H.M.S. Alcantara

 

H.M.S. Alcantara was built at Belfast by Harland & Wolff as an ocean-going passenger liner for the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. Ltd.
 
She made her maiden voyage in June 1914 but on the outbreak of war she was soon requisitioned and fitted out with 6-inch guns, anti-aircraft guns, and depth charges in order to serve as an armed Armed Merchant Cruiser.
 
She served with the 10th Cruiser Squadron on the Northern Patrol in the seas between Scotland and Norway.
 
Her war service commenced on the 10th March 1915; her log books for the period april 1915 to January 1916 can be seen at naval-history.net. Her log books for February 1916 were presumably lost when she sank on the 29th February 1916 after engaging the German cruiser SMS Greif.
 
Seventy-four British sailors were lost as a result of the incident as were 187 German crewman aboard the Greif.
 
The official account of the incident 'History Of The Great War - Naval Operations', Volume 3, Spring 1915 to June 1916 by Sir Julian S Corbett can be read at naval-history.net
 
 

British auxiliary cruiser HMS Alcantara fighting the German auxiliary cruiser SMS Greif  [wikipedia]

 Liverpool Liners In Action: How The Merchant Seaman Of Merseyside Fought The Men Of The German Navy
About nine o'clock on that morning, whilst the A.M.C. Andes, well known in Liverpool as one of the fine vessels of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's fleet, was on patrol, Captain Young, R.N., who was in command, sighted a smart-looking vessel of about 5,000 tons flying the Norwegian flag, and with those colours ostentatiously painted on her sides. He steamed in her direction, but the sight of the White Ensign did not seem to suit the skipper of the oncoming vessel, and he turned towards the Norwegian coast. Andes had communicated her suspicions to a sister ship in the service, the Alcantara, who came up with the stranger whilst Andes was nearly four miles away. The stranger stopped in obedience to the Alcantara's signal, who immediately prepared to lower a boat for the examination. Whilst the boat hung between ship and sea, Andes' suspicions were absolutely verified, for the apparently peaceful Norwegian hauled down her false colours and ran up the German Naval Ensign. She was the Grief, a heavily-armed vessel with the most modern guns and two torpedo tubes. At the same moment she hauled down the Norwegian flag she dropped her bulwarks and fired a broadside into the Alcantara, who lay at less than a thousand yards' range. A torpedo was also despatched on its mission of destruction, and at such short distance, with a stationary target, it is no compliment to the Grief to say that both shells and torpedo took deadly effect on the Alcantara. Her boat, with its crew, were literally blown away, whilst many others were killed or wounded. After the first shock of surprise had passed the Alcantara returned the fire, her gallant gun crews working with the fiercest energy to avenge their fallen comrades.
But almost before the Alcantara could fire a shot the watchful Andes coming up on her course towards the Grief has noted events. Captain Young had kept his guns trained on the Grief, and as soon as he saw her fire his guns began to speak from a range of over three miles. From the result it is clear that paint work had not been regarded as more important than gunnery by Captain Young. The first salvo found a home in the engine-room of the Grief, killing most of the engine-room staff and disabling her completely. But she fought furiously to the bitter end. With one broadside she fired continuously at the Alcantara, who kept up her fire until the effect of the torpedo caused her to heel over, thus putting her guns out of action. With the other broadside the Grief assailed the Andes, but so well was the latter handled, and with such excellent marksmanship were her guns fired, that whilst she herself was never hit she gradually reduced the Grief to impotence. Andes had swung into action with her starboard guns, and held on a short course for about five minutes, whilst these did their share of damage. Thus she swung round to use her port guns. Four short runs of this length with every gun crew on their mettle, sufficed to cause the captain of the Grief to order his men to abandon her. One gun alone remained in action, and her crew stuck to her until the Andes knocked them out. Then the Andes, closing on the wreck, began the task of sinking it, whilst she proceeded to pick up the survivors both of the Alcantara and the Grief. In both these tasks she was aided by the light cruiser Comus, which had arrived just too late to take part in the actual fighting. Whilst the Andes had not a single casualty, the Alcantara had not only been sunk, but over 60 of her crew had been killed. There were about two hundred survivors of the Grief, and about half of these were landed at Birkenhead a few days later, when the Andes returned to her base. The sinking of the Grief by the Andes and Alcantara is an achievement which will redound to the credit of all who shared in the creation of Liverpool's squadron of armed merchant cruisers, and especially to the glory of the officers and crews of the Andes and the Alcantara. It is pleasant to be able to record that Captain Young, who was awarded the D.S.O. for his services in the action against the Grief, has for some [time] past been closely associated with Liverpool's naval affairs as chief of staff under Admiral Stileman.
 
The report submitted to the Admiralty by her Captain, T.E. Wardle, on the 1st March 1916 relates her final hours and concludes 

I have the honour to report that the officers and men of H. M. Ship fought with great gallantry, and that no one left their stations until ordered to, and I personally witnessed cases of men assisting wounded at great risk. [Ahoy - Mac's Web Log]

Local Crewmen lost
OBIT RANK FORENAME SURNAME DATE BURIED or COMMEMORATED
view Able Seaman HENRY BATES 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman THOMAS DICKINSON 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman ARCHIBALD HARRIS 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Trimmer JAMES HEWITT 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman THOMAS KIRWAN 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Trimmer RICHARD WILLIAM LONGMAID 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Steward JOHN LYNSKEY 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman WILLIAM ROUTLEDGE 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Third Cook ROBERT EDWARD WILLIAMS 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
Other Crewmen lost
OBIT RANK FORENAME SURNAME DATE BURIED or COMMEMORATED
view Private GEORGE FREDERICK ANGEL 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Seaman DUNCAN BAIN 29/02/1916 NORTH YELL OLD CHURCHYARD
view Fireman GODFREY ERNEST BAKER 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Wireless Telegraph Operator JAMES BECKETT 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Chief Petty Officer EDWIN BELCHER 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Armourer's Crew ERNEST JOHN WILLIAM BETTS 29/02/1916 LYNESS ROYAL NAVAL CEMETERY
view Petty Officer 1st Class ALBERT FREDERICK BLOWERS 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Greaser THOMAS JAMES BONE 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Carpenter's Mate JOSEPH BROUGHTON 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Trimmer ALBERT BROWN 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Seaman CHARLES CAIN 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Gunner THOMAS DANIEL CASEY 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman ALBERT CORNWELL 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Seaman WILLIAM HENRY DAWE 29/02/1916 BEAUMONT-HAMEL (NEWFOUNDLAND) MEMORIAL
view Leading Seaman ALEXANDER HERMANN DUNDAS 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Storekeeper SAMUEL HERBERT EDMONDS 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Trimmer BERTIE EYERS 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Baker CHARLES ROBERT FIELDER 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman SIDNEY JOHN FOAD 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman FREDERICK WILLIAM GEE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Private ALFRED GLUE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Electrician WALTER CLIFFORD GREEN 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Greaser FRANK HALLETT 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Assistant Baker ALBERT CHARLES HARPER 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman ALBERT HOOPER 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Private LEONARD HORNE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman CHARLES HORNER 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman WALTER HUTLEY 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Surgeon Probationer JAMES JOHNSTON 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Serjeant JAMES KEEFE 04/03/1916 DOVER (ST. JAMES'S) CEMETERY
view Seaman ALEXANDER LAING 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Private GEORGE WILLIAM LAMB 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Engineer Sub-Lieutenant EDWARD JAMES LE PAGE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Trimmer ARTHUR HARRY LIGHT 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Boy 1st Class ALBERT JAMES LLOYD 29/02/1916 CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman ALBERT LOADER 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Greaser THOMAS LUNNON 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman GEORGE MIELL 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Petty Officer 1st Class EDWARD MILLER 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman GEORGE HERBERT MILLS 29/02/1916 CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Seaman NATHAN MUGFORD 29/02/1916 BEAUMONT-HAMEL (NEWFOUNDLAND) MEMORIAL
view Seaman PERCY JOHN MURRELL 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class TED NEALE 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman DAVID NOBLE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Steward FRANCIS PAGELLA 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Stoker 1st Class JOHN PEARSE 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Engineer Sub-Lieutenant CHARLES HARRY POOK 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Boy 1st Class GORDON PORTER 29/02/1916 CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman WILLIAM EVERARD PRINCE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Steward JOHN READ 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Steward ALFRED VALENTINE COLE RILEY 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Boy 1st Class HAROLD FERNLEY ROBERTS 29/02/1916 CHATHAM NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman JOHN THOMAS SANDFORD 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Sub-Lieutenant LEONARD STANLEY 02/03/1916 LYNESS ROYAL NAVAL CEMETERY
view Private JACK ERNEST STEVENSON 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman WILLIAM CHARLES STYLE 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Seaman JOSEPH SUTHERLAND 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Fireman FREDERICK TANNER 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Chief Steward GEORGE FAULKNER LEE TEMPLE 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Pantry Steward WILLIAM RICHARD THORNHILL 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Private JAMES WILLIAM UNWIN 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Private JAMES WADDINGHAM 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Greaser HENRY WILTON 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Able Seaman WILLIAM DAVID HENRY WINDER 29/02/1916 PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL
view Trimmer ALFRED WYLES 29/02/1916 PLYMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL