage/build year, owner, registration port or place of ownership/management, crew if known, master or skipper, voyage and cargo, conditions if known. How sunk or damaged, lives lost (source abbreviations starting with + for original HMSO)

(3) Three items of information, the first two from the original HMSO lists, have been excluded to save space.  (i) All merchant ships and fishing vessels torpedoed, were ATTACKED WITHOUT WARNING;  (ii) if no casualties are shown, NO LIVES WERE LOST; (iii) all sinkings and attacks were by GERMAN SUBMARINES or U-boats unless otherwise stated.

(4) Click for Notes, Abbreviations and Sources.






British Merchant Vessels Lost to Enemy Action in January: 11 merchant ships totalling 32,054grt - 3 of 12,304grt to surface ships, 7 of 17,126grt to submarines, 1 of 2,624grt to mines, plus 2 fishing vessels totalling 222grt, both by mines (H)

U.31 possibly mined in North Sea in January


Friday 1 January 

North Sea

Westergate, 1,742/1881, Weatherley Mead & Hussey, London, sailing Bilbao for Middlesbrough with iron ore. Mined (H - in North Sea; L - 2 miles NNW of S Goodwin LV i.e. southern extremity of North Sea), towed in. Sunk 21 April 1918 (+L/ms)


Thursday 7 January

North Sea

ELFRIDA, 2,624/1907, Brewis Line, Newcastle-reg, 21 crew, Tyne for London with 4,150t coal. Mined, possibly Scarborough field (Kolberg), sank 2 miles ENE of Scarborough, Yorkshire (wi - in 54.17.52N, 00.19.17W) (+L/Lr/Mn/wi)


Sunday 10 January

Central Atlantic 

POTARO, 4,419/1904, Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, Belfast-reg, Mr Henry Bennett, Liverpool for Montevideo/Buenos Aires in ballast. Captured by Kronprinz Wilhelm at 0030, 560 miles E by N¼N true of Pernambuco (L/kp - in 05.48N, 25.58W), retained as a scout, painted grey, fitted with Telefunken transmitter/receiver wireless, but not employed, scuttled somewhere to the south of her capture position 6 February (kp – 30 January) (+L/Mn/kp)


Thursday 14 January

Central Atlantic

Two vessels captured by Kronprinz Wilhelm NE by E¼E true from Pernambuco:

HIGHLAND BRAE, passenger ship, 7,634/1910, Nelson Steam Navigation Co, London-reg, Mr R Pond, London for Buenos Aires with passengers and general cargo. Captured 630 miles off (L - in 02.46N, 24.11W; kp - about 230 miles NE of St Paul’s Rocks), retained as temporary stores and prison ship, scuttled 31st (kp - 30th, 100 miles SE of Ilha da Trinidade) (+L/Mn/kp/wd)

see the Diary of Mr Samuel Hitchen, First Mate of SS Highland Brae, POW on Kronprinz Wilhelm, 14 January to 17 February 1915

WILFRID M (sometimes Wilfred M or erroneously Wilfrid 19), 3-masted schooner, 251/1909, Ship 'Wilfred M' Co, Bridgetown, Barbados-reg, Mr C Parks, St Johns (NF)/Halifax (NS) for Bahia with dried fish. Captured 625 miles of (L - 02.46N, 26W), rammed four times to save the cruiser's ammunition, but only succeeded in cutting her in two, remained afloat (fore-part only?), wreck drifted ashore at Grenada on 28 April (+L/Lr/Mn/kp)

from the Diary, "A Nova Scotian schooner rammed by the raider" - "The last of the little Nova Scotian schooner"


Thursday 21 January

U.7 accidentally torpedoed by U.22 off Dutch coast

North Sea

DURWARD, 1,301/1895, George Gibson & Co, Leith, Mr John Wood, sailing Leith for Rotterdam with general cargo, rainy but clear weather, steaming at 12kts. Stopped by U.19 (Constantin Kolbe) after half hour chase, two bombs placed against ship's side, exploded after half an hour, ship settled and went down 22 miles NW of Maas LV, off Hook of Holland. U-boat towed the crew north to within 1 mile of Maas LV, picked up by Dutch pilot steamer, boats taken in tow to the Hook (+L/Mn/ap/ge/ms/sn/te/un)


Friday 22 January

North Sea

Two fishing vessels on fishing grounds mined in different fields:

WINDSOR, trawler, 172/1898, Queen Steam Fishing, Grimsby-reg. Possibly Humber field (Nautilus), sank 55 miles E of Spurn Head (+L/Lr/gy)

GOLDEN ORIOLE, (L - trawler), 50grt. Possibly Yarmouth field (Kolberg), sank 37 miles E by N of Lowestoft (+L)


Thursday 28 January

Auxiliary cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich sank American sailing ship William P Frye, the first US loss of the war


Saturday 30 January

U-boat warfare - first merchant ships sunk without warning by a U-boat, apparently as a deliberate policy

English Channel

Three steamships torpedoed without any warning by U.20 (Walther Schweiger). Lt-Cdr Otto Droescher was on the British list of war criminals for the first two sinkings, but Schweiger had taken over command of U.20 from Droescher in December. The cases did not go to court:

TOKOMARU, 6,084/1893, Shaw, Savill & Albion Co, Southampton, Mr Francis Greene, sailing Dunedin/Wellington for Havre/London with general cargo, steaming toward Havre for pilot, sea smooth. Explosion on port-side at 0900 sent water up over the bridge, stoke-hold flooded, listed heavily and started to sink, went down 7 miles NW of Havre LV, Seine estuary (L - 7 miles WSW of Cape Antifer); crew picked up within an hour by French minesweeper Saint Pierre, landed at Havre (+L/Mn/ge/os/te/un)

IKARIA, 4,335/1900, Leyland Shipping Co, Liverpool, Mr Matthew Robertson, Buenos Aires/Santos for Havre/London/Liverpool with coffee, sugar and general cargo, stopped off Cape La Heve for Havre pilot, slight headway, master on bridge, sea smooth with no wind. Torpedo wake spotted but no time to use helm, hit port-side abreast No.1 hatch, began to sink by the head 25 miles NW of Havre (L - 20 miles NNW of Cape La Heve), still afloat after an hour, master and some crew reboarded, helped by tug in to Havre, berthed alongside Quai d'Escale until noon on 31st, Port Authority concerned and moved ship west of Avan Point towards breakwater, sank there on 2/2/15 with afterpart showing; boats got away, crew originally boarded nearby tug. (+L/Mn/ge/os/te/un)

ORIOLE ", 1,489/1914, General Steam Navigation Co, London, London, 21 crew, Mr William Dale, sailed London 29th for Havre with general cargo, passed SS London Trader off Dungeness afternoon of 30th, went missing, posted by Lloyds 17/3/15. Probably torpedoed by U.20 (un – confirmed), sank off Dungeness (wi - 50.50N, 01E); all crew lost including master, two Oriole lifebuoys washed ashore near Rye on 6 February, bottle with the message "Oriole torpedoed - sinking" was found by Guernsey fisherman on 20 March, writing confirmed as the ship's carpenter's by his widow (+L/Mn/sn/te/un/wi)

Irish Sea

Two British steamships (and Admiralty collier Ben Cruachan) captured by U.21 (Otto Hersing), and a fourth probably attacked by her in Liverpool Bay:

LINDA BLANCHE, 369/1914, Anglesey Shipping Co, Bangor-reg, 11 crew, Manchester for Belfast with general cargo including glazed roofing/floor tiles. Stopped (wi - by U.31) about an hour after the Ben Cruachan sinking, sunk at 1230 by bombs below decks, 18 miles NW½N of Liverpool Bar LV (L/wi - in 53.34N, 03.51W; wi - also 16 miles NW of, in 53.41.18N, 03.43.30W), ship’s papers ordered to be carried across to U-boat; crew shortly picked up by trawler Niblick or Niblet, landed at Fleetwood (+L/Mn/ap/ge/un/wi)

KILCOAN, 456/1905, W J R Harbinson & C L MacKean, Belfast-reg, 11 crew, Mr James Maneely, Garston for Belfast with coal. U.21 closed with machine gun trained, crew ordered to abandon ship and come alongside, master ordered back for ship's papers accompanied by four armed seamen with bomb and two yards of fuse, charge set port-side amidships and lit, after making provision for the safety of the crew, returned and fired shells into the hull to speed her sinking, went down at 1330, 18 miles NW of Liverpool Bar LV (L/wi - in 53.54N, 03.46W; wi - also 53.44.30N, 03.42.24W); crew returned to their own boats, U.21 then headed for SS Gladys, directed them to rescue Kilcoan’s crew, landed at Fleetwood that night (+L/Lr/Mn/ge/sn/un/wi)

Graphic, passenger ship, 1,871(ms – 2,017)/1906 Belfast SS Co, Belfast. Chased by U-boat, 22 miles NW of Liverpool Bar LV, escaped (+Mn/ms)




British Merchant Vessels Lost to Enemy Action in February: 14 merchant ships totalling 36,372grt - 4 of 10,350grt to surface ships, 8 of 21,787grt to submarines, 2 of 4,235grt to mines (H)


Monday 1 February 

English Channel

Asturias, hospital ship, ex-passenger & cargo steamship, 12,002/1908, Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, Belfast, painted and illuminated, in daylight, visibility good. Attacked by U.20 (tr - U.21), 15 miles NNE of Havre LV, torpedo missed. First attack on a hospital ship (+Mn/ge/ms/tr)


Thursday 4 February

U-boat Warfare - Denied a swift victory on land, Germany decided to start unrestricted submarine warfare without warning against merchant shipping from the 18th.


Wednesday 10 February

North Sea

Laertes, 4,541/1904, Ocean SS Co (Alfred Holt), Liverpool, sailing Liverpool via Amsterdam for Java with general cargo. Gun/torpedo attack by U.2, 12 miles NE by E of Schouwen Bank LV, escaped but damaged according to Lloyds. Sunk 1 August 1917 (+L/Mn/ms/sn)


Friday 12 February

North Sea

Torquay, 870/1914, Renwick Wilton & Co, Dartmouth, sailing Torquay for Blyth. Mined off Filey Brigg, possibly in Scarborough field (Kolberg), damaged, towed into Scarborough; one life lost (+L/ms)

South Atlantic

INVERCOE, 3-masted steel barque, 1,421/1892, G Milne, Aberdeen-reg, Mr William King, sailing Portland (Ore) for Queenstown with wheat. Captured by Prinz Eitel Friedrich 890 miles E by S¼S true from Cape Frio, near Rio de Janeiro (L/kp - in 26.31S, 26.15W), sunk by bombs (+L/Lr/Mn/kp)


Saturday 13 February

Dover Straits

Wavelet, 2,992/1905, Needham Bros, Hartlepool, sailing Pensacola for Leith with pitch pine. Mined 11 miles NE by N of N Goodwins, damaged, beached; 12 lives lost. Wrecked 27 August 1916 (+L/ms)


Sunday 14 February

North Sea

Kirkham Abbey, passenger & cargo steamship, 1,166/1908, Hull & Netherlands SS Co (J H N Ringrose), Hull. Chased by U-boat, escaped. Sunk 27 July 1918 (+ms)


Monday 15 February 

North Sea

MEMBLAND, cargo steamship, 3,027/1900, West Hartlepool-reg, G Pyman & Co/Pyman SS, Mr Brochie, Hull for Tyne in light condition, went missing, posted by Lloyds 24/3/15. Possibly 15th - Possibly mined between Spurn Head and Flamborough Head (wi - off Whitby, in 54.30N, 00.30W); 20 lives lost including master (+L/Mn/ms/wi)

English Channel

DULWICH (1), 3,289/1893, Britain SS Co (Watts, Watts), London, Mr J Hunter, sailing Hull for Rouen with coal, boats already swung out in case of emergency, night-time. Torpedoed starboard side by U.16 (Claus Hansen), listed slightly to starboard, began to settle by the stern, sank within c20min, 27 miles NNE of Cape la Hève, near Havre (L/te/un - 6 miles N of Cape Antifer); 2 lives lost, master and 21 men left in one boat, supposedly 9 in the other, boats became separated, master's picked up shortly after at 2000 by French destroyer, the other boat reached Fécamp but with only seven crew. Not known how the two men died as they were seen leaving the forecastle to enter the boats when the master and chief officer made their final round (+L/Mn/ge/ms/te/un)


Wednesday 17 February

North Sea

Colchester, passenger & cargo steamship, 1,209 (ms – 1,160)/1889, Great Eastern Railway, Harwich, Mr Charles Fryatt, sailing Parkeston Quay for Rotterdam, southerly gale, heavy seas with thick rain. Submarine sighted 2 miles ahead, Colchester turned away and went to full speed, chased for 15min and lost sight of the attacker, came back on course. Wrecked 1 March 1918 (+Mn/ms)


Thursday 18 February

U-boat Warfare - First German unrestricted submarine campaign came into effect. All waters around British Isles including the English Channel declared a War Zone where all merchant ships could be destroyed without ensuring the safety of passengers and crew; neutral ships would be at risk from attack. Britain extended the defensive arming of merchant ships to protect themselves against surfaced U-boats leading to later German claims that armed vessels should be treated as warships. US protests lead to U-boats being ordered not to attack ships flying neutral flags, hospital ships (unless obviously engaged in trooping) and Belgian Relief ships. The sinking shortly of the liner Lusitania started to swing American opinion strongly against Germany leading to entry into the war two years later. In 1915, only some 20 percent of ships were sunk without warning (some sources list start date as 28th)

Central Atlantic

MARY ADA SHORT, 3,605/1896, James Westoll, Sunderland-reg, Mr A Dobbing, Buenos Aires/Rosario for UK with maize via St Vincent for orders. Captured by Prinz Eitel Friedrich in the morning, boarding party laid dynamite charges in the engine-room, removed stores, and as the charges were ineffective, fired two shells in to the hull, sank around 1100, 400 miles E by N ¾N true of Pernambuco (L - in 05.49S, 28.36W) (+L/Mn/kp)


Friday 19 February

U-boat Warfare - Norwegian tanker Belridge carrying oil from US to Holland torpedoed without warning and damaged by U.8 in Dover Straits, first neutral ship attacked in the new U-boat campaign


Saturday 20 February

Irish Sea

Two steamships sunk by U.30 (Erich von Rosenberg-Grusczyski):

CAMBANK, 3,112/1899, Merevale Shipping Co, Cardiff-reg, 24 crew, Mr T Roberts, Huelva for Garston/Liverpool with copper, ingots and sulphur ore, picked up pilot. Torpedoed, broke in two, sank after 20min, 10 miles E of Point Lynas, near Amlwch, N Anglesey (L - 4 miles E of; wi - 5 miles E by N of, in 53.26.45N 04.09.30W, also “various positions.... between four and ten miles E of”); three lives lost by explosion, one drowned abandoning ship, crew of Bull Bay lifeboat James Cullen alerted by torpedo explosion, launched and met up with survivors in two boats, towed them in until arrival of armed yacht Oriana which in turn towed these and a third into Amlwch. Metal cargo salvaged in 1950’s (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

DOWNSHIRE (1), 337/1898, East Downshire SS Co, Belfast-reg, 11 crew, Mr W Connor, Dundrum for Manchester with empty cement bags, steaming at 10kts in the evening. U.30 sighted on starboard bow about 2 miles off and gaining, came up to within quarter of a mile and fired a shell, this was ignored and the collier went to full speed, second and third shell followed, escape impossible so engines stopped, bomb placed against her side, sank 8 miles NW½W of Calf of Man island, off Isle of Man (L - in 54.03N, 05.15W) (+L/Mn/ge/un/wi)

Central Atlantic 

WILLERBY, 3,630/1912, R Ropner, Stockton-on-Tees-reg, Mr J Wedgwood, Marseilles for La Plata/Buenos Ayres in water ballast. Ordered to stop by Prinz Eitel Friedrich, ignored signal but overhauled after three-quarters of an hour, sunk by bombs 490 miles NE by N true of Pernambuco (L - in 01.18S, 29.54W) (+L/Mn/kp)


Sunday 21 February

Irish Sea

Penhale, 3,712/1911, Penhale SS Co (R B Chellew), Falmouth. Chased by U-boat (possibly U.30?) 3 miles W of Holyhead, escaped. Sunk 18 May 1917 (+ms)


Monday 22 February

Dover Straits

Victoria (2), passenger steamship 1,689/1907, South Eastern & Chatham Railway Co, London. U-boat attack 6 miles from Boulogne, torpedo missed (+ms)

Central Atlantic

Chasehill, 4,583/1891, Essex Chase SS Co (ms – Kaye Son & Co), Mr R Kidd, sailing Newport News (kp - UK) for Zarate/La Plata with 2,860t coal. Captured by Kronprinz Wilhelm (L - in 06.15S, 28.15W; kp - 06.15S, 26.10W), prize-crew boarded and nearly all coal taken off; crew returned to Chasehill on 9 March with passengers and crew of French mail steamer Guadaloupe, released and arrived Pernambuco morning of 12th, hull considerably damaged during coaling. Foundered 18 January 1916 (+L/Mn/kp/ms)


Tuesday 23 February

Dover Straits

Kalibia, 4,930/1902, Clyde Shipping Co, Glasgow. Chased by U-boat off Dungeness, escaped. Sunk 30 November 1917 (+ms)


Wednesday 24 February

North Sea

DEPTFORD, 1,208/1912, William Cory, London-reg, sailing Granton for Chatham with coal. Mined, possibly Scarborough field (Kolberg), sank 3 miles off Scarborough (L - 3 miles E by N of; wi - Whitby area, off Boulby, Staithes, in 54.17N, 00.18.06W); one life lost (+L/Lr/wi)

English Channel

Three steamships torpedoed by U.8 (Alfred Stoss) and a fourth probably chased off Beachy Head, Sussex:

RIO PARANA, 4,015/1902, Leander SS Co (un – London-American Maritime Trading Co), London-reg, Mr J Williams, Tyne for Portoferrajo with coal. Hit starboard side, ports and doors stove in and saloon flooding, ship abandoned, by then considerably down by head and water level with deck, at first thought mined, sank 4 miles SE of (L - 7 miles ESE of; wi - in 50.42.20N, 00.26.52E) (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

WESTERN COAST (1), 1,165/1913, Powell, Bacon & Hough Lines, Liverpool-reg, Mr J Ratcliffe, London for Plymouth/Liverpool with general cargo. Destroyer gave warning about presence of enemy submarines and 2nd officer was about to report ship in distress when there was an explosion, column of water rose 40-50ft, ship immediately settled, went down in 2 or 3min, 8 miles SE by E½E of (wi - 50.38.24N, 00.23.28E) (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

HARPALION, 5,867/1910, J & C Harrison, London-reg, Mr A Widders, London for Newport News in ballast. (L/te - 26th) - Torpedoed 6½m W of Royal Sovereign LV, off Eastbourne (L - 4 miles SSE of), violent explosion, ship enveloped in steam, water poured over port side, headed for French coast but sank 40 miles off Cape Antifer (wi - 24 miles SSE of Beachy Head, in 50.20N, 00.23E, also 40 miles off Le Havre); explosion killed three firemen (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

Hungarian Prince, 4,765/1901, James Knott, Newcastle. Chased by U-boat, escaped. Sunk 31 July 1917 (+Mn/ge/ms)


Thursday 25 February

Dover Straits

Surrey, passenger & cargo ship, 5,987 (or 5,4550/1899, Federal Steam Navigation Co, London, sailing Liverpool for Dunkirk with coal and meat. (L - 26th) - Mined off Calais (L - Dunkirk), damaged, beached near Deal 26th, refloated 28th, beached Mucking Flat in Thames Estuary on 29th, refloated 20 June. Wrecked 13 November 1916) (+L/ms/tl)

St Andrew, ambulance ship, ex-passenger ship, 2,528/1908, Fishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours Co, London. Chased by U-boat 10 miles NW by W of Boulogne, escaped (tr - avoided torpedo fired by U.8) (+ge/ms/tr)


Saturday 27 February

South East Pacific

CONWAY CASTLE, 3-masted steel barque, 1,694/1893, Ship 'Conway Castle' Co, London-reg, Mr John Williams, Valparaiso for Queenstown/Liverpool with barley. Captured by Dresden, scuttled 560 miles SW by W½W true from Valparaiso (L/Mn - in 37.21S, 81.58W; kp - off Isla Mocha, in 37.21S, 76.15W); crew sent into Talcahuano aboard Peruvian barque Lorton a week later (+L/Lr/Mn/kp)


Sunday 28 February

English Channel

Thordis, cargo steamship, 501/1905, T Thommesen & Son, Arendal, Mr J Bell, sailing Blyth for Plymouth with coal, steaming at 5kts, max speed 10kts, heavy head seas. Periscope seen close by starboard side about 8 or 10 miles SW by S of Beachy Head, U-boat (possibly U.8?) crossed to port and fired torpedo, track seen, helm put over and ship went to full speed. Claimed to have run over the submarine, keel and propeller damaged, posted by Lloyds as damaged, submarine was also apparently damaged but reached port. Skipper awarded commission as Lt RNR and DSC, crew granted £200. Sunk 10 August 1918 (+L/Mn/ms)



MARCH 1915

British Merchant Vessels Lost to Enemy Action in March: 23 merchant ships totalling 71,479grt - 2 of 7,031grt to surface ships, 21 of 64,448grt to submarines, plus 1 fishing vessel of 289grt by mine (H)


Monday 1 March

North Sea

SAPPHIRE, trawler, 289/1912, Kingston Steam Trawling, Hull-reg H675, Skipper G Leighton, Iceland for Hull. Mined (Kolberg?), foundered off Filey, S of Scarborough (wi - in 54.16N, 00.13W); one life lost (+L/hw/wi)


Tuesday 2 March

North Sea

Wrexham, passenger & cargo steamship, 1,414/1902 (ms - 1366/1903), 14kts, Great Central Railway, Grimsby (Mn - Great Eastern Railway), Mr Charles Fryatt, running between Harwich and Rotterdam, heavy northerly swell, weather fine and clear. U-boat appeared at 1235 in 51.50N, 03.00E, circled to the north, Wrexham turned away with deckhands helping the firemen in the boiler-room to reach 16kts, U-boat flew signals ordering her to stop, but Wrexham slowly drew away, chase given up after 40min within a mile of Maas LV. Wrecked Archangel 19 June 1918. Capt Fryatt later captured and shot as franc-tireur in 1916 (+Mn/ms/tl)

BEESWING, cargo steamship, 1,924/1889, Bowser Ormston, Newcastle, sailing Tyne for Dieppe, missing en route after 2nd, presumed war loss – mined or torpedoed (ms/un only)


Thursday 4 March

U.8 detected by indicator nets in their first success, then sunk by destroyers Ghurka and Maori in Strait of Dover

Bristol Channel

Ningchow, cargo steamship, 9,021 (ms – 8,813)/1902, China Mutual Steam Navigation Co (Alfred Holt), Liverpool. Chased by U-boat, escaped (+ms)


Friday 5 March

English Channel

Lydia, passenger ship, 1,133 (or 1,059)/1890, London & South Western Railway, Southampton. U-boat torpedo missed (+ms/tl)


Tuesday 9 March

North Sea

TANGISTAN, 3,738/1906, Strick Line, London-reg, 39 crew, Benisaf for Middlesbrough with 6,000t iron ore, approaching Middlesbrough, too early for tide so reduced speed as night fell. Explosion around midnight, lights went out, hands rushed on deck as she sank rapidly 9 miles N of Flamborough Head (wi - in 54.15.42N, 00.05.08W); 38 crew lost, boats ordered lowered, but she just disappeared taking down everyone with her, some men came back up, but only AB J O'Toole survived. Holding on to a spar, he heard the other voices stop, three ships passed by and he was in the water for 2 hours when his cries were heard by SS Woodville, picked up and landed at West Hartlepool. Not known if mined or torpedoed at the time, was confirmed post-war as torpedoed by U.12, but no longer. now attributes this attack to SS Aberdon following, with Tangistan lost on a mine laid by cruiser Kolberg (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

ABERDON, cargo steamship, 1,005/1911, Adam Bros, Aberdeen, sailed from Seaham Harbour for Aberdeen with coal, went missing with all hands, probably sunk by U.12 (un – confirmed) (ms/un only)

Dover Straits

BLACKWOOD, 1,230/1907, Tyneside Line, North Shields-reg, Mr John Souter, Blyth for Havre with coal. Torpedoed by U.35 (Waldemer Kophamel), sank 18 miles SW by S of Dungeness (L - 18 miles SW by W of; wi - 7¾m S of Hastings, in 50.43.30N, 00.36.30E) (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

Irish Sea

One steamship torpedoed by U.20 (Walther Schweiger), another probably chased by her off Liverpool Bar LV, off Mersey estuary:

PRINCESS VICTORIA, 1,108/1894, M Langlands & Sons, Glasgow-reg, Mr John Cubbin, Aberdeen for Liverpool with general cargo. Sunk by U.20, 16 miles NW by N of (wi - in 53.43.30N, 03.41W) (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

Clan MacRae, cargo steamship, 5,058/1912, Cayzer, Irvine & Co (Clan Line), Glasgow. Escaped (+ms)


Wednesday 10 March

U.12 rammed and sunk by destroyer Ariel off Fife Ness in North Sea


Thursday 11 March

German auxiliary cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich, running out of coal and with machinery wearing out, entered Newport News (Va), interned around 8 April 1915

English Channel

Adenwen, cargo steamship, 3,798/1913, W & C T Jones Steam Sailing Co, Cardiff, Mr W Ladd, sailing Rouen for Barry in ballast. Captured by U.29 (Otto Weddigen), 20 miles NW of Casquets, off Alderney, crew took to boats, ship damaged by bombs but stayed afloat, discovered later in the day by French destroyer Claymore, towed into Cherbourg on 12th, temporarily repaired, arrived Cardiff 1 April. Ship's boats towed by submarine for some time, then transferred to Norwegian SS Bothnia, landed at Brixham that afternoon. Sunk 25 March 1917 (+L/Mn/ms/un)

Irish Sea

Helen, cargo steamship, 322 (also 333)/1904, R Neill & Sons, Belfast. U-boat attack 8 miles NNW of Liverpool Bar LV, torpedo missed. Sunk 1 May 1917) (+ms)

Atlantic off SW England

FLORAZAN, 4,658/1913, Liverpool Shipping Co, Liverpool, Mr E Cawsey, sailing Havre for Liverpool in ballast. Torpedoed by U.20 (Walther Schweiger), 53 miles NE½E of Longships LH, off Lands End (L - 53 miles N of), took immediate list to port, soon on fire amidships and settling slowly by the head, ship abandoned, survivors stood by for 2 or 3 hours, but could not reboard because of the flames, still afloat next day, taken in tow by eight drifters, sank morning of the 13th (L/un - 50 miles SW½S of St Ann’s Head); one fireman believed killed in explosion, survivors rescued from their boats by drifter Wenlock (+L/Mn/te/un)


Friday 12 March

Irish Sea

Atlantic City, cargo steamship, 4,707/1912, Reardon Smith & Sons, Cardiff. Chased by U-boat 6 miles E of South Rock, S of Belfast Lough, escaped (+ms)

Atlantic off SW England

Three British steamships sunk by U.29 (Otto Weddigen) off Scillies, two of them captured first:

ANDALUSIAN, 2,349/1911, Papayanni Line (un – Ellerman Lines), Liverpool-reg, 34 crew, Mr L Malley, Liverpool for Patras with general cargo. U-boat sighted on port bow, attempted to run, overtaken and stopped at 0045, ship’s boats used by Germans to board, sea-cocks opened, sank 25 miles WNW of Bishop Rock (L - 20 miles NW of; te - in 49.08N, 07.00W; un/wi - in 49.50N, 07.05W; un – also in 49.41N, 06.52W); crew towed until transferred to French barque Jacques Coeur (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

INDIAN CITY, 4,645/1915, Instow SS Co (Wm Reardon Smith & Co), Bideford, Cardiff-reg, 37 crew, Mr John Williams, Galveston/Newport News for Havre with cotton and spelter. U.29 surfaced close by, master tried to escape but soon overhauled, ordered to stop and abandon ship, ship’s log book carried across, single torpedo fired, sank 10 miles S of St Mary's (L - torpedoed 10 miles S of Bishop Rock on 12th, sank 25 miles S of Bishop Rock on 13th; wi - reverses Lloyd's locations; un – in 49.30N, 06.15W). U-boat took lifeboats in tow, cast off when two patrol boats came up, tow picked by patrol boat - probably HMT Ulysses, brought into St Mary’s (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)

HEADLANDS, 2,988/1882, Sefton SS Co, Liverpool-reg, 23 crew, Mr Herbert Lugg, Marseilles for Swansea/Bristol in ballast (un – with ore and fruit; wi - from Burriana with 1,800t flints and mineral ores), heading for burning ship about 5 miles off, presumably Indian City. U.29 came up at full speed, Headlands turned away but soon overhauled, shouted at to stop but ignored the order, submarine drew off and fired torpedo, hitting her abaft engine-room 8 miles S of Scillies (L - 10 miles S of Bishop Rock) at 1025, started settling, U-boat chased away by patrol vessels, ship taken in tow but sank (L - 1 mile SE of Bishop Rock; wi - 1 mile S of Scilly, in 49.51.20N, 06.26.15W); crew towed into port by patrol craft (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)


Saturday 13 March

U-boat Warfare - First neutral sinking, possibly by mistake, Swedish steamer Hanna, 1,598grt carrying coal from Tyne to Las Palmas torpedoed without warning and sunk in North Sea off Scarborough (L, not in un)

Irish Sea

HARTDALE, 3,839/1910, Trechmann SS Co, West Hartlepool-reg, sailing Clyde/Glasgow for Alexandria (te/wi - with stone; un – with coal), 31 crew, Mr Thomas Martin. U.27 (Bernd Wegener) appeared off port bow at 0500, shortly ordered her to stop and abandon ship within 10min, master ignored the command and zig-zagged ahead at full speed. Submarine ordered her to stop twice more, fired rockets and small shells until at 0600 a torpedo was fired, hitting the ship port side in No.3 hold, sank 7 miles SE by E of South Rock, S of Belfast Lough (un – in 54.25N, 05.08W; wi - in 54.19N, 05.15W); crew took to the boats without orders, leaving master, chief officer, a steward and a seaman on board who had to jump in the sea, they were picked up by the U-boat and transferred to the Swedish SS Heimdal, which also picked up the other crew members. H/un/wi - two lives lost, but only the seaman, drowned when he went overboard is identified (+L/Mn/te/un/wi)


Sunday 14 March

Light cruiser Dresden discovered at Chilean island of Mas a Fuera, Juan Fernandez group in SE Pacific by armoured cruiser Kent, light cruiser Glasgow & armed merchant cruiser Orama, shelled, then scuttled

North Sea

Quentin, passenger & cargo steamship, 1,274/1892, G Gibson & Co, Leith. Chased by U-boat 5 miles NNW of Maas LV, escaped

English Channel

Two cargo steamships attacked by U-boat(s), torpedoes missed:

Sutton Hall, Belgian Relief ship, 4,460/1905, Ellerman Lines (R Alexander), Liverpool (+ms)

Umtata, 2,655/1898, Bullard King & Co, London (+ms)

Atlantic off W Ireland

Atalanta, 519/1905, J & P Hutchinson, Glasgow, armed, Mr J MacLarnon, sailing Galway for Glasgow. Captured by U.29 (Otto Weddigen), 12 miles WSW of Inishturk Is (L - 6 miles SSW of Achill Head), set on fire and damaged, towed into Cleggan, repaired (+L/Mn/ge/ms/un)


Monday 15 March

Aviation war - start of German aircraft attacks on shipping in North Sea, 10 vessels bombed in March and April near North Hinder and Galloper LV's

North Sea

FINGAL, passenger ship, 1,562/1894, London & Edinburgh Shipping, Leith-reg, sailing London for Leith with general cargo. Torpedoed by U.23 (Hans Schultess), sank 6 miles E by S of Coquet Is, off Amble (wi - in 55.21N, 01.21W); 6 lives lost, including 1 MN stewardess (+L/te/tr/un/wi)

Blonde, 613grt, Mr A Milne, Cowes for Tyne in ballast, 3 miles E of North Foreland. Second mate on bridge noticed an aircraft flying from the east, five bombs dropped but just missed, ship went to full speed, zigzagged and sounded her whistle, armed trawler came up, fired one shot and the plane disappeared (ms – the only possible match is cargo steamship, 610/1863, disposal not listed) (+Mn/ms)

English Channel

Hyndford, cargo steamship, 4,286/1905, Scottish Shipowners’ Co (Robertson Paterson & Co), Glasgow, Mr John Horne, sailing Bahia Blanca for London with oats and wheat, steaming up-Channel at full speed, weather fine, sea smooth. Torpedoed by U.35 (Waldemar Kophamel) 12 miles S of Beachy Head (L/un - 12 miles S of Royal Sovereign LV), damaged, water in forehold, but No.2 dry, aft ballast tanks filled to trim down the ship which proceeded at full speed for The Downs, arrived there on 16th at 2330, towed to Gray's Flats, beached for temporary repairs; one life lost, crew started to abandon ship without waiting for orders, master ordered them to stop but port lifeboat slipped throwing two men into the sea. Engine-room staff went below to stop engines, boat launched to rescue the men, but only one was saved (+L/Mn/ms/un)


Tuesday 16 March

English Channel

Highland Scot, passenger & cargo steamship, 7,604 (ms – 7,343)/1910, W & W Nelson, London. Chased by U-boat, escaped. Wrecked 6 May 1918 (+ms)

Black Sea

Wolverton, cargo steamship, 3,868/1914, Denaby & Cadeby Main Collieries, Hull, sailing Port Said for Novorossisk. Mined off Russian coast, 5-6 miles E by S of Fontana LH, Odessa, damaged, towed in to Odessa same day; one life lost. Voyage details must be in doubt as since 29 October 1914, the Dardanelles through to the Black Sea had been closed to Allied shipping; she was probably trapped in the Black Sea (+L/ms)


Wednesday 17 March

North Sea

LEEUWARDEN, 990/1903, General Steam Navigation Co, London, sailing London for Harlingen in ballast. Captured by U.28 (Georg-Günther Freiherr von Forstner), sunk by gunfire 4 miles W by N½N of Maas Light, near Hook of Holland (L - 4 miles SE of) (+L/te/un)


Thursday 18 March

Naval Aviation - Only days after construction had been approved by the Admiralty on 28 February, the maiden flight of small non-rigid Sea Scout-class SS.1 airship took place at RNAS Station, Kingsnorth, Kent; sometimes referred to as SS Submarine Scout. Smaller and cheaper than the planned rigid airships, they joined RNAS aircraft on maritime patrols off the British coasts. By the end of the war more than 200 British non-rigid airships of different types had been built, of which more than 100 were operational, plus 200 naval balloons,

U.29 rammed and sunk by battleship Dreadnought in North Sea

North Sea

Colchester, passenger & cargo steamship, 1,209 (ms – 1,160)/1889, Great Eastern Railway Co, Harwich. Chased by U-boat off Hook of Holland, escaped. Wrecked 1 or 2 March 1918 (+ms/tl)

English Channel

Two, possibly three steamships attacked by U.34 (Claus Rücker) off Sussex:

GLENARTNEY (1), 5,201/1911, Caledonia SS Co, Glasgow-reg, Mr J Craig, sailing Bangkok for London/Liverpool with rice and rice meal. Torpedoed by U.34, sank 4 miles S of Royal Sovereign LV, off Eastbourne (un – in 50.36N, 00.25E; wi - in 50.38.48N, 00.25.32E); one crew lost (+L/te/un/wi)

Blue Jacket, 3,515/1904, G Hallett, Cardiff (un – J L Thompson & Sons, Sunderland), sailing La Plata for London with maize. Torpedoed by U.34, 15 miles E of Owers LV, off Selsey Bill, damaged, put into Southampton Water (+L/ms/un)

Strathfillan, cargo ship, Belgian Relief ship, 4,353/1906, Strathfillan SS Co (Burrell & Son), Glasgow. Chased by U-boat off Beachy Head, escaped (+ms)


Friday 19 March

English Channel

San Dunstano, tanker, 6,220/1912, Eagle Oil Transportation Co, London. Chased by U-boat, escaped (+ms)


Saturday 20 March

English Channel

Two cargo steamships chased by U-boat(s) and escaped:

John Duncan (ms – J Duncan), 1,832/1914, J T Duncan & Co, Cardiff. Near Royal Sovereign LV (+ms)

Dorset Coast, 672/1908, F H Powell & Co, Liverpool. Sunk 26 February 1916 (+ms)


Sunday 21 March

North Sea

Ennismore, 1,499/1880, William Johnston & Co, Liverpool. U-boat attack 10 miles NE by N of Coquet Is, off Northumberland, torpedo missed. Listed as owned by James Cormack & Co, Leith when sunk 29 December 1917 (+ms/tl)

Three cargo steamships attacked by aircraft, all bombs missed:

Elfland, Belgian Relief ship, 4,190 (ms – 4,211)/1914, Fred Drughorn Ltd, London. Off North Hinder LV (+Mn/ms)

Pandion, 1,279/1904, Cork Steam Shipping Co, Cork. Between North Hinder & Galloper. Lost in collision 15 March 1917 (+Mn/ms)

Lestris, 1,384/1905, Cork Steam Shipping Co, Cork. Some 14 miles E of Galloper, off Harwich (+Mn/ms)

Dover Straits

Tycho, cargo steamship, 3,216/1904, T Wilson Sons & Co, Hull. U-boat attack in The Downs, torpedo missed. Sunk 20 May 1917 (+ms)

English Channel

CAIRNTORR, cargo steamship, 3,588/1904, Cairn Line of Steamship (Cairns Noble & Co), Newcastle-reg, Mr R Purvis, Tyne for Genoa with coal. Torpedoed by U.34 (Claus Rücker), sank 7 miles S of Beachy Head (L - 3 miles S of; un – 50.40N, 00.15E; wi - in 50.37N, 00.14.30E). Note: “Wreck Index” suggests the HMSO & Lloyd’s positions are the torpedoed and loss locations respectively, ms – torpedoed 7 miles S of Beach Head (+L/ms/te/un/wi)


Monday 22 March

North Sea

Osceola, tanker, 393/1897, Anglo-American Oil (ms – Oxceola SS Co (Bliss), London). Aircraft attack, bombs missed (+Mn/ms)

English Channel

CONCORD, 2,861/1902, Thomas Smailes & Sons SS Co, Whitby-reg, Mr H Layment, sailing Rosario for Leith with bulk grain, linseed cake and maize. Torpedoed by U.34 (Claus Rücker), sank 9 miles SE by E½E of Royal Sovereign LV, off Eastbourne (L - S 20 deg E 8 miles from; wi - in 50.40N, 00.39.30E) (+L/te/un/wi)


Tuesday 23 March

North Sea

Teal (1), cargo steamship, 764 (also 716 and 830grt)/1876, General Steam Navigation Co, London. Aircraft attack, bombs and darts missed. Sunk 29 April 1916) (+Mn/ms/tl)


Thursday 25 March

U-boat Warfare - First deliberate neutral sinking, Dutch SS Medea, 1,235grt, sailing Valencia for London with oranges, stopped and searched, then sunk by U.28 in English Channel off Beachy Head. Dutch government made strong protests

North Sea

Groningen, passenger & cargo steamship, 988/1902, General Steam Navigation Co, London. Chased by U-boat, escaped. Sunk 23 September 1915 (+ms)

English Channel

Two cargo steamships attacked by U.37 (Erich Wilcke):

Delmira, 3,459/1905, Strathclyde Shipping Co (W Lowden) (un – Kyle Transport Co (A Bicket)), Liverpool, 32 crew, Mr William Lancefield, sailing Boulogne for Port Talbot, steaming at 9kts. U.37 appeared astern 2 miles off, made signals to stop but ignored, firing started and as the U-boat closed, Delmira stopped 23 miles NNE of Cape Antifer, N of Le Havre (L - 25 miles N of), damaged by bombs, drifted ashore at St Vaast la Hogue on 26th, later refloated, arrived Cherbourg on 1 April; U.37 towed the three ship's boats for over an hour towards the English coast, sighted SS Lizzie (following), cut the tows and dived to attack (+L/Mn/ms/un)

Lizzie, 802/1888, Lewis & Co, Liverpool, Mr Jonathan Evans. As the submerged U.37 approached, Lizzie went to full speed and attempted ram but missed, stopped to pick up Delmira's men from their boats, landed them at Portsmouth (+Mn/ms)

off SW Scotland

Tewfikieh, passenger & cargo steamship, 2,490(ms – 2,495grt)/1893, Khedivial Mail Steam Shipping Co, London. Chased by U-boat off Ailsa Craig island, escaped. Sunk 9 June 1918 (+ms)

Central Atlantic

TAMAR, 3,207/1902, Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, Middlesbrough-reg, Mr F Hannan, sailing Santos for Havre with coffee, to eastward of normal track. (Mn/kp - 24th) - Overhauled by raider Kronprinz Wilhelm and stopped, sunk by gunfire 500 miles ENE true from Pernambuco, Brazil (L - 02.06S, 28.50W); crew and passengers had to sign a declaration of neutrality (+L/Mn/kp)


Saturday 27 March

North Sea

Ousel, cargo steamship, 1,284/1901, Cork Steam Shipping Co, Cork. Aircraft attack between North Hinder and Galloper, bombs missed. Lost in collision 14 September 1917 (+Mn/ms)

St George's Channel & Atlantic off SW England

Three steamships sunk by U.28 (Georg-Günther Freiherr von Forstner), two of them captured first:

AGUILA, passenger ship, 2,114/1909, Aguila SS Co (Yeoward Bros), Liverpool-reg, 43 crew, Mr Bannerman, Liverpool for Lisbon/Las Palmas with general cargo and 3 passengers. Sunk by torpedo 47 miles SW of The Smalls, E of Milford Haven (L/wi - 20 miles SW of, in 51.30N, 06.05W); 8 lives lost, including 1 passenger and 1 MN stewardess (+L/ge/te/tr/un/wi)

SOUTH POINT (1), 3,837/1912, Norfolk and North American SS Co (Furness, Withy & Co), West Hartlepool-reg, Mr G Newman, Fowey/Cardiff for Philadelphia with china clay in bulk and casks. Sunk by torpedo 60 miles W of Lundy Is, off Devon (+L/ge/te/un/wi)

VOSGES, 1,295/1911, Moss SS Co, Liverpool-reg, Mr John Green, Bordeaux for Liverpool with general cargo, two 1st-class and 5 consular passengers. Chased and sunk by gunfire 38 miles W by N of Trevose Head, Cornwall (L/te/wi - attacked in 50.27N, 6W, sank in 50.42N, 05.35W); chief engineer killed by shell (+L/Mn/ge/sn/te/un/wi) 

Central Atlantic

COLEBY, 3,824/1907, R Ropner, Stockton-on-Tees-reg, Mr William Crighton, Rosario/Buenos Aires for St Vincent (CV) with 5,000t wheat. Captured by raider Kronprinz Wilhelm, sunk by gunfire and scuttling charges 460 miles NE½N true from Pernambuco (L - in 01.58S, 30W; kp - 460 miles NE by E of) (+L/Lr/Mn/kp)


Sunday 28 March

North Sea

Brussels, passenger ship, 1,380/1902, Great Eastern Railway Co, Harwich, Mr Charles Fryatt. Attacked by U.33, 8 miles W of Maas LV, turned towards the U-boat and forced it to break off the attack. Captured 23 June 1916, master shot as franc-tireur (+ge/ms)

St George's Channel

FALABA, passenger ship, 4,806/1906, Elder Line (Elder, Dempster & Co), Liverpool-reg, c99 crew, Mr J Davis, Liverpool for Sierra Leone/West Africa with c147 passengers including 7 women and one American, cargo unknown but included 13t of ammunition. U.28 (Georg-Günther Freiherr von Forstner), reportedly flying the White Ensign, German ensign hoisted as it approached, Falaba tried to run but unable to do so, hove to and started to abandon ship, with only five boats swung out, torpedo hit amidships, sank within 10min, 38 miles W of The Smalls, E of Pembrokeshire (L/wd - 36 miles SW by W of); 104 lives lost including master, 2 MN stewardness' and the American citizen; survivors picked up by drifters Eileen Emma and Wenlock. US Government strongly protested (+L/Mn/ge/kt/nh/te/tr/un/wd)

Dunedin, cargo steamship, 4,796/1909, Henderson McIntosh, Leith. Chased by U-boat, escaped (+ms)

Atlantic off SW England

City of Cambridge, 3,844 (tl - 3,788)/1882, Ellerman's City Line (was G Smith/City Line), Glasgow, Mr Alfred Fry, sailing Alexandria for Liverpool with general cargo, preparations had been made for a possible attack. Submarine sighted close by around 1830 some 25 miles NW by N of Bishop Rock, Scillies, City of Cambridge turned away, went to full speed and chased for 1½hr. The U-boat kept closing and firing, but the swell probably spoiled her aim, City of Cambridge meanwhile worked up from normal maximum of 10kts to a little over 13kts, heading into wind and sea and slowly drawing ahead. By now it was a bright moonlight night, the U-boat gave one last parting shot before being lost to sight. Sunk 3 July 1917 (+Mn/ms/tl)


Monday 29 March

Atlantic off SW England

Two ships attacked by U.28 (Georg-Günther Freiherr von Forstner) off the Scillies:

FLAMINIAN (1), 3,500/1914, Papayanni Line (un – Ellerman Lines), Liverpool-reg, Mr David Cruikshank, Clyde for Port Natal with general cargo. Captured, sunk by gunfire 50 miles SW by W of (L/te - in 49.08N, 7W; un/wi - 49.50N 07W) (+L/Mn/ge/te/un/wi)

Theseus, passenger & cargo steamship, 6,724/1908, Ocean SS Co (Alfred Holt), Liverpool, sailing Liverpool for Java with general cargo. Gun attack, 40 miles SW of (L/un - 40 miles W of), damaged, escaped (+L/ms/un)


Tuesday 30 March

North Sea

Staffa, cargo steamship, 1,008/1902, Leith, Hull & Hamburg Steam Packet Co (J Currie), Leith. Aircraft attack off North Galloper Buoy, bombs missed (+Mn/ms)

Atlantic off SW England

CROWN OF CASTILE, 4,505/1905, Crown SS Co (Prentice, Service & Henderson), Glasgow-reg, 43 crew, Mr T Fyfe, St John (NB) for Havre with cattle fodder - oats and hay for BEF animals in France. Sighted by U.28 (Georg-Günther Freiherr von Forstner) around 0818, tried to escape but soon overtaken, single shell hit at 0900, crew abandoned ship at 0920. Seven more rounds were fired into the hull but she refused to sink, boarded and two bombs placed, finished off at 1257, 31 miles SW of Bishop Rock, Scillies (L - 34 miles SSW of; un/wi - in 49.25N, 06.50W); crew picked up by French SS Magellan, landed at Barry next day (+L/ge/te/un/wi)


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