Sinking of H.M.S. Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue

 

The Action of 22 September 1914 was a naval engagement that took place during the First World War, in which three obsolete British Royal Navy cruisers, manned mainly by reservists and sometimes referred to as the "livebait squadron", were sunk by one German submarine while on patrol. Approximately 1,450 sailors were killed, and there was a public outcry at the losses. The incident eroded confidence in the British government and damaged the reputation of the Royal Navy at a time when many countries were still considering which side in the war they might support.

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For further details see:
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www.worldwar1.co.uk
www.naval-history.net
 
 
On the 16th October 1914 the Bootle Times published an extract from a letter sent to a family friend by a local man who was serving on a naval base in the south of England.
A fishing smack put in here with 30 or 40 survivors from the “Aboukir” and the “Hogue,” which she had picked up close to the scene of disaster shortly after the three cruisers had gone down. Poor beggars” They seemed dazed, and had hardly a rag on their backs. We took them to the Naval Base to our mess, gave them a jolly good square meal, and then rigged them out in such clothes as we could spare. Luckily, I had a good supply of tobacco and cigarettes sent from home which I served out as far as they would go, together with a bit of spare gear I had in my bag. Boots were the difficulty (they came ashore barefoot with not a boot between them), but the Authorities authorised our people to buy them – sandshoes! At 1s. 11½d. per pair too. It wouldn’t have increased the Navy estimates very much to have provided them with decent footwear, after having lost all their possessions, and very nearly their lives in the service of their country.
There were several wounded in this crowd we got, one of them gladly. He had his legs fearfully hurt, in addition to other wounds. One of his legs is simply blown to a pulp, nearly all the flesh having been carried away and the bones fractured. He had been in the water over half-an-hour before being rescued, and had been given a lump of wood to cling to by a shipmate. Though obviously in great pain when he was brought ashore, he was quite cheerful, and asked for a cigarette when they put him on the small ambulance to take him to a local hospital. He was only an ordinary A.B., a “common sailor” as they call us down here, but he was English to the backbone, and bore the agony unflinchingly. I shall always remember Able Seaman Fowler as one of the bravest men I have seen.
I had a long yarn with one of the crew of the “Aboukir.” He told me that he had just gone off duty and turned into his hammock for an hour or two when he heard the crash of the explosion, and the ship seemed to heave itself up. She immediately listed to starboard. The ship’s company (what was left of them) fell in on the quarter-deck without confusion, according to orders, and waited for the end. Meanwhile the “Hogue” and “Cressy” rapidly closed in and stood by to take off the survivors and wounded, the prevailing impression being that the “Aboukir” had struck a mine. Then, without a moment’s warning, the periscopes of several submarines were seen less than 50 yards away! The two remaining ships stood to their guns, but before a shot was fired three terrific explosions occurred under the “Cressy” and two under the “Hogue.” This latter ship, badly hit, heeled over and sank in four minutes, leaving the survivors of the explosion struggling in the water. Then, to add insult to injury, up came a German submarine to survey the damage (near the man who was telling me the yarn) and then bang went the guns of the sinking “Cressy.” That submarine went down like a stone at the same time as the “Cressy” turned over and flung her men into the water. Regarding what happened between the time of the three ships going down and the rescuing of the survivors my chum refused to say – he said it was too awful to say anything about; so I didn’t press him.
The recipient of the above letter wrote to the injured sailor Fowler, who replied:-
I received your kind and most welcome letter quite safe. I did not expect to be alive now, as I got my legs burnt when the “Aboukir” was blown up, and I swam a mile to the “Hogue” and just as I got on board she was blown up too, so I had to leave her. So I did not think that I should come up again, but the Lord was on my side, and I am pleased to say I am getting along quite well now, and hope to be out again at sea, as I don’t think there is what you call one man among the Germans. I thank you for the smokes, so will close with good wishes.  
Local crewmen lost: H.M.S Aboukir
OBIT RANK FORENAME SURNAME BURIED or COMMEMORATED
view Stoker 1st Class PETER CRUISE PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman JOHN ROBERT DAVIES CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker JAMES FLYNN PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class THOMAS HENRY GOODHEW  CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Leading Seaman HENRY JOHN HUGHES CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman JOHN JOHNSON CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker JOHN EDWARD LEMON PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Master at Arms RICHARD METCALFE CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class WALTER NICOL PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker EDWARD O'MALLEY PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker JAMES PATRICK CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
Local crewmen lost: H.M.S Cressy
OBIT RANK FORENAME SURNAME BURIED or COMMEMORATED
view Leading Stoker JAMES BADENOCH CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker JOSIAH BALDWIN PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class EDWARD BIRD CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Assistant Paymaster ARTHUR LESLIE BRADDOCK CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Private WILLIAM CLARKE CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker PETER COSTELLO PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker JAMES COYLE PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class GEORGE DAVIES CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman EDWARD DWERRYHOUSE alias REES CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman JOHN FAIRCLOUGH CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker THOMAS GERMAN PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class ARTHUR JAMES HERION CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Ship's Steward Assistant WILLIAM COURTENAY HORE CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class WILLIAM LAWTON CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker MICHAEL McEVOY PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker MICHAEL McGUINNESS PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker JOHN MILEY PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class JOHN BARROW MORAN CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class RICHARD OAKES CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman ARTHUR PERKINS CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Leading Stoker JAMES QUINN CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class ROBERT QUIRK CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class WILLIAM JOSEPH REDMOND CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman PETER ISAAC THOMAS TUCK CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Engine Room Artificer 1st Class JAMES TURNER CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman ALLAN WILSON CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class EDWARD YATES CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
Local crewmen lost: H.M.S Hogue
OBIT RANK FORENAME SURNAME BURIED or COMMEMORATED
view Stoker 1st Class SAMUEL JOHN CLARE CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman WILLIAM FINNIGAN CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman WILLIAM MUSGROVE CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Assistant Paymaster LEONARD WALLER PINHORN CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class PERCIVAL HUGH ROWLANDS CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Lieutenant ERNEST PERCY JAMES TINNE CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL